Visiting research students

The School of Geographical Sciences welcomes research students from other universities who wish to spend time studying with us.

Visiting students:

  • do not study for, and cannot be awarded, credit.
  • do not undertake formal assessment.
  • are not administered by the International Office, i.e. are not on a recognised exchange or study abroad arrangement.
  • are normally registered as a student at another higher education institution.
  • normally visit Bristol to carry out research (at postgraduate level) or to undertake an undergraduate project (not for credit).
  • are not included in data returns to external agencies (e.g. HESA and HEFCE).

In addition, visiting research students should note that:

  • You may be required to pay a bench fee. The definitive fee will be confirmed in your offer letter.
  • You are responsible for all costs associated with your visit, including accommodation, subsistence, travel and leisure costs. We do not currently offer any bursaries or other financial support for visiting research students.
  • We recommend that visiting research students bring a laptop computer with them.
  • You will be expected to engage with the research community in the School of Geographical Sciences within the relevant research theme.

Admission process and entry requirements

If you wish to apply to come to the School of Geographical Sciences as a visiting student, you must first secure the agreement of a member of academic staff to act as your supervisor for the duration of your visit. Please see our research areas and groups to find members of staff whose research area matches your interests. You should contact them directly, using the contact details given.

You should apply online via the online application portal. New applicants will need to create a new account and should refer to guidance at How to apply  Currently, there may only be two start date options for you to choose.  If you intend to start your visit prior to September 2024 select the January 2024 start date option. If you intend to visit from or after September 2024 please select this start date option. You should indicate your proposed visit start date and end date in your application and in the letter of support from your proposed supervisor.

Please ensure you have uploaded the following documents to your application:

  • Academic transcripts from first and subsequent degrees. We require colour scans of original documents and certified translations of documents issued in any language other than English;
  • Degree certificate from first and subsequent degrees. We require colour scans of original documents and certified translations of documents issued in any language other than English.
  • In the case of students whose first language is not English, evidence of English Language proficiency.
  • An official letter from your current institution confirming the research degree programme that you are registered on along with your dates of study - the letter must include your programme start date and your expected end date.
  • Letter from your proposed School/supervisor outlining the proposed research, and your proposed visit dates. 

From 2023/24, visiting research students will also incur a fee of £1,000 pa. Note we need 4 to 6 weeks to process a complete application. Applicants are therefore advised to complete their application form as early as possible to ensure enough time to process the application, secure the relevant supervisory approvals and make the necessary pre-arrival arrangements (including ATAS and visa applications if applicable).

Once your application has been processed you will be issued a formal offer of study letter which will confirm your supervisor(s), visiting student duration and fees liable. You will be asked to formally respond to this offer of study letter.

Visa requirements

All visiting students from outside the UK require a visa, regardless of length of study. Some students will need to apply for this visa in advance, some can travel through eGates on arrival. For visits of six months or less, read the Standard Visitor visa guidance. For longer visits, you will probably need a Student visa, and you must meet the eligibility requirements for this.

If you are already in the UK on a Student visa (and you are visiting from another UK institution) you need to be studying at a partner institution or agree to the visit as an agreed temporary location. You should contact Student Visas for advice.  Also note that most visa types will require ATASregardless of length of study, if the course needs ATAS. Some nationalities are exempt from the ATAS requirement - you can check if you need an ATAS certificate at Find out if you need an ATAS certificate - GOV.UK (

Visiting for more than six months

Note that applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate that they meet the English Language requirements for the programme. Refer to the University of Bristol English Language entry requirements for further guidance. Profile D is required for postgraduate research programmes in the School of Geographical Sciences in Human Geography. Visiting students for Physical Geogrpahy research programmes must meet Profile E.

Be aware we can only give you a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) once you have met your academic and language conditions.

Students requiring a CAS for visa purposes will be asked to provide official confirmation (student status letter) from their home institution of the degree they are currently registered for, their start date and their expected end date. A CAS cannot be issued to an international visiting research student who is not returning to their home institution to complete their research degree (PhD). Students who fall into this category should contact the relevant School directly as they may qualify as a Visiting Academic or Associate.

Visiting for less than six months

If you are visiting for less than six months you do not currently need to provide evidence of English Language proficiency. Your supervisor must have interviewed the student and confirmed that the level of English is acceptable for the programme. In this case, you will be able to apply for a Standard Visitor visa. Further visa related guidance for visiting students can be found at Student Visas Visiting Students

Contact the University's Student Visas office directly for advice about visas.


If you have any questions about the application process for visiting research students, please contact the Faculty Office at

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