Covering letters


I'm applying for PhDs just now and have my CV honed to a perfect shape - but have no idea how to start a covering letter!

I will graduate with an undergraduate masters degree in parasitology next july (hopefully) and am applying for PhDs in the field of parasite biochem etc - but how do i start a letter?! all the mock letters my course provides seem to be for job applications, and it's not the same!

can anyone help me please?


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Below is a simple example, which when combined with a good CV should be more than enough to get you an interview. Other than the quick summary suggested in the first paragraph you don't need to repeat the information on your CV. By all means say you enjoyed your final year project, but don't describe every experiment. Don't imply that you want to do it because you can't think of what else to do (it may be one of the most common reasons for doing a PhD, but no one wants to hear it) or that you'd really like to stay in/move to that particular city.

Dear Dr XXXX

I am writing to apply for your PhD studentship (XXXXXX), which I saw advertised on I am currently a final year undergraduate at XXXXXX university and expect to graduate in July with a DEGREE AND GRADE in parasitology.

I would like to pursue a career in research because ..............……

Your PhD project is of interest to me because ..............

I look forward to hearing from you soon

Yours sincerely



Last weeks New Scientist has an excellent careers pull-out, which contains some pretty useful information about covering letters etc. You may be able to get it online by now, or if not its probably still around in the shops.