Hi - When I contacted my uni about PhDs I already had a rough proposal prepared. I then was given some good advice as to it's content and was then passed on to a supervisor. What I found though was that they were concerned as to whether (at the 6 month review) I would be able to continue even to MPhil not because my research topic wasn't good, simply because nothing is certain (you never know how your research is going to go!). I therefore chose to do an MRes which I have been assured can be upgraded to the MPhil and then at least I won't have wasted time, effort and money in that 6 month period and I can spend the year sorting out funding for the rest of the PhD - or I could apply for one already set up. If you definately don't want to do a masters I would apply for PhDs already available as there is less uncertainty about their fate - otherwise see where your uni stands as far as upgrading an MRes to a MPhil to then continue on.
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