So I am wanting to start applying for PhDs for entry in Sept/Oct 2012, I graduated from Uni last year so I don't really have any guidance on this! I do have a good idea of what I want to apply to do, and have a list of places I would like to apply (saving this for another thread haha :) ). Consequently I have a couple of questions and I'd be grateful if anyone could shed some light on them. Should mention that I am applying for places with funding (most probably ESPRC/STEM). 1) Application procedure Should I email group leaders before I make any formal application to their program? I have read on this forum and maybe one or two department websites that you should do this before applying, but the majority of dept websites just say to apply straight away. As I understand it the application procedure is like this: Email Group Leaders > Formal application to University (usually online forms) > Interview (around Jan/Feb) > Get Offer I am also going to be applying for a couple of Doctoral Training Schools, I guess the procedure would be the same? 2) Open Days/Visiting There seems to be very little information about postgrad open days on a lot of uni websites, do they start later in the year or are they generally not done like at undergrad. I am thinking that if you are successful in getting an interview they will show you around the facilities anyway so that would probably be sufficient tbh. Conditional 3) Email content In an email to the group head, what should I mention? I am thinking introduce myself, say why I think their research is interesting and how it fits in with my interests, enquire as to whether there are any studentships coming up for next year. Also I would enclose an academic CV. Thanks.