We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > PIR home > News > Postgraduate Research Degrees
More in this section News articles

Postgraduate Research Degrees

Posted on 10/11/2011

MPhil & PhD

There are two types of research degree for which students may register within the Department:

A PhD is awarded to students who produce a substantial piece of original research in the form of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. Candidates for PhD are normally registered for 3 years full-time, with submission within not more than 4 years, or 4 to 7 years part-time. Students must remain registered and paying an appropriate fee until submission.

An MPhil is awarded for original research and submission of a thesis of up to 55,000 words. Candidates must normally be registered for 2 years (full-time) or 4 years (part-time).

Research students are normally registered for the MPhil degree initially. For those who wish it, and who achieve satisfactory progress, this can be upgraded to PhD registration.

From 2007, the Department is developing three new research centres. Each centre brings together internationally regarded researchers, a growing community of PhD students and seeks to build networks with other research centres in the national and international spheres. Students enrolling for a research degree will be associated with one of the centres, though these are not mutually exclusive and students are welcome to become involved in the activities of more than one. Prospective research students are strongly encouraged to find out more by visiting the Centre websites.

Apply online for a place on our postgraduate programmes by clicking here.

Research Centres

From 2007, the Department is developing three new research units: the Centre for European Politics, the Centre for Global and Transnational Politics and the New Political Communication Unit. In 2009 a fourth unit was established, the Contemporary Political Theory Research Group.

Each unit brings together internationally regarded researchers, a growing community of PhD students and seeks to build networks with other research centres in the national and international spheres. Prospective research students are strongly encouraged to find out more by visiting the appropriate websites:

Centre for European Politics

Centre for Global and Transnational Politics

Contemporary Political Theory Research Group

New Political Communication Unit

Applications and Admissions

The Department welcomes applications from suitably qualified and highly-motivated candidates. The application process for our postgraduate research programmes is an interactive one. We place great emphasis on matching prospective students to supervisors’ interests, building on our existing research activities. We are particularly keen to encourage applications in areas related to our three research centres (see above).

The Department is only able to consider applications in research areas of interest to its full-time academic staff. 

In the first instance, potential applicants should prepare a research proposal, outlining the project that they will undertake if accepted onto the PhD programme.  This should be at least 4-5 pages long and should include the key research questions, hypothesis, proposed methodology and a bibliography. Email this research proposal, along with a brief cv, to the Director of Graduate Study, Dr Alister Miskimmon.

If the proposal is met with interest by a potential supervisor, the Director of Graduate Study will invite the potential applicant to discuss their proposal further via email. UK-based applicants may be invited to visit the Department. Promising potential applicants will then be advised to apply formally for a place on our PhD programme.

Potential applicants may contact the Director of Graduate Study with proposals at any stage of the academic year. For the 2011/12 academic year, the deadline for formal applications from applicants wishing to be considered for funding opportunities from the ESRC is 10 February 2012 and the deadline for College studentships is likely to be set around the same time.

Apply online for a place on our postgraduate programmes by clicking here. 

Examples of Current PhD Topics include:

• The Clausewitzian Trinity: A theory of war for the modern world? A Balkan Case Study

• The Political Economy of Nationalism under the NDA Coalition in India, 1998–2004

• Analysing Security in South Asia: Non-State Actors and the Securitisation Framework

• Alternative Driving Forces in Regionalism in Southeast Asia: Bilateralism and Civil Society

• Institutions, Hierarchy, and East Asian Regional Society

• Theories of the Event: From Plato to Meillassoux

• Post-Existentialist Political Theory: Nietzsche, Sartre, Foucault

• Responsibility's limit?:  Understanding and attributing responsibilities in a globalized world

• A Comparative Analysis of Turkoscepticisim in the EU and Euroscepticism in Turkey

• Turkey-EU Relations from a World Polity Perspective

• The Europeanisation of Social Democratic Party Organisation - convergence or divergence?"

• The European Union as a 'Promoter of Peace'

• The influence of new EU members on the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU: Poland and the Eastern Dimention of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

• International Change, National Grand Strategy and the Future of European Power: Britain, France and Germany and the Evolution of the European Union common Security and Defence Policy and NATO (2001-2009).

• Reciprocal Tribal Dynamics across the Durand Line

• Online Mobilisation and Identity Building: A Case Study of Nosamo, a Supporters’ Network for the 16th President of South Korea

• A Comparative Study of Factors Influencing the Adoption and Impact of E-Campaigning in the US and UK

• Exploring Social Media and 'Slacktivism'

• The framing of human rights discourse in UK news media

• Interactional Dynamics Among Political Institutions: How Actors Adapt to the Internet in Democratic and Non-Democratic Regimes

• Partition Memories and Ethnic Conflict in India

• Justice, Democracy and Meaningful Work

• The Possibilities for World Government

• Environmental Initiatives as a Source of National Security

• National Thinking in the Politics of Belonging in Contemporary Japan


Each research student is allocated both a specialist supervisor and an adviser, whose role is to provide support and to review and monitor progress. All research student activity in the Department is overseen by the Director of Postgraduate Study. The Department believes that careful supervision, appropriate research and subject training, and a supportive academic environment are crucial to the successful completion of research degrees. Students’ supervisors and the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies take primary responsibility for the academic and welfare needs of research postgraduates in the Department. A departmental handbook is issued to all research students annually, and students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the College Code of Practice for the Academic Welfare of Postgraduate Research Students.

Research Training

Taught Courses
First and second year research students must attend the Department’s in-house professional development course, PR9000 Professional Development and Research Seminar, which meets on a fortnightly basis. New research students also attend, where appropriate, the quantitative, qualitative, or political theory research methods courses taken by MSc students, which are supplemented by further specialist research training courses for MPhil/PhD students, some of which are linked to our membership in the Southeast DTC. The Department is committed to research skills training for its research students, and to that end encourages participation in the Research Skills Programme provided by the College through the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. 

Teaching Opportunities

Opportunities to undertake paid undergraduate seminar tutoring may be available for suitably qualified research students, normally in years two and three of full-time registration.  Postgraduate teacher training is provided by the College for this purpose, and the Department has an established 'Teaching Circle' where postgraduate student teachers and academic staff share teaching experiences and experiences of good practice.

Sources of Funding

PIR is part of the Southeast UK Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), which was established in collaboration with social science departments at Royal Holloway, Reading, Kent, and Surrey Universities.  Through this our doctoral programme is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and we have access to ESRC +3 studentships allocated to the consortium. We are also recognised for ESRC +3 CASE studentships and welcome proposals for CASE studentships from individual students and third-party organisations.  There is strong competition for these prestigious awards and applicants who wish to be considered should begin early to locate a potential supervisor in the Department and begin working on a project application. The deadline for applications for 2012/13 studentships is 10 February 2012.

In addition there are a small number of College scholarships available, ranging from fee waiver awards to maintenance awards.  The College’s most prestigious research student award, the Reid Studentship, covers Home/EU tuition fees and provides a maintenance award of £13,250 for three years. 


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback