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Research degrees

Research degrees

We offer three types of research degrees:

  • 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. PhD candidates are normally registered for three years full-time, with submission within four years, or four to seven years part-time. Students must remain registered and pay 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 two years (full-time) or four years (part-time).
  • An MRes is awarded for original research and submission of a thesis of up to 40,000 words. Candidates must normally be registered for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

The overwhelming majority of our research students are studying for a PhD. Research students are registered for the MPhil degree initially and are later upgraded to PhD status, subject to satisfactory progress.

For information on how to apply for a research degree, follow our department's step-by-step guide. There are also a range of options for funding your research degree in the department.

Our research community

We have more than 40 PhD students pursuing cutting-edge research, and undertaking advanced training, in the areas of new political communication; elections, public opinion and parties; comparative politics; politics of Africa, Asia and the Middle East; international relations; and political theory.

Royal Holloway is ranked 9th in the UK for international outlook in the Times Higher World Rankings. The academics in the Department come from 10 different countries and our students represent countries from across the globe. Overseas students play a vital role in ensuring that our department benefits from a diversity of experience and skills.

Our department also has several research centres, bringing together internationally regarded researchers and our community of PhDs.

Our research training

Through dedicated programmes in the department, and at University level, we offer our postgraduate research students relevant and timely training in research-specific and transferable skills.

First year doctoral students attend compulsory training courses in quantitative methods, qualitative methods and the foundations of contemporary political theory. First and second year doctoral students also attend a fortnightly research and professional development seminar that provides training and advice in writing book reviews, getting published, achieving impact, entering the academic job market and more, and in which students develop and present their research to one another and to staff.  

We are committed to ensuring that you are well-equipped, not only to complete your studies but also to develop your future careers.

Our successful community

Many of our postgraduate students, even before they complete their studies, are presenting their work at international conferences and publishing in top-ranked journals. Our students are also deeply committed to public engagement, not only in the UK but also around the world.

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