Entry requirements

Our research degree applicants will usually possess a good Master’s degree (or overseas equivalent), with a significant component in politics.

Your proposed research topic should be in an area in which supervision can be offered. You may find it helpful to search our staff research profiles.

Required documentation

Applicants should submit:

  • Transcripts/degree certificate
  • Two references
  • A one-page research proposal
  • CV
  • Name of potential Supervisor

Research proposal

Candidates are required to provide a single page outline of the research subject proposed (approximately 1000 words). This need not be a final thesis proposal but should include:

  • a straightforward, descriptive, and informative title
  • the question that your research will address
  • an account of why this question is important and worth investigating
  • an assessment of how your own research will engage with recent study in the subject
  • a brief account of the methodology and approach you will take
  • a discussion of the primary sources that your research will draw upon, including printed books, manuscripts, archives, libraries, or museums
  • an indicative bibliography of secondary sources that you have already consulted and/or are planning to consult

Months of entry

January, December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February

Course content

The UK funding councils assessed two thirds of our research outputs as world-leading or internationally excellent, in the Research Assessment Framework (REF) 2014.

Most research in Politics is grouped within one of four research clusters:

Along with Edinburgh and St. Andrews, we form the Politics and International Relations pathway of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Scottish Doctoral Training Centre (S-DTC).

We have an active and engaged community of doctoral students, about a third of whom are from the UK with the rest coming from countries around the world. We work to foster this community through an annual retreat, our research seminars and regular staff-student social events (including the annual Munro Challenge).

Topics for supervision

We offer supervision across a wide range of subjects, reflecting our strength in depth in Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory.

Comparative Politics topics for which supervision is available include political parties, institutions and change; elections and voting; comparative constitutionalism; gender; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) politics; human rights; political communication; political economy; political psychology; politics and popular culture; environmental policy; welfare policy. We have particular expertise in the politics of China; Europe, including Scotland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Greece, the European Union; Russia; Latin America.

With regard to International Relations we offer supervision with respect to: international cooperation and international organisations; international political economy; international development; international security; human rights; gender and development; foreign aid; foreign policy analysis (particularly of the European Union, Russia and China); humanitarianism; post-war conflict and violence; legitimacy and communicative ethics; just war tradition; English School; transnational politics (non-state actors).

In Political Theory we can supervise PhD theses on: contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy; contemporary social theory; German political thought; the history of political thought; human nature and politics; jurisprudence; liberalism and philosophical anthropology; freedom of speech/expression; ethics and international law; cosmopolitanism; moral epistemology; distributive justice; feminist theory.

Start dates are set by both the supervisor and the department. As such some PHD options will have fixed start dates (likely January/October) and others have a rolling intake. For more details please contact the relevant department.

Information for international students

Please see the English Language requirements if your first language is not English. Please also see the international page.

Fees and funding

Please see the postgraduate research scholarships.

Qualification and course duration

PhD

part time
60 months
full time
36 months

Course contact details