Research course

Politics and International Relations

University of Glasgow · College of Social Sciences

Entry requirements

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

Research proposal

A good proposal should contain the following elements:

  • a straightforward, descriptive, and informative title
  • a clear account of exactly what the question is 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
  • an assessment of the key theoretical, empirical and/or policy literatures to which the study will contribute
  • an indication of the theoretical/analytical frame that will be utilised by the study
  • 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

The length of the proposal should normally be no more than 1500 words not including references.

These are general guidelines for writing a research proposal and applicants should follow more specific instructions if provided by Schools or scholarship application procedures.

Months of entry


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.

Politics & International Relations at Glasgow produces innovative and influential research across four main subfields of the discipline:

  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory
  • Area Studies

We have an active and engaged international community of doctoral students and pride ourselves on our active co-supervision by staff with complementary expertise. We work to foster this community through our research seminars, research clusters, professional development sessions and regular staff-student social events.

We are part of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Scottish Doctoral Training Centre (S-DTC).


Prospective students are encouraged to discuss their research ideas with members of staff who are specialists in their fields of interest before applying.

Comparative Politics

  • Authoritarianism
  • Business & politics
  • Democracy and democratisation
  • Elections and voting, including referenda
  • Energy policy
  • Environmental policy
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) politics
  • Political communication
  • Political economy
  • Political parties
  • Political psychology
  • Politics of education
  • Politics of migration
  • Public opinion [especially elections, political trust, participation and democratic support]
  • Social movements and political activism
  • Welfare policy

Broad expertise in comparative politics of China; Western, East and Central Europe; the European Union; United States; Russia and the post-Soviet region; Latin America; and the Middle East. For some topics we have research expertise also on Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

International Relations

  • Conflict and political violence
  • Critical security studies and approaches to peace
  • Development and foreign aid
  • Emotions and aesthetics in global politics
  • Foreign policy analysis
  • Gender and development
  • Humanitarianism
  • IR theory
  • International cooperation and international organisations
  • International development
  • International organisations
  • International political economy
  • International security
  • Migration and refugee politics
  • Post-colonial and decolonial international relations
  • Securitisation theory
  • Transnational politics (non-state actors)
  • War: causes and origins
  • War: strategic studies

Broad expertise in international relations in Europe (East, West and Central); Russia & the post-Soviet region; the European Union; North America; and the Middle East. For some topics we have research expertise also on Africa, the Caribbean, China, the Pacific and South Asia.

Political Theory

  • Climate change ethics
  • Distributive justice
  • Egalitarianism
  • History of political economy
  • History of political thought
  • Liberal and conservative political thought
  • Methods in political theory
  • Political philosophy
  • The Scottish Enlightenment
  • Area Studies
  • Chinese politics
  • Central & East European politics
  • Latin American politics
  • Russian & post-Soviet politics
  • Southern European politics

Information for international students

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • 7.0 with no sub-test under 6.5.
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details