Research course

Politics and International Studies

University of Warwick · Department of Politics and International Studies

Entry requirements

The research proposal is arguably the most important element of your PhD application. You need to submit a fully specified research proposal at this stage; while we fully acknowledge that your project will evolve as you conduct your research, you must submit a convincing proposal, worked up in full, which is sufficiently rigorous and of sufficient quality before you will be allowed entry onto our programme. The most important element of your PhD application is the research proposal. Please consult the notes of guidance(PDF Document) before you submit your proposal to ensure that you have included everything required to give your proposal the best chance for success. The notes also contain important information about the overall application process.

It is important to note that your proposal must be of sufficient quality, or your application will not be successful. A bad proposal will result in rejection, even if your qualifications and references are outstanding.

Months of entry

January, October, September

Course content

Undertaking a research project that spans at least three years* can be a daunting task. While not as structured as a taught postgraduate programme, the PhD in PAIS is segmented into four stages, each with distinct milestones to help you monitor your progress and pursue your research at the best pace. You can also supplement the standard PhD programme with additional training provided by the Graduate School.

Year 1

Your first year lays the foundation for your research. On the bespoke PhD training module, Doctoral Thesis Writing in Politics and International Studies, you will develop doctoral researching skills and collaborate with your peers to overcome the challenges of PhD research.

This seminar will also prepare you for the first year review, which takes place each May. This review, involving both written and presentational elements, is used to determine whether you are ready to upgrade from MPhil student to a full PhD.

Year 2

During your second year, you will continue to attend advanced training seminars in the department while you dig into the heart of your research. Many candidates use part or all of the second year to conduct fieldwork elsewhere in the UK or abroad.

The second year culminates in a formalised progress review signed off by your supervisors.

Year 3

While you should be in the habit of writing from day one, the process of tying your thesis together and finalising it for submission begins in earnest during year three and normally continues into the first part of year four.

A final progress check is conducted at the end of this year.

Year 4

Although you should aim to finish in Year 3, realistically most students submit their thesis in year 4. The University does not normally allow an extension beyond Year 4.

Year 3/4

Submission of thesis: You should aim to submit your finished thesis in the first 6 months of your fourth year. After you submit, you will defend your thesis in front of internal and external examiners as your final assessment for the degree (the viva).


Submission of major/minor corrections, according to the viva outcome.


*Full-time students are registered for 4 years initially, the fourth year being a writing-up period not subject to fees; part-time students are initially registered for 5 years. Part-time students are still expected to submit First Year Review documents during year 1 of their studies.

Additional training

Additional research training and personal and professional development are available through the department, the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre, the Graduate School, and the Library. You can also sit in on key MA modules by arrangement with your supervisor and relevant module director if appropriate. Warwick also provides additional support through the Careers & Skills Office to help you build your CV and enhance your employment prospects well ahead of graduation.

Department specialisms

Political Theory and Philosophy; International Political Economy; Globalisation and Development; International Relations; International Security; Public Policy; Comparative Politics; Environmental Policy; Democratisation; area specialism in East Asia, UK, US, Europe and the Middle East. Our research sits within four broad clusters: Comparative Politics and Democratisation Political Theory International Political Economy International Relations and Security We cover a vast array of research areas, so please do visit our research pages to find out more:

Research Excellence Framework (REF) score

We were ranked 1st for research environment in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework

Information for international students

Minimum English language requirements: IELTS 7 or equivalent. For further information, see the Warwick Admissions website:

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

The PAIS department and University of Warwick offer a range of funding opportunities, which are advertised with full application details on the PAIS website:

PAIS is also a consortium partner in the EU-funded Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctoral Programme 'GEM.'

Qualification and course duration


part time
60 months
full time
36 months


full time
24 months
part time
36 months

Course contact details

PAIS Postgraduate Office
024 7652 3486
024 7652 4221