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  1. Research degrees
Study at City

PhD / MPhil International Politics

City's International Politics research degree is highly relevant for understanding the complex issues of power, social change and policy-making in the world today.

Key information

Start date



Full-time: 2-4 years

Part-time: 4-7 years



Full-time: £4,590 per year

Part-time: £2,295 per year


Full-time: £12,240 per year

Part-time: £6,120 per year


The International Politics research degree is intended to produce scholars who have the analytical and methodological skills to design independent research projects, generate publications that advance substantive and theoretical knowledge and understanding and who are able to teach at university level. The substantive and methodological nature of the PhD programme, the diverse research interests of staff members and our London location have resulted in the completion of a range of innovative doctoral dissertations.

The programme attracts students from a variety of geographical locations, meaning that you are part of a cosmopolitan research community. Since its establishment in 2005, the Department of International Politics at has expanded rapidly, building a growing group of scholars who conduct cutting edge research on a variety of topics in the discipline of international relations and related fields.

Research in International Politics at City has a strong inter-disciplinary focus and our research staff collaborate with academic staff at universities across the UK and internationally. Our faculty has expertise in a broad range of topics related to international affairs, politics, and political economy.

You will become part of a stimulating research environment by participating in the activities of the School's research centres: the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) and the City Political Economy Research Centre (CITYPERC).

The current research interests of our staff can be found on our staff profile pages.

The profiles of our current PhD students and recently completed PhDs can be found on our research students pages.


Entry requirements

Applicants should have a track record of high academic achievement, demonstrated by a good undergraduate degree with at least a second class (upper division) pass or equivalent; plus a good Masters-level degree with at least a pass with merit (or equivalent).

English requirements

For students whose first language is not English, the following qualifications will meet the English language requirement for entry to a postgraduate course of study:

  • A first degree from a UK university or from the CNAA.
  • A first degree from an overseas institution recognised by City as providing adequate evidence of proficiency in the English language, for example, from institutions in Australia, Canada or the USA.
  • GCE O-level/GCSE English language or English literature, grade C minimum.
  • An overall score of 7.0 in the English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum of 6.5 for each subtest.
  • Other evidence of proficiency in the English language which satisfies the Board of Studies concerned.

Visa requirements

International Students (EEA and Non EEA) coming to study in the UK, may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study. The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • EEA nationals joining the programme in 2020 and EEA nationals joining from January 2021
  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

For more information see our main Visa page.


Students on graduate research programmes are initially registered for an MPhil award. Promotion to registration to PhD is not automatic, but contingent on the satisfactory outcome of a review process towards the end of the first year of registration for full-time candidates and towards the end of the second year for part-time candidates.

You will submit a substantial formally constructed upgrade or transfer document for assessment and present at the annual research colloquium. Subject to demonstrating, both in writing and presentation, the intellectual and methodological ability and motivation to complete a PhD and providing a viable timetabled plan for timely completion of the research, you will be upgraded to PhD. Your progress is periodically assessed during years two and three of research. This also ensures that you are receiving appropriate levels of supervision, training, and practical support.

The programme will conclude with submission of your research in the form of a PhD thesis and attendance at a viva voce examination in front of at least two examiners, at least one of whom will be external to City.

For full details about the City PhD programme structure, please see the Guide for Research Students.

Funding options

Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.

You pay the above fees (which usually increase each year in line with inflation) annually until you are ready to go into 'writing up' status, whereby you are no longer researching your research topic and requiring supervision, and are solely preparing your thesis for examination. You will not be required to pay further tuition fees but you will be charged the writing-up fee of £300 which will cover you for the duration of the writing-up period (a maximum of 12 months for full-time and 18 months for part-time students).

If a student fails to submit their thesis within the maximum writing-up period, they will be reverted to full registration (full-time or part-time depending on their status before moving to writing up) and will be required to pay the full fees. Students will only be expected to pay for the time taken to complete the thesis and once the thesis has been submitted the remaining proportional fees will be refunded to the student.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

The Government has introduced a new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans scheme which can provide a loan of up to £25,000 over three years to support study for a doctoral degree. A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study and can be used alongside any other forms of support you may be able to receive, for example from industry or business or through your PhD supervisor.

Find out more about Postgraduate Doctoral Loans



Research students are appointed a supervisory team consisting of at least two supervisors. One of these will be designated as the first point of contact with personal responsibility for ensuring that effective supervision is provided so that students can develop the skill and knowledge to contribute to research as professionals in a supportive research training environment.


During the PhD Programme you will be provided with a range of academic and training support opportunities in order to facilitate your research.

Specialist theoretical, empirical and research training is provided both by the Department and across the School of Arts and Social Sciences and the institution. Throughout the research process you will also discuss individual training needs with your supervisors in order to identify subject or topic specific training.

You will be able to draw from the numerous core research training courses offered by the School of Arts and Social Sciences as part of its MSc Research Methods. In addition, the School of Arts and Social Sciences and City offer a number of workshops covering the transferable and generic skills required for postgraduate study and career development.

Find out more about our research masters degree training provision.

Research Environment

Our students constitute an important part of a stimulating research environment.  Doctoral students are housed in shared rooms of the Social Sciences Building, and have direct access to staff members, research events in the School and beyond, as well as to state of the art research facilities.

The Department has established a research seminar series where scholars from other universities as well as members of their department present their research to our students, as well as a regular PhD seminar series where students have an opportunity to present their own research.

Students play an active role in the department's research centres (the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) and the City Political Economy Research Centre (CITYPERC)), attending and assisting with their events organised by these centres.

As appropriate to their research interests and needs, throughout the study period, students are encouraged to attend specialist seminars, conferences and graduate summer schools. Our location ensures that students also have the opportunity to participate in the numerous research events organised by London's world class universities and public and private institutions.

How to apply

Preliminary enquiries

When considering potential applicants, we attach great importance both to the applicant's academic profile and record of achievement, and to the fit between the proposed research and the interests of the supervisor. It is therefore essential that potential applicants identify staff with relevant research expertise, and then contact an individual member of staff to discuss their willingness to offer supervision for their particular topic before submitting a formal application to undertake a research degree. Please consult staff profile pages for our specialist research profiles and interests. Before looking for a potential supervisor, please carefully check the minimum entry requirements, both regarding English language proficiency and marks in relevant previous qualifications.

Please note that we will not consider applications unless the applicant has initially discussed their proposal with a member of staff.

Research proposal

Please limit your proposal to no more than five sides of A4. It should address/demonstrate the following points:

  • Working title
  • Description and justification of the research topic you have chosen to address
  • Review of existing research literature
  • Research questions
  • Research methodology for your proposed study
  • Research timeline or workplan
  • How your proposed research links up to the research interests of the Department and potential supervisors
  • References or short bibliography.

Find out more about how to prepare your research proposal.


We accept applications on an ongoing basis for entry in late September.

To apply online, you will need to submit the following supporting documents:

  • Your research proposal
  • Cover letter (max one side of A4), explaining the preferences regarding potential supervisors and the motivations for applying to the PhD programme in the International Politics Department at City
  • Two academic references (or one academic and one professional referee where appropriate) sent by email from an official work (not private) email account
  • Copies of your degree transcripts and certificates  (originals or certified copies)
  • Proof of your English language proficiency (if English is not your first language).

Application Deadlines

Applications for the 2021/22 academic year should be submitted before the 31 May 2021.