Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Open Days

POLIS runs postgraduate Open Days each year so you can meet staff, learn about scholarship opportunities and have a tour of the campus.

For more information, contact our Postgraduate Office.

How to apply

When to start?

The research training programme starts in October, and we generally prefer applicants to start then so that they can immediately attend research training classes. Applicants that wish to start in a different month may discuss the implications with their prospective supervisors before proposing a date.

Application deadlines

There is no closing date for applications; however as the application process can take some time, involving careful consideration of the research proposal by two suitable supervisors, followed by an interview by telephone or in person before final acceptance, you are advised to submit a full PhD application well before the month in which you wish to start.

Apply online


If you intend to apply for a scholarship, you are advised to submit the full application well before the closing date for the specific scholarship, as scholarship applications from candidates who have not received a formal offer of a place at the University will not be considered.

Applicants should note that scholarships are extremely competitive and are awarded on the basis of academic excellence and not financial hardship.

UK and EU candidates applying for the ESRC 1+3 scholarship programme must submit an application for taught postgraduate study AND an application for Research Degree study (only one set of supporting documents is required).

Our decision

We make our decision on the basis of the research proposal, the potential fit between your topic and our expertise, supervisors' interest in being involved, referees' reports, degree results, school resources and, wherever possible, an interview.

Please read the Notes for Guidance carefully ensuring all sections are completed fully.

We need a set of supporting documents with your application.

  • At least two references, one of which must be from the academic institution you are currently attending, or have most recently attended.
  • A copy of your degree certificate, or equivalent.
  • A transcript of your degree results.
  • A copy of your IELTS results, if applicable.
  • A research proposal
  • Guidelines to proposing a PhD project [PDF: 15KB] 

These documents should be included with the application and sent to the address on the application form. If documentation is to be sent separately from the application or in support of an online application, then these documents should be sent directly to the School, or they can be uploaded to the online application. 


The names and contact details of your referees should be entered in the referees section. A reference request form is available for you to download from the online application website to forward to your referees for their completion. The reference request forms should be returned by the referees directly to the school for an online application.

We need at least two academic references for a research degree application to make a decision and it is in your own interests to ensure that your referees are able and willing to return the form promptly to us, particularly if you have applied late in the year.  At least one reference must be from the academic institution which you are currently attending, or have most recently attended.

English language

For applicants whose first language is not English, our minimum English language requirement is an IELTS score of 6.5 with no individual component below 6 or 240 on computer-based TOEFL (580 on the paper-based version), with 4.0 on the essay rating (4.0 on the Test of Written English associated with the paper-based version) or 94 on TOEFL iBT, with minimum scores of 20 in listening, 23 in reading, 23 in speaking and 24 in writing.

The University's Language Centre offers specialised pre-sessional English language programmes, which are suitable for students going on to study in the School. These programmes are also useful in helping students acclimatise to the UK academic environment.

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