Political Science MPhil/PhD

Research areas:

Academic staff have a strong record of research and publication within all the main subfields of politics, including:
  • British politics: Constitutional and parliamentary reform, devolution, freedom of information and electoral participation; alternative electoral systems
  • Comparative politics and government: Democratisation and democracy promotion; the politics of ethnicity; political campaigns and electoral behaviour; comparative urban and local politics; public opinion
  • EU politics and public policy: EU decision making and institutions, regulation and delegation, lobbying, constitutionalism, citizenship and democracy
  • Human rights: Human rights and non-state actors; corporate responsibility for human rights violations; theories of human rights and justice; adjudication and interpretation in international legal bodies; democracy, religion and human rights standards; trade and human rights; global poverty and human rights; militias, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and transnational corporations
  • International relations: International peace and security; globalisation and global governance; international migration; international finance and the political economy of development
  • Political economy: Comparative and international political economy; distributive politics; public spending and budgeting; economics of happiness; behavioural genetics; political economy of energy and climate change
  • Public policy: Business-government relations, including EU and the USA; formal models of executive and bureaucratic politics; and public ethics
  • Political theory: The history of modern political thought – particularly nationalism, liberalism and republicanism; multi-culturalism, toleration and citizenship; democracy and constitutionalism within and beyond the nation state; contemporary political philosophy.

IRIS logo

Visit the IRIS research portal to learn more about researchers' activities, research groups, research centres and interdisciplinary networks across the whole of UCL.

IRIS department: Dept of Political Science

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree or its overseas equivalent and/or merit in Master's, with minimum 65% mark for the Master's dissertation.

English level expected: Advanced


Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed in Next steps, right) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.


  • UK/EU Full-time: £4,500
  • UK/EU Part-time: £2,250
  • Overseas Full-time: £16,200
  • Overseas Part-time: £8,250


A departmental studentship and partial bursaries are available from the Department of Political Science and Constitution Unit for research students applying for entry in 2014/15.

Several Departmental Postgraduate Teaching Assistantships are available annually for enrolled PhD students. The department has ESRC Scholarships available for Master’s and PhD study. Further details at www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/teaching/funding

Scholarships available for this department

Wolfson Scholarships

The intention is that Wolfson Scholarships will be awarded to outstanding students who demonstrate the potential to make an impact on their chosen field. Wolfson Scholarships will be awarded solely on academic merit. Ideally the successful students would aspire to an academic career.

Full details of funding opportunities can be found on the UCL Scholarships website


Our research students have entered a wide range of career paths including top academic positions in UK and overseas institutions (e.g. Universities of Oxford, and Tokyo), international organisations (e.g. United Nations, European Commission), private sector (e.g. BNP Paribas, GlaxoSmithKline), NGOs (e.g. Smithsonian Institution, Amnesty International) and government (e.g. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, House of Commons).

Top career destinations for this programme

  • UCL, Lecturer in Human Rights, 2011
  • Stanford Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2011
  • University of Glasgow, Lecturer in Politics, 2010
  • SOAS, Lecturer in Global Energy and Climate Policy, 2011
  • Clarifix, Research Analyst, 2011
  • Institute of Ismaili Studies, Research Associate, 2011


This is one of the few PhD programmes in the UK that provides training in quantitative and qualitative research methods as an intrinsic part of the programme.


Networking opportunities include particular institutional and departmental connections with key external people and institutions which are supplementary to the taught element, such as speakers from Whitehall, lectures from policy makers and academics, and alumni talking to current students.

Next steps


SPP Administrator

T: +44 (0)20 7679 4982/4950


Political Science

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Prospectus subject

Political Science

Faculty overview

Social and Historical Sciences


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Student View

"I chose to apply for graduate study at UCL because the programme was extremely attractive, the supervisors that I was going to work with were great, and because the environment at my department fosters healthy competition and self-development."

Javier Sajuria

Degree: PhD

Alumni View

"I was able to develop my research interests into a more focussed package, which then helped me enormously when drafting my PhD research proposals."

John-Paul Salter

PhD Candidate, UCL School of Public Policy, 2011