Department of Political Science


Postgraduate Research

UCL's PhD programme in Political Science is one of the best in Europe. Our empirical students are given extensive training in methods and research design to prepare them for jobs in and outside of academia, and our political theorists form part of one the world's leading research clusters in political and legal philosophy. Our integrated core curriculum is combined with access to a wide range of specialised modules across a variety of sub-fields and the programme further distinguishes itself by extensive and institutionalised student-faculty interaction as well as small cohorts resulting in a closely-knit PhD community. 
When people ask me I always tell them that the PhD programme is very community based and inclusive, really supportive and you get so much help from your peers, and I always stress how egalitarian the department is as we’re treated on equal terms and included with the faculty.

Alexander Fitzpatrick - Current PhD cohort



Entry Requirements

Students register on a full-time basis, and the normal period for completion is 3 or 4 years, depending on the applicant's qualification in Political Science.
Minimum academic requirement for entry to the PhD Programme are (1) Upper Second Class Honours Degree (or equivalent) and (2) Merit (or equivalent) in a recognised Masters Degree course and (3) a minimum 65% mark on the Masters Degree dissertation. At least one of the three has to be a First Class/distinction (or equivalent).  Students applying for the 1+3 without a Masters Degree will need to have a First Class Honours Degree (or equivalent). * in highly exceptional circumstances and in consultation with prospective supervisors, these criteria may be subject to revision.


+3 PhD Programme

For the +3 PhD Programme qualified students submit an application form using the online UCL Admissions system. The application form asks for a research proposal and names of two potential supervisors, both items are required for the application to be reviewed.  Failure to identify two supervisors at this stage will result in a delayed application.  We have a research proposal template for you to use a guidance. When choosing two potential supervisors students should make sure that their research proposal fits with the supervisors’ research interests (find out about our academic staff here). Students may contact the two nominated supervisors and discuss their completed research proposal with them prior to formal submission.  If students decide to discuss the proposal with the nominated supervisors they should contact the two supervisors only, clearly stating in their correspondence the names of both proposed supervisors. 

Application Deadline: 8th December 2023 (for those applying for funding) otherwise April 30th 2024  - Please note the preliminary deadline Monday 15th January 2024 for ESRC applications

Candidates applying before 31st December 2023 will be notified of the outcome by February 2024.  Candidates applying after December 31st will be notified by May 2024.   Application deadline April 30th 2024

Candidates must also identify all their funding intentions in the relevant section of the application form and inform the PhD Manager of their intentions.  Failure to do so will result in a delayed application or non inclusion in funding pools.

1+3 PhD Programme 

Students applying to the 1+3 PhD Programme must contact the PhD Programme Manager (polsci.admissions@ucl.ac.uk) and discuss the application requirements before submitting the online application form. For the M-Year students apply to a MSc or MA programme at the department. In addition to the Masters Degree application, students submit a research proposal using the research proposal template. We expect the proposal to be less developed than for the +3 PhD Programme application but it still has to cover all the areas identified in our research proposal template. At the end of the M-Year students submit an application for the +3 PhD Programme that contains all the required information described in the relevant section above. Students may wish to change the research focus after the M-Year, and, with the help of the M-Year supervisor, this may be reflected in a new research proposal as part of the +3 PhD Programme application.

Note: We only offer this programme on a full time basis and do not offer either part time or distance learning study.

Research Proposal

Before you apply you should draft a detailed research proposal. It must address relevant literature and clearly outline the research question, research design (including data and methods), relevant literature, and expected contribution. It is important that the proposal is considered realistic and feasible in practical terms.  After having drafted the proposal, you need to identify and get in touch with a potential supervisor whose research interests align with what you want to study. You should email the academic you are interested in working with directly. This is an important step.


Before you apply you need to get in touch with a potential principle supervisor with your draft detailed research proposal. A list of supervisors and a brief overview of their research interest can be found here. As each student will also have a second supervisor, prospective students should ensure that their research proposal fits with the research interests of at least two members of staff listed here. Students may add two more supervisors when they join the department if they wish. Note, however, that students can also apply to carry out research jointly supervised by the School of Public Policy and another Department at UCL if the subject area would benefit from expertise across disciplines.

The roles of the principal and second supervisor are explained in the Graduate School Code of Practice for Research Degrees which also outlines the responsibilities of both staff and students.

Will there be an interview?

Applicants will be required to attend an interview prior to an offer being made for the MPhil/PhD programme. The interview does not require applicants to prepare any additional documents, but rather is an opportunity to discuss the proposed research in further detail. For applicants residing outside London, interviews may be arranged by phone or Skype.

Note: If offered a place applicants may defer their offer subject to Programme Director approval.


UCL Application Deadline: 8th December 2023 (for those applying for funding) otherwise April 30th 2024.

  • EU  students will be liable for international fees from 1 August 2021 onwards.
  • If you deferred entry to a date past 31 July 2021, you will be liable for the new fee rate.
  • If you are currently studying for a degree in the UK and are living in the UK as of 31 December, 2020, you should be able to apply for pre-settled/settled status ; you must apply for this status by 30 June, 2021. N.B. UCL cannot currently confirm the fee status for those with pre-settled/settled status for entries after 1 August 2021.
  • Departmental Clara Collet Scholarships (2023/24): UK/EU/Overseas (information tbc)

  • ESRC Scholarships (2023/24) : UK/EU and Overseas - see website for details.  ESRC Studentships are awarded annually by open competition to prospective UCL. UK Students are eligible for home fees and a stipend.  EU/Overseas are eligible for Home fees and stipend (tbc). However, projects using Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) are eligible for a full award including a stipend regardless of their fee status with UCL (Home, EU or Overseas). Applicants who wish to be considered must first submit a complete application for admission to the PhD programe in the Department of Political Science noting their ESRC intention and must also submit a preliminary application to UBEL by Monday 15th January 2024 (23.59)

  • AHRC Scholarships : Open for Applications, November 27th 2023. Subject to availability, these awards will cover tuition fees for a maximum of 3 years at the Home rate (tbc), annual stipend of approx £17,609.   LAHP has a limited number of full awards (fees and stipend) for EU students designated 'fees-only' by AHRC (tbc).  Please consult website for eligibility details. 

  • Research Excellence Scholarship (RES): The Research Excellence Scholarships (UCL- RES) is our new prestigious scholarship which aims to attract outstanding scholars to undertake doctoral research at UCL. 40 fully-funded awards are available annually.

  • The UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship (UCL-ROS) - Windsor Fellowship to support BME postgraduate research degree students: The UCL-ROS scheme offers full financial support and a skills development programme, both designed to promote academia as a more attractive career option.

Who should you contact?

Queries relating to the application process, including funding, can be directed to:

Other informal enquiries and questions about the MPhil/PhD Programme can be directed to: