Institute of the Americas MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The UCL Institute of the Americas is a leading multidisciplinary specialist institution for the study of Latin America, the United States, the Caribbean and Canada. It acts as a focal point in the UK for students and researchers seeking to develop in-depth regional and continental knowledge of the Americas.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

Normally a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The institute is a hub for research on the Americas, with a unique hemispheric provision covering the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Research students work with leaders in the field to conduct cutting-edge research in history, politics, economics, anthropology, social policy, sociology, political economy, environmental studies, international relations and development.

Who this course is for

Students who wish to undertake a research project at a leading specialist institution, and develop in-depth regional and continental knowledge of the Americas.

What this course will give you

At the UCL Institute of the Americas, research students thrive in an environment that offers in-depth and world-leading expertise, world-class libraries and excellent study facilities in central London. Moreover, our unrivalled events programme hosts many of the leading scholars working on the Americas today and our Fellowship programmes allow scholars from across the region to participate in, and enhance, the scholarly life of our community. In this world-class environment, our research students have an unmatched opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and networks to succeed in any number of fields, including academia, the third sector, and government.

The foundation of your career

With our strong emphasis on current affairs, public policy and recent history, our research degrees open up a wide range of exciting career options for our graduates.  Some of our recent students have gone on to academic careers, while others work for government departments in the Americas, international organisations, pressure groups, charities and other Non-Government Organisations.


Graduates are employed in universities, think tanks, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, international bodies, and other institutions around the world.


Our research students participate in a lunchtime research seminar comprising both fellow research students and IA faculty colleagues, and also attend the two exciting visiting speaker series that the Institute organises each year.  Doctoral students also participate in a U.S. history visiting speaker series organised by the Institute of Historical Research, together with others that focus on Latin American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Canadian Studies.  Additionally, there are opportunities to attend special events organised by London-based organisations outside of UCL, including embassies, the British Library, the American Politics Group, and the British Museum.

Teaching and learning

The mode of instruction for a doctoral student is different than that for an undergraduate or a student undertaking a taught Masters degree.  A research degree requires greater levels of intellectual independence and fewer formal assessments.  At the same time, the role of a supervisor and the larger intellectual community at the institute are crucial.  The supervisorial team will offer close feedback on draft work, while a student-only doctoral workshop and a faculty-student ‘research seminar’ provide opportunities to receive feedback from the larger community.

All students have to ‘upgrade’ from MPhil. to full PhD status during their second year. This involves the student submitting examples of their early work and a plan for the dissertation and persuading an interview panel that they are making satisfactory progress.

Research students will normally have a one-on-one meeting with their primary supervisor once a month, but the frequency varies depending on the needs of the student and the point where they are at with their research and writing.

Research areas and structure

The Institute of the Americas occupies a unique position at the core of academic study of the region in the UK, promoting, co-ordinating and providing a focus for research and postgraduate teaching on the Americas, including Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States.

Particular fields of research expertise at the institute include:

  • Climate change and sustainable development
  • History of the Americas
  • Human rights, justice and democratisation
  • Labour history, politics and policy
  • Race, ethnicity and gender in the Americas
  • Social policy in Latin America
  • State, market and the economy
  • The Caribbean: history, politics, society
  • The US presidency
  • US foreign policy
  • Comparative, international and transnational studies of the Americas.

Research undertaken by members of staff, associates, visiting fellows, and research students spans the whole of the American continent, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

It also covers the study of relations between regions in the Americas and of relations between the Americas and the rest of the world. The research community is focused on producing ground-breaking research at the forefront of several academic disciplines while contributing to the development of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the Americas.

The institute is also actively engaged in research at the interface of academia and policy, engaging a broad range of stakeholders, including government, NGOs, communications media and civil society in the UK, the Americas, and beyond.

Research environment

The Institute of the Americas is one of the foremost centres of academic study of the region in the UK, promoting, coordinating and providing a focus for research and teaching on the Americas - Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. As part of our mission to promote specialist regional and comparative knowledge of the Americas, the institute organises one of the largest programmes of public seminars, lectures, conferences and symposia on the Americas in the UK, serving the scholarly, diplomatic and public policy communities. We also support and coordinate a number of national and international scholarly networks, including, for example, the British Network on Latin American Politics, the Inter-American Human Rights Network and the UCL Americas Research Network, the latter founded and run by doctoral students at the Institute to facilitate interaction between postgraduate students and early career researchers working on any aspect of the Americas within and beyond UCL.

Staff and postgraduate research conducted at the institute covers a range of disciplines, with specialisms in history, politics, human rights, anthropology, development and environmental sociology, as well as interdisciplinary perspectives on thematic concerns such as gender, ‘race’ and ethnicity. The institute also maintains strong links with organisations outside the academic sector, including NGOs, think tanks, and government agencies, collaborations with whom add to the vibrant research environment.

The length of registration for the research degree is 3 years for full-time study and 5 years for part-time study. 

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva. 

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may register as a completing research student (CRS) while you write up your thesis. 

Year One: You will receive a departmental induction into the Institute of the Americas as well as attending inductions and events provided by the UCL Doctoral School. Your initial meetings with supervisors will include: 

  • Agreement of your exact project of work. 
  • A timetable for supervisor meetings and progress reports. 
  • Discussion and provision of any necessary research equipment and facilities. 
  • Review of the Doctoral Skills Development Programme to ascertain which areas of training and activity would be most beneficial and relevant to you. This may include arrangements for any further required study such as language courses provided by the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE). 

Typically, by the end of the first year, you will have drafted an introduction, literature review, methodology, thesis outline, fieldwork plan (where relevant) and timetable for completion. Submitted work is discussed in regular supervision sessions at intervals agreed between you and supervisor. 

Year Two: Typically this is the year that you will undertake a good proportion of your data collection during fieldwork, and for most at the Institute, this is off-campus. You are required to meet all the necessary requirements relating to research ethics approval and risk assessment before embarking on fieldwork research. 

You are also usually expected to undertake your upgrade viva in the second year (no less than 9 months and no more than 18 months from initial registration for full-time students). To successfully upgrade to PhD you are required to submit an upgrade report, usually consisting of a literature review, methodology, research plan, timetable for completion and a substantive piece of work towards the objectives of the thesis. You are also required to undertake an oral examination (upgrade viva) on this work to a panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and one other member of the academic staff. 

You will continue to receive supervisory support, whether in face to face supervisory sessions, or (in the case of those undertaking fieldwork abroad) via Skype, email etc. 

Year Three: Typically, the third year will be spent in the analysis and writing up of the data. You will agree upon your thesis structure and a timetable of thesis writing with your supervisors. Submitted work (e.g. draft chapters) will be discussed in supervision sessions at agreed intervals. 

Year Four: The PhD programme is expected to be completed within 3 years for full-time students, and over 5 years for part-time students. If you are not ready to submit at the end of the third year, you may be able to go onto to CRS to complete writing up your thesis. Your supervisors will read and comment on a complete draft of the thesis to be submitted at an agreed date in advance of the formal thesis submission.

The length of registration for the research degree is 5 years for part-time study. You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £28,100 £14,050

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

Additional research costs associated with PhD research vary depending on the project. Some students may need to complete research trips, both in the UK and overseas, depending on the scope of their research. 

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

The Institute of the Americas offers a number of funding opportunities.

UCL Institute of the Americas attracts students funded by Mexican, Chilean, Ecuadorian and other national funding agencies.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship (ROS)

Deadline: 12 January 2024
Value: UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

Applicants should visit the institute website for details on how to identify potential supervisors and apply for the programme. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department 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 the UCL How to apply page.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

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