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Doctoral Programme

MPhil/PhD degrees in all aspects of politics and international relations

Doctoral Programme at the Department of Political Science

MPhil/PhD in Political Science

This programme at a glance

Programme title
MPhil/PhD programme
Supervision and research training for MPhil/PhD degrees in all aspects of political science.
1+3 Programme
Full-time: 1year on MSc/MA + 3 years + 12 months at Completing Research Student status. Part-time: 2 years on MSc/MA + 5 years + 24 months at Completing Research Student status.

+3 Programme
Full-time: 3 years + 12 months at Completing Research Student status. Part-time: 5 years + 24 months at Completing Research Student status.
£4,770 (full-time EU students) or £17,190 (full-time Overseas students). Fees relate to 2016/17 session.
Application deadline
6th January 2016 (if applying for funding), otherwise June 30th 2016.
Programme Director
Dr Lauge Poulsen

There are two programmes leading to a PhD in Political Science. Depending on your political science background at the time you apply, you will be admitted to either:

  • 3 year PhD Programme Students are registered as an MPhil student for Year 1 and upon successful upgrade, as PhD in Years 2 and 3.


  • 1+3 PhD Programme Students are initially registered as a MSc or MA student for one year. Upon completion of the MSc/MA degree, the student must fulfil the criteria to be admitted onto the research programme.

The 3-year PhD Programme

For the duration of the 3-year PhD programme students are required to attend weekly PhD research seminars either in political science or political theory. All UCL PhD students are jointly supervised by two members of academic staff in a structured process of regular meetings.

Year 1

During this year, students are required to complete the core modules that form the research methods sequence. For students undertaking empirical political science research the core modules are: Advanced Qualitative Methods and either Introduction to Quantitative Methods or Advanced Quantitative Methods (depending on prior statistical training). Students undertaking research in political theory take the political theory methods seminar. Additionally, the supervisors may require a student to attend additional substantive or methodological courses where appropriate.

In the first year students also complete two 5,000-word pieces of assessed work: Literature Review Paper (due end of Term 2) and Methodology Paper (due end of Term 3).

Initially PhD students are registered for the MPhil degree. If they wish to proceed to a PhD, their registration must be changed accordingly following the upgrade procedure, usually at the end of Year 1.

Years 2 and 3

Students continue writing their thesis. They normally present completed research at internal and external seminars and conferences., with the funding often provided by the department or other funding bodies. Students may also take additional, specialised modules and courses where appropriate (e.g. ESRC Summer School, modules offered by other departments). Progress is monitored through a combination of supervisory meetings and presentations at the PhD Research Seminar.

After three years, students may apply for additional 12 months (full time) to finish writing up their thesis. During this period students receive the Completing Research Status (CRS). There are no student fees for CRS but students have full access to UCL facilities and services during this time. 

The 1+3 PhD Programme

MSc/MA Year

In the first year (also called the M-Year) of the 1+3 programme the student is registered on one of the MSc or MA degrees and is awarded a masters degree if the requirements for the MSc/MA have been met at the end of the academic year. The student must comply with all the procedural requirements for the MSc/MA including the dissertation. For further details regarding the MSc/MA degrees, see

On admission, students are allocated a supervisor who guides a student through various stages of preparation for the PhD programme.

PhD: Years 1, 2 and 3

Students will follow the same structure as the 3-year PhD programme from this point. The only difference is that students in the empirical political science stream are not required to study the core modules in Year 1, unless this is specifically requested by the supervisors. Modules from other programmes may be substituted in their place.

Entry Requirements

Students normally register on a full-time basis, and the normal period of registration 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. Students applying for the 1+3 PhD Programme without a Masters Degree will need to satisfy only the first condition. Please note, those wishing to be considered for funding must have a First Class Honours Degree and a Distinction on the Masters Degree. 

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. We provide a template (Word) for the research proposal on our website. When choosing two potential supervisors students should make sure that their research proposal fits with the supervisors’ research interests (see Supervision tab). Students may contact the two nominated supervisors and discuss their completed research proposal with them prior to formal submission, but this is not required for the application process. 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.

Students applying to the 1+3 PhD Programme must contact the PhD Programme Administrator ( 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 template provided. 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 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. Student 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.

Visiting Research Students

Students currently enrolled on a PhD overseas can apply to study at UCL as a visiting research student to conduct Research here towards their PhD overseas. You can apply to spend 3 to 12 months at UCL undertaking research which is complementary to the Doctoral/PhD project at your 'home' university.

If you wish to apply as a Visiting Research Student you should first check that the department has academic staff in the relevant academic field who can supervise the research, and are willing to do so. Information about research interests of members of academic staff is available under Staff Supervision Research Interests (see Supervision tab). Further information and description of the application process is described on the Visiting Research Students page.

Research Proposal

Funding Opportunities

For further information, please see our current funding opportunities.

Below is a brief overview of the supervision interests of individual members of staff. More detailed information is available on their staff pages, accessible by clicking on the staff member’s name below. Prospective students should ensure that their research proposal fits with the research interests of at least two members of staff listed below.

Areas of research
Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb Quantitative approaches to the study of Human Rights Violations, Economic & Social Rights Realisation, World Bank & IMF Program Lending, and Rebellion.
Professor Richard Bellamy Legal and political philosophy; public ethics; democracy, citizenship and constitutionalism; political legitimacy and the EU, history of political thought 1750-present.
Dr Kristin M. Bakke Political violence, intrastate conflicts, separatism, decentralization and conflict, conflict resolution, post-war developments.
Professor David Coen European Interest Groups, Business and Government Relations, Regulatory Networks, European Agencies, European Public Policy Analysis.
Dr Tom Dannenbaum International Law; Legal, Political, and Moral Philosophy; Human Rights; Law and Ethics of War; International Courts; Peacekeeping
Dr Marc Esteve Public Management and Policy Implementation.
Professor Robert Hazell British politics, Constitutional reform, Comparative government, Coalition government, Civil service and machinery of government, Law and the legal system, Freedom of information and data protection, Federalism and decentralisation and Parliament and parliamentary reform.
Dr Tim Hicks
Comparative political economy; advanced industrialized economies; the politics of inequality; education (especially schools) policy in England and comparatively; privatization and marketization in the public sector.
Dr David Hudson Public Attitudes and Development, Development Studies, Global Finance, Global Poverty and Inequality, Political Economy Analysis, Network Analysis.
Dr Jennifer (van Heerde) Hudson Campaign/party finance, campaigns and elections, public opinion and opinion-policy linkages, political communication, political trust.
Professor Peter John Policy agendas, quantitative public policy, field experiments, urban political economy.
Dr Roland Kappe Political Economy, Quantitative Methods, Public Opinion, Economic Voting, Comparative Politics of Welfare and Social Policy, Education Policy and Politics, German politics.
Professor Cécile Laborde Secularism and religion in legal and political theory; republican theory; political liberalism and public reason; global justice.
Dr Emily McTernan
Distributive theories of justice; social/relational egalitarianism; the scope of theories of justice; moral and political accounts of responsibility.
Dr Nils Metternich
Statistical approaches to peace and conflict studies, ethnic violence, post-conflict institutions, and conflict forecasting
Professor Neil Mitchell Human rights, security (militias), leadership and accountability, non-state actors and business.
Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve Political Economy, Behavioral Sciences, Well-being.
Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia Human rights theory, international justice theory/global ethics, legal theory and legal interpretation, international legal theory, theories of toleration and neutrality, religion, accommodation and liberal neutrality, accounts of political and legal obligation, judicial review, constitutionalism and democratic values, social distributive justice theory, development theory, accounts of legal differentiation, penal justice theory, theories of international law, the work of John Rawls, the work of Ronald Dworkin, the political philosophy of Marx, moral methodology and political philosophy (including ethical intuitionism, ordinary language approaches, reflective equilibrium and Dworkinian interpretivism), human rights indicators and normative presuppositions.
Dr Slava Mikhaylov Energy politics and policy, international & comparative political economy, public spending and budgetary politics, EU structural funds, economic voting and European Parliament elections, quantitative text analysis.
Dr Colin Provost Regulatory policy, Public Sector Management and Performance, Environmental Policy, Financial Regulation, Policy Implementation, Organizational Design and Change, Judicial Politics.
Dr Christine Reh EU institutions, decision-making and legitimacy, informal governance, international negotiation, constitutional politics.
Professor Meg Russell British and comparative politics, in particular: parliaments and legislatures (organisation, policy impact, member behaviour, bicameralism, reform); political party organisation; constitutions and constitutional reform.
Dr Sherrill Stroschein Ethnic politics, ethnic parties, governance institutions for divided societies, autonomy structures (territorial and non-territorial), federalism and devolution, comparative study of political processes, civil society and mobilization processes, mobilization and identity-based domestic conflict, Eastern Europe, Former Soviet Union.
Dr Lisa Vanhala Comparative politics, law and courts, human rights, environmental politics, social movements, socio-legal theory and methods and qualitative methods.
Professor Albert Weale FBA Political theory and public policy, social contract theory, social Justice, democracy, political legitimacy and the EU, health and environmental policy.

Each research student will have a principal supervisor, a member of staff whose area of expertise is closely aligned with the student’s chosen research topic. It is a UCL requirement that each student will also have a second supervisor. The roles of the principal and second supervisor are explained in the Graduate School Code of Practice for Research Degrees (PDF) which also outlines the responsibilities of both staff and students.

Research with other departments at UCL

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.

Also see

BIT PhD Scholarships - October 2016 (CLOSED)

The School of Public Policy at UCL is pleased to announce the launch of the BIT PhD Scholarships Programme, a collaboration between the Behavioural Insights Team and the School of Public Policy, University College London (UCL).

These three-year scholarships will run from autumn 2016.  The scholarships can be on any area of behavioural science and public policy, but strong links between the work of BIT and the research interests of staff at the School of Public Policy or other parts of UCL are preferred.

While completing their PhD, scholarship students will work part-time at BIT, embedded within one of the relevant policy teams. Students will receive:

  • stipend of £15,000 from UCL (tax free)
  • part time salary from BIT of £12,500
  • research grant of £2,500 per annum during the PhD
  • EU/UK tuition fees of £4,770 per annum covered by BIT.  Overseas students will need to fund the remaining fee balance themselves.

Students will be supervised by Professor Peter John at UCL and Dr Micheal Sanders from BIT, as well as any other relevant academics.    

UCL has considerable academic expertise in behavioural science,with members of the School of Public Policy, Economics Department, Psychology Department, Centre for Behavioural Change and Energy Institute all conducting research in the area. 

BIT wishes to use the programme to continue BIT’s strong relationship with academia in both creating new behavioural insights as well as translating these insights into initiatives with policy impact.

Prospective students should submit their CV, as well as a two-page research proposal, to, by midnight on the 2nd May 2016. Research proposals should make clear the specific policy problem(s) to which their research will be applied.  Interviews will take place w/c Monday 9th May 2016.

For more information, please contact Informal enquiries can also directed to Peter John (

Successful applicants will then be expected to complete an application process to UCL and to satisfy UCL’s entry requirements
Applicants should have a good Undergraduate degree and Masters degree in a related discipline, for example Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, or Political Science. Knowledge of statistics or econometrics, particularly the use of Stata, is desirable but not essential.

Please note:  If you do not already hold the right to work in the UK and/or require sponsorship in order to continue working here, you should think carefully before applying.  We will be unable to sponsor you unless there is no other suitably qualified settled worker available to fill the role or your current immigration status means that the resident labour market test will not apply in your case.  Due to the volume of applications received, we are unable to provide feedback unless you are called for interview.  Please make sure that you meet the requirements of the role.

The Behavioural Insight Team is committed to a policy of Equal Opportunity and is determined to ensure that no applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of gender, age, disability, religion, belief, sexual orientation, martial status or race or is disadvantaged by conditions or requirements which cannot be shown.

Bentham Postgraduate Research Scholarships (2016/17 - CLOSED)

The department has up to three Bentham Scholarships available to prospective PhD candidates starting in 2016/17.

For the first year, the Fellowship will cover the full Home/UK fee of £4,770 and will carry the UCL/research council level stipend of £16,057. In the 2nd and 3rd years, it will cover the full fee and offer a stipend of £16,057 on the basis that the student contributes to teaching for a total of 180 hours per annum (this includes both contact and non-contact hours and is in line with research council scholarships).

AHRC DTP Awards - MPhil/PhD (2016/17)

A number of AHRC Studentships are awarded by open competition to prospective UCL MPhil/PhD students. Applicants who wish to be considered for one of these studentships must first submit a complete application for admission to a political theory or political philosophy PhD with the Department of Political Science.

All studentships are extremely competitive and only candidates with an excellent academic record and strong research proposal are awarded.

Full award studentships available to Home students cover the cost of approved tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant or ‘stipend.’  EU candidates will be eligible for a fees only award.

Further information can be found on the LAHP website.

Information about postgraduate research in political philosophy in UCL Department of Politics can be found on our website which includes details about our staff and their research interests.

ESRC DTC 1+3 and +3 Awards MPhil/PhD (2015/16 - CLOSED)

A number of ESRC Studentships are awarded annually by open competition to prospective UCL MPhil/PhD students. Applicants who wish to be considered for one of these studentships must first submit a complete application for admission to the PhD.  Full award studentships available to Home students cover the cost of approved tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant or ‘stipend.’  EU candidates will be eligible for a fees only award.

All candidates with an Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) component in their research applying for an AQM award are eligible for a full award including a stipend regardless of their fee status with UCL (Home, EU or Overseas).

Departmental Teaching Assistantships

All PhD students who are registered on the Department's PhD programme and who have successfully completed the first year in the programme are eligible to apply for a Departmental Teaching Assistantship. All eligible PhD students are considered for these positions. The duties of a Teaching Assistant include seminar teaching and coursework/examination marking.

Doctoral students who are registered at another (usually overseas) institution can visit the School for a period of time to carry out research that will contribute to their degree. At UCL, such visiting students are known as affiliate students.

The guidelines for graduate affiliate students are as follows:

  • An affiliate student is normally one who is registered for a qualification elsewhere but who wishes to study at UCL to complement the work done at his or her home institution. In appropriate cases it may be possible to assign credit for the work done at UCL, but it is not possible to receive a UCL qualification as an affiliate student.
  • Graduate Affiliate Status is expected to appeal mainly to international students. The length of study at UCL varies normally between 3 months and one year. Graduate affiliates may apply independently. Full-time and part-time affiliate study at graduate level, including research, is possible. Applicants for graduate level affiliate study must possess an acceptable university degree (or equivalent) and meet UCL's English Language requirement.
  • Tuition fees are the same as for the comparable degree programme. For affiliate research, the pro rata amount depends on the number of weeks of study at UCL. For taught programmes, the amount charged depends on which term, or terms, are spent at UCL. 
  • Applicants for graduate affiliate research admission should first check that the there is a member of academic staff in the relevant academic field who can supervise the research, and are willing to do so (initial enquiries should be sent to*

Please refer to the Visiting Research Students webpage for guidance on how to apply.

* Affiliate students are regarded as SPP MPhil/PhD students with access to the usual research student facilities (e.g. PhD seminar, student computer account, library access, PhD room access).

PhD deadlines apply.

Laura Valentini
Laura Valentini

After her PhD in political philosophy (2008), Laura has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton University, and The Queen’s College, Oxford, and visiting fellowships at the Australian National University, and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (in Uppsala). From January 2012, she will be lecturing in political philosophy at her former Alma Mater, UCL.

During her years as a postdoctoral fellow, Laura has had the opportunity to present her work at conferences and departmental seminars in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia.

Laura’s first book, Justice in a Globalized World, is due to appear at the end of 2011 with Oxford University Press. Her work has been published/is forthcoming in political science, philosophy, and IR journals including American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Economics & Philosophy, Journal of Political Philosophy, and Review of International Studies.

Yannis Theocharis
Yannis Theocharis

Yannis graduated from UCL with a PhD in Political Science in 2011.  He is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Post-doctoral fellow at Mannheim University, Germany (2011-2013), where he also lectures on Internet and Politics.  His research interests include political behaviour, internet politics, social captial and contentious politics and his work has been published in political science and communication journals including Parliamentary Affairs, Representation and the New Media & Society.

Dagi Dagiev
Dagi Dagiev

After his PhD in Political Science from University College London (UCL), has been employed at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in the Department of Academic Research and Publications, as a Research Associate. His research interests include regime transitions in post-Communist Central Asian countries, the process of democratisation, and the re-emergence of nationalism and Islam.

Katerina Mantouvalou
Katerina Mantouvalou

Katerina holds a PhD on minority rights from University College London, where she was supervised by Cecile Laborde.Katerina is a Senior Consultant in GHK’s European Social Policy group, specialising in equal opportunities in the European Union. In her role she conducts policy research for various Directorates General of the European Commission (e.g. DG Justice, DG Employment) and its agencies (e.g. European Institute for Gender Equality), as well as for the World Bank and the United Nations.Since joining GHK, she has been involved in several studies related to gender equality and human rights in Europe. Examples of her recent projects include the Second Ex-Ante Evaluation of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and a study on sex discrimination in access to education in EU Member States that was recently published by DG Justice. She also co-authors a comparative report on gender and human rights for the World Bank.

Julio Montero
Julio Montero

Graduated 2011 (human rights responsibilities and global poverty).

Current positions:

  • A permanent researcher for the National Research Council of Argentina
  • Lecturer at Buenos Aires University
  • Researcher at Argentinian Centre for Philosophical Research (CIF)

Sample publications whilst a PhD candidate:

  • (2010) ‘Do Affluent Countries Violate the Human Rights of the Global Poor?’ Global Justice: Theory, Practice and Rhetoric, 3 pp.22-42. ISSN1835 -6842
  • (2009) ‘Global Poverty, Human Rights and Correlative Duties’, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, XX11 (1), pp. 79-92. ISSN 0841 – 8209
  • (2008) ‘Global Poverty: Whose Duties? Some problems with the Contribution Principle, ‘Metaphilosophy, 23 (4/5), pp. 612-620. ISSN 0026-1068
Chiara Cordelli
Chiara Cordelli

Graduated 2011 (egalitarian theory and the private- public distinction) and AHRC scholar

Currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Standford Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), 2011-201

Sample publications whilst a PhD Candidate:

  • (forthcoming). 'The Institutional Division of Labor and the Egalitarian Obligations of Nonprofits.' Journal of Political Philosophy
  • (2010) 'Private Groups Acting Publicly: the Limits of Religious Associations' Right to Exclude" in Y. Hagiwara, ed., Democracy and Governance for Civil Society,  Tokio, fukosa
David Jason Karp
David Karp

Graduated 2010 (non-state actors and human rights responsibilities). Currently Lecturer in Politics, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow.

Sample publications whilst a PhD Candidate (2009).

  • ‘Transnational Corporations in “Bad States”: Human Rights Duties, Legitimate Authority and the Rule of Law in International Political Theory’, International Theory, 1, no. 1, 87-118. ISSN 1752-9719
  • (2009). ‘Facts and Values in Politics and Searle’s Construction of Social Reality’, Contemporary Political Theory, 8, no. 2, 152-175. ISSN 1470-8914
  • (2008). ‘The Utopia and Reality of Sovereignty: Social Reality, Normative IR and “Organized Hypocrisy”’, Review of International Studies 34, no. 2, 313-335. ISSN 0260-2105
Holding image
Shin Osawa

Graduated 2009 (Thesis: Justice and the quality of work in egalitarian theory)

Winner of the Research Incentive Award, awarded by the Japanese Conference for the Study of Political Thought

Currently: Researcher in Political Theory

Sample publications:

  • (May 2011) Distributive principles and distributive institutions: On Rawls's property-owning democracy (‘Bunpai no genri to bunpai no seido: Rawls no zaisanshoyusei minshushugi o megutte’), The Japanese Journal of Political Thought, 11, 279-307
  • (Forthcoming) ‘Workplace democracy and distributive justice: On the place of distributive justice in the arguments for workplace democracy’, Journal of Political Science and Sociology, 15
Nicole Salisbury
Nicole Salisbury

(2006- 2010) ‘The HIV prevention puzzle: Inter-organizational cooperation and the structural drivers of infection’

Currently - Research Associate, Health Systems Strengthening Unit, PATH

Maurice Wong
Maurice Wong

(2006-2010) ‘The governance of financial derivatives in China: Policy convergence and explanations for change’

Raluca Soreanu
Raluca Soreanu

(2007-2011) – ‘A Theory of outlaw emotions: Post-heroic creativities and disciplinary change in International Relations’ (funded by a UCL Graduate School Research Scholarship

Who should you contact?

Informal enquires and questions about the MPhil/PhD Programme should be directed to Dr Lauge Poulsen (

Prospective candidates are required to check that their intended area for research study falls within the area of expertise of Department staff for supervision by consulting information on research areas and supervisors (see Supervisors tab).

Queries relating to the application process can be directed to SPP Admissions (

Frequently asked questions


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The Rubin Building,
29/31 Tavistock Square,
London, WC1H 9QU.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4999,
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4978,

Postgraduate enquiries

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

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