School of Society and Culture

PhD International Relations

Conduct research at the cutting edge of the discipline working alongside a team of specialist academic advisers and renowned experts qualified to supervise research topics such as: the European Union’s foreign relations, Iranian politics and foreign policy, international security, NATO, Italian foreign policy, global environmental politics, international trade politics, development aid and international political economy.

It is a very exciting time to be researching International Relations and the group's research covers a range of themes. You will work on an advanced research project with a supervisory team of academic experts under the Director of Studies.You will develop your professional and research skills as well as your research in a range of contexts, as very much a part of the school’s research culture as we seek to engage with policy-makers and the public.

Course details
  • Programme overview

  • Our themed research groups are: Health, Vulnerability and Inclusion; Environment, Harm and Culture; and, Global Instability and Society.

    This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake.

    You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.

    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (up to 80,000 words), or one that combines critical writing with artistic, creative and/or professional practice, and a viva voce (an oral examination).

    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our postgraduate research degrees pages.

    Core modules

    • Research International Relations (GSRINRE1)

    • Research Skills in the Arts, Humanities & Business (MARE707)

      This module provides students with research skills training and a critical awareness of different methodological approaches in the arts, humanities, business, education, social sciences, law and associated fields, to enable them to make appropriate choices in their own research. It is designed to complement and support individual research projects carried out by students.

  • Year 2

  • Core modules

    • Research International Relations (GSRINRE2)

  • Year 3

  • Core modules

    • Research International Relations (GSRINRE3)

  • Year 4

  • Core modules

    • Research International Relations (GSRINRE4)

  • Year 5

  • Core modules

    • Research International Relations (GSRINRE5)

  • Final year

  • Core modules

    • Research International Relations (GSRINRE6)

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.
Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have completed a masters level qualification to a high standard (e.g. at 'merit' or 'distinction' level) as well as either a good 2:1 or first class honours undergraduate degree in an area of study appropriate to your project proposal. We are happy to consider equivalent qualifications (for instance, you may have studied different subjects at undergraduate and masters level but have worked in and/or developed an interest in your sector since then). We also accept exceptional undergraduate students (1st class) from a cognate discipline straight in to PhD where there is an associated excellent research proposal.

If you do not already have a masters degree, you may be interested in one of our masters level research degrees – for instance ResM Politics and International Relations (which enables a transfer directly into the PhD programme if you are making excellent progress), an MPhil degree or MSc. Further details about the University’s research degree awards.

You will also need to provide evidence that you are ready to pursue the project you propose in your application. This will take the form of a research proposal.

If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.


Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

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Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees.

If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.

If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional 'writing up' period of up to two years.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal. Your research proposal should outline your research topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, a brief literature review, your proposed methodology, and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.

Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community.

Submitting your application

Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.

Questions on the application process?

We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College team and we'll be happy to assist you.

You can view or download our postgraduate research admissions policy.

If you have a disability and would like further information on the support available, please visit our Disability Services website.

International Student Advice (ISA) provides support for our international students.

Find more information about how to apply for a research degree.

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