How to apply for an MPhil/PhD
We welcome applications from well qualified students who wish to study for the degree of MPhil or PhD, either part-time or full-time.
The most important parts of applying for a research degree are selecting your topic and identifying an appropriate supervisor. By following the procedures outlined below, you will ensure that your application is dealt with as quickly as possible.
1. Check entry requirements
- To be eligible to apply, you need a good degree in a relevant subject, normally a merit or distinction award at Master's level. See the entry requirements outlined on the Politics MPhil/PhD page for more details.
- International students should also check our English language entry requirements.
- We admit research students only when we can offer appropriate supervision, so it is important to follow the pre-admission procedures outlined in step 2 below.
2. Identify a potential supervisor
- This is the most important part of applying for a research degree. Our procedures require that a member of the Department has the experience, knowledge and expertise to supervise your topic. You should therefore first check our staff research interests to see any of them list an area related to your area of study.
3. Make a pre-admission enquiry
- Propose a topic: before submitting a formal application to the College, you should email the Department office with a description of your proposed topic, a sample of written work (such as your Master's dissertation) and your academic qualifications (please also cc: James Harding - firstname.lastname@example.org). The nature of the research project should be specified as clearly and succinctly as possible – in no more than two pages of A4. There is no need to submit a CV, but a couple of paragraphs outlining relevant qualifications should be provided.
- Await our response: the office will then log the enquiry and pass it to the Director of Postgraduate Studies, who will either identify and put you in contact with a potential supervisor from the Department, or inform you that the Department cannot offer supervision on the topic. Once the potential supervisor is satisfied that they are able to supervise the research, we will advise you to make a formal application for admission onto the MPhil programme (see step 3 below). On occasion, the potential supervisor may recommend that you apply for one of the Department's MRes degrees, which provide specialised training in research methods and on various topics in the field of politics and sociology.
- Timescales: Normally the pre-admission process will take no longer than one month from your initial enquiry (during term time).
4. Make a formal application
- Once your topic has been discussed with a potential supervisor, you will need to submit an online application by following the link at the bottom of the Politics MPhil/PhD programme page (April 2011/12 entry), or Politics MPhil/PhD (2012/13).
- The online application system will allow you to upload your research proposal, CV and any other supporting documentation (such as funding applications).
- Your potential supervisor will advise you on the kind of research proposal to submit alongside your application. However, for general advice please refer to our guide to writing a research proposal.
- If you wish to apply on paper, please contact the My Birkbeck Helpdesk to request a paper form.
5. After you apply
- Your application form will be processed on the basis of academic suitability and the availability of an appropriate supervisor.
- Our Registry will ensure your documentation is complete before passing it on to the Department.
- If the application form is in order you will be asked to attend an interview.
- The aims of the interview will be to satisfy the Department that you are able to complete the proposed research, to make a preliminary assessment of your training needs and to enable you to ask questions, to meet your proposed supervisors and to visit the College. The interview will normally last between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
- You will normally be informed of the admission decision within two weeks of your interview.
- The Department does not admit research students without an interview, but exceptionally telephone or other electronic means may be used to conduct interviews.
- If your application is successful you will start at Birkbeck as an MPhil candidate. To proceed to PhD candidacy you must demonstrate substantial progress and go through an internal review process to be upgraded. Only in exceptional circumstances is a new student enrolled directly as a PhD candidate.
- You will find further information about college admission requirements in paragraphs 5–8 of the college code of practice for MPhil and PhD degrees.