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Application options include:

Full-time Part-time
On campus

Course Overview

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

The MPhil/PhD in Politics is an opportunity to undertake a major piece of research under the supervision of someone with academic expertise in your field. We offer supervision for a wide range of research projects, from the study of public policy to social and political theory. On completing your MPhil/PhD you will have developed advanced skills in research and scholarly writing, and will be able to use these to embark on, or further, a career in research. If, like many of our students, you choose to study part time, you may have the opportunity to apply your developing research skills in your current career.

Current research spans the broad areas of: social and political theory; modern British politics and society; comparative public policy; civil society and the state; gender; public policy; nationalism and ethnicity; religion and politics; international relations, international security and terrorism; European politics; politics of development; theoretical approaches to armed conflict and international politics; and politics and society in Russia, North America and the Middle East. 

Key information

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  • We provide a supportive and stimulating environment for full- and part-time research students. At any one time, between 25 and 30 research students are registered in the various sub-fields of politics, political science, political and social theory and international relations.
  • Find out more about undertaking MPhil/PhD research in politics
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework with 83% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

    Entry Requirements

    Good first degree in a relevant subject.

    Successful completion of a taught Master's degree.

    English language requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa and funding requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant visa and funding requirements by country.

    Please note students receiving US Federal Aid are only able to apply for in-person, on-campus programmes which will have no elements of online study.

  • Fees Fees


    Politics MPhil/PhD: 7 years part-time or 4 years full-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2024-25

    Academic year 2024–25, starting October 2024, January 2025, April 2025

    Part-time home students: £2,539 per year
    Full-time home students: £4,786 per year
    Part-time international students: £7,525 per year
    Full-time international students: £14,885 per year

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their course. Tuition fees for students continuing on their course in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    If you’ve studied at Birkbeck before and successfully completed an award with us, take advantage of our Lifelong Learning Guarantee to gain a discount on the tuition fee of this course.

    Fees and finance

    PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    We offer a range of studentships and funding options to support your research.

    Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

    International scholarships

    We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship.

  • Our research culture Our research culture

    Our research culture

    Study resources include regular graduate research seminars, courses on research methodology and the opportunity to attend a wide variety of taught MSc classes, both at Birkbeck and the University of London, and to participate in national and international research conferences and seminars. Additionally, we organise regular seminars and conferences and act as a centre for the discussion of public policy and research in this field.

    We run regular events with leading academics and policy-makers from the UK and beyond and host Birkbeck’s Birkbeck Centre for British Political Life and Population, Environment and Resources Working Group.

    Birkbeck Library has an extensive teaching collection of books and journals in politics and sociology. It also has an impressive range of electronic resources, including bibliographic databases and over 17,000 electronic journals. Most of these resources can be accessed online 24 hours a day. It is worth spending some time on the library website to familiarise yourself with its collections and services.

    You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library.

    Read more about our vibrant research culture.

    Recent research topics include:

    • Kurdish politics in Syria
    • Westminster guarded: party nomination processes and women candidates in Canada and Britain
    • Impact of user involvement on NHS governance
    • Evaluating the impact of interorganisational networks in urban regeneration on unemployment policy outcomes
    • The relevance of cosmopolitan democracy as a possible framework for understanding political transformations in East Africa
    • Discipline and process: new phases in the rational modernisation of political organisation
    • Revolution, myth and the origins of Fascism.

    Training and teaching opportunities

    From the application form and interview we ascertain the level of training you have already received and indicate if the school requires further training to occur. We provide a range of skills training, and you will be directed to appropriate advanced training outside the College.

    Some research students have the opportunity to teach for one to two hours a week on Birkbeck's undergraduate and master's programmes; where this is the case, you receive close supervision from full-time staff and are required to attend the school part-time teachers' training sessions.

    We encourage students to attend lecturer-training courses provided through the College.

  • How to apply How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.

    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. You may also find it helpful to view the research projects of our current students

    3. Contact the academic member of staff for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

    4. Email us with a pre-application enquiry that includes the name of your potential supervisor, a two-page research proposal and your CV. 

    5. Draft a full research proposal. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal

    6. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress. 

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You must submit a detailed outline of your research proposal, together with a supporting statement as to its importance and originality. You will also be asked to supply examples of your written work. There is a pre-application procedure.

    You can apply at any time during the year. Entry months for the programme are October, January and April of each year.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

    Apply for your course

    Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section.

  • Finding a supervisor Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in politics is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors.

    Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

    • Antoine Bousquet, BSc, MSc, PhD: war and society; political violence; international political and social theory; history and philosophy of science and technology, with a particular interest in complexity science.
    • Professor Alejandro Colás, BSc, MSc, PhD: international relations theory; the international politics of the Maghreb; the historical sociology of the international system, with special attention to the history of empires.
    • Dionyssis G Dimitrakopoulos, Ptychio, LicSpec, PhD: politics of European integration (especially theories of integration; the EU policy process; executive politics in the EU; the state and the EU); social democracy; the role of ideas in the policy process; policy change; institutional change.
    • Jason Edwards, BA, MSc, PhD: contemporary social and political theory; the history of political thought from the sixteenth century onwards; Marxism; the philosophy of the social sciences.
    • Ali Burak Güven, BSc, MSc, PhD: international and comparative political economy; international organisations and global governance; politics of development; institutional theory and analysis; politics of banking and finance; agricultural policy and trade; Turkish politics/political economy; qualitative methods.
    • Professor Deborah Mabbett, BCA, DPhil: the politics of reforming public and social policy; the effect on national welfare states of EU and WTO policies; and other aspects of the governance of public policy, including the role of the courts, central/local relationships and transnational policy-making.
    • Professor Robert Singh, BA, DPhil: the politics of US foreign policy.
    • David Styan, BA, DEA, PhD: international political economy; foreign policy analysis and development issues; French and British foreign policy, particularly towards Africa, the Middle East and development policy.
    • Matthijs van den Bos, MA, MA, PhD: post-migrancy and transnational networks; political anthropology/sociology of Iran and its diasporas; Tajikistan; (Twelver) Shiism and its global renaissance; modern Sufism, East and West; European Islam; democratisation in the Middle East; classification theory; new media.
    • Ben Worthy, BA, MA, PhD: transparency, government openness and open data; political leadership; the information society; E-government and digital democracy; British and comparative politics; public policy and policy-making.