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MPhil & PhD in Politics

  • Length
    3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time
  • Department
    Politics and International Relations

Course overview

We accept students into the Department of Politics and International Relations on the basis of a match between your proposed research and the current research interests of a potential supervisor as well as an assessment of qualifications and suitability for a research degree.

Initial discussions about supervision are therefore on the basis of a brief research proposal prepared by prospective students before a formal application is made.

If you'd like to come and discuss your research with the Director of Postgraduate Studies and/or with a potential supervisor, please contact the Departmental Secretary to make an appointment.

Registration and study

Initially, you register for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programme to train you in the research methods necessary to complete a PhD.

You can apply to upgrade to PhD registration when you have satisfactorily completed an agreed part of the research and training programme; this usually happens before 18 months if you are studying full-time, or before 36 months if part-time.

You should aim to complete and submit your PhD thesis within an agreed period, usually three to four years for full-time students, and four to six years for part-time.

If you decide not to upgrade to PhD registration, you can submit your thesis for an MPhil after two years if you are studying full-time, or after three years if part-time.

With the agreement of your supervisor, you can change your registration from full to part-time or vice versa.

North American applicants especially should note that the British system does not include preparatory taught classes or examinations as part of the MPhil/PhD programme, except for an initial module in research methods.

Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Professor Sanjay Seth

Structure

Research supervision

You're assigned members of staff qualified to supervise your research throughout your period of registration. Please see our staff page for details of the teaching staff and their research interests.

You usually have a single supervisor, although in some cases joint supervision is agreed, and two members of staff are involved in the supervision.

Supervision involves regular meetings throughout the period of study, and ideally involves the development of an intensive intellectual relationship between you and your supervisor, from which both parties gain.

Research training

All research students who have not completed an MRes or MPhil degree will have to attend modules on quantitative and qualitative research methods held in their first year of study.

A College-wide programme of research training is also provided, which involves an induction module (which all students should attend), introduction to information technologies and the use of library and bibliographic resources, basic training in quantitative research methods, and sessions on research planning, presentation skills and ethics.

Optional elements

There are seminars held within the Department, which you can attend. Also, you may, after consultation with your supervisor, audit the appropriate postgraduate options from any of the taught MA/MRes programmes offered in the Department. This involves participating in seminar discussions and/or writing coursework, but not being formally assessed for the course.

Assessment

Examination of the MPhil and PhD is by a thesis (60,000 words maximum for an MPhil and 100,000 words maximum for a PhD) and a viva voce.

Department

Voted one of the top political universities in the UK by students*, and ranked in the world's elite**

Politics and International Relations

In the Department of Politics and International Relations at Goldsmiths our focus goes beyond voting systems, parliaments and the conventional arenas of power. And it looks beyond the West. 

We study politics and international relations for the 21st century, in which anarchism may be as important as liberalism, and in which Asia and Africa are as economically and geopolitically important as Europe and North America. 

We also take an unconventional approach. So you may be working on group projects, writing a blog, or submitting a Manga comic instead of an essay.

Find out more about the Department of Politics and International Relations.

*Which? University 2016
**QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017

Facilities

You have access to Goldsmiths’ Graduate School based in the Whitehead Building. There are PCs and Macs, a kitchen space and a quiet work space. The School also hosts a series of seminars and other activities during the year, which are open to all postgraduate research students and staff in Goldsmiths. 

Staff in the Graduate School oversee research students’ progress and wellbeing and coordinate the generic training courses for postgraduate research students.

Staff

Skills & careers

Careers

Central and local government; management and personnel work; finance; the media; teaching, lecturing and research; health service administration. Many of our graduates undertake professional training in law, accountancy, journalism, business administration, teaching, social work or nursing.

Skills

You'll develop:

  • a critical awareness of social and political issues and processes
  • originality in engagement with the discipline of political science
  • communication and presentation skills

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

Student profiles

Elizabeth

"Studying for a PhD at Goldsmiths was a fantastic experience."

"Studying for a PhD at Goldsmiths was a fantastic experience; I had access to knowledgeable academics and was supported throughout the entire process. Being part of the University of London is a valuable resource, moreover studying British politics at an institution with links to 'real world politics' allowed me to develop connections with politicians and civil society organisations alike."

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you'll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • Contact details of a second referee
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Details of your research proposal

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to get in touch with the programme contact, listed above. It may also be possible to arrange an advisory meeting.

Before you start at Goldsmiths, the actual topic of your research has to be agreed with your proposed supervisor, who will be a member of staff active in your general field of research. The choice of topic may be influenced by the current research in the department or the requirements of an external funding body. 

If you wish to study on a part-time basis, you should also indicate how many hours a week you intend to devote to research, whether this will be at evenings or weekends, and for how many hours each day.

Research proposals

Along with your application and academic reference, you should also upload a research proposal at the point of application. 

This should be in the form of a 2,000-word statement of the proposed area of research and should include: 

  • delineation of the research topic
  • why it has been chosen
  • an initial hypothesis (if applicable)
  • a brief list of major secondary sources

When to apply 

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified. 

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

The Department of Politics and International Relations regularly offers postgraduate bursaries for this programme. Find out more about our departmental awards. We also offer a Research studentship funded by the London Borough of Lewisham.

AHRC & ESRC Funding

Students applying for this programme are eligible to apply for AHRC studentships and ESRC doctoral training studentships, which cover fees and a maintenance allowance for the duration of the programme. 

Find out more about AHRC and ESRC studentships in the Department of Politics and International Relations.

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