The University of Southampton
Social Sciences: Politics & International RelationsPart of Social SciencesPostgraduate study

MPhil/PhD Politics |

The degree of PhD is awarded to students who complete a programme of research, present the findings in a thesis and defend it successfully in an oral examination. The object of such research is to examine a single area or problem in depth, under the supervision of an experienced member of staff, as a training programme in advanced research. It is expected that you will also acquire a rounded, overall knowledge of aspects of political science related to your proposed topic and undergo training in a variety of research methods. Teaching opportunities on our undergraduate programmes may also be available.

We are always willing to discuss research proposals with applicants and to give guidance on their scope and focus. We have no dominant or preferred approach and can offer supervision using a range of approaches: quantitative, qualitative and critical theory. We encourage applications in those areas of strength identified above and where we have particular expertise. Our scholars are active across our five C2G2 research themes and many are internationally acclaimed in their respective specialism. Our PhD students therefore benefit from academic supervisors who are at the forefront of their fields. In addition, our Division enjoys ESRC recognition for its PGR programmes. We encourage and support student applications for ESRC funding and have a good record of success. Our Division also offers a number of competitive scholarships.  

We offer PhD programmes in many areas of politics and international relations, and our Centre for Citizenship, Globalization and Governance (C2G2) is active across our five research themes. Within these areas, we pursue and supervise research across political science, political philosophy, comparative politics, public policy, global politics, international political economy and international relations. Our research interests in these areas cover a wide range of topics.

Research seminars

Research seminars are organised by the Centre for Citizenship, Globalization and Governance throughout the academic year. Papers are presented by members of staff, visiting speakers and by postgraduate research students. Research seminar series are the heart of the research community in the Division and provide an intellectually stimulating environment where research students can discuss their work and contribute to the Division's research culture. Research seminars also provide an excellent forum to discuss the latest research carried out by staff members and invited scholars. We are pleased to attract participation from a broad range of esteemed scholars, both nationally and internationally, and these seminars provide an opportunity for students to hear about cutting-edge research in progress and to participate in debate and discussion with visiting speakers.

A particular highlight of our academic year is the annual Hannah Arendt memorial lecture, given by distinguished speakers from all over the world. Recent speakers have included Anthony Giddens, Bhikhu Parekh, Brian Barry, Quentin Skinner, Jeremy Waldron and Barry Hindess.

Cumberland Lodge conference

Every year, the Division holds a weekend conference for postgraduate and doctoral students at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park.

The aim of the conference is to explore issues in contemporary political studies in a relaxed environment. Research papers are presented by both staff and students, and doctoral students in particular view the weekend as useful preparation for future participation in national and international academic conferences. We have been going to Cumberland Lodge for the past 25 years, demonstrating our commitment to providing rigorous academic training and intellectual development to our postgraduate students.

Cumberland Lodge is a wonderful location for our conference: a former royal residence and hunting lodge in Windsor Great Park, which became the home of the St Catherine's Foundation, set up by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth after the second world war to promote the pursuit of learning in a relaxed atmosphere.

The grounds of the Lodge and the walks available in the Park are spectacular, and our conference programmes always allow time for relaxation and informal discussion. We believe our Cumberland Lodge conference offers a unique experience for our postgraduate students, and is one of the highlights of our academic year.

Research training

All PAIR research students will be enrolled in PAIR's postgraduate training programme. This programme offers subject-specific training for doctoral research in political theory, political science and international relations, and examines some of the practical, theoretical and methodological concerns involved in planning and writing a thesis. It aims to assist students in thinking critically about their own research design and project and, by engaging intellectually with other research designs and projects, to reflect more generally on the nature of the PhD itself. It focuses, in particular, on the theoretical, analytical and methodological issues involved in producing doctoral research of a publishable quality and the practical issues that need to be negotiated if this is to be achieved within the specified timeframe. More broadly, the programme is designed not only to help students develop a critical awareness of the nature of the research process but also to develop other skills, such as those pertaining to teaching, funding, publishing and presenting at conferences. The programme runs over three years (or the equivalent for part-time study) and students are awarded 10 credits towards the successful completion at the end of each year. The postgraduate training programme is obligatory and its successful completion will enable research students to submit their dissertation and sit the viva at the end of the research period.

As part of the postgraduate training programme, research students who have not previously undertaken research training, or with only partial training, will also be required to attend and pass some of the following modules in year one, which are components of the relevant ESRC-recognised research training MSc programmes:

The actual package of training courses to be undertaken will be agreed by the student and his or her supervisor(s). Beyond our Division, our research students will also be expected to attend relevant workshops and courses. All students are required to attend and participate in seminars organised for research students at which work in progress is discussed.

Programme administered by

Politics & International Relations

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