Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Postgraduate researchers working together

A PhD is an internationally-recognised research qualification.

Studying for a PhD in the School of Politics and International Studies will allow you to become an expert in a specialist area, develop advanced research skills and enhance your professional development. The programme will equip you to embark on professional research careers both within and beyond the university sector.


As a PhD candidate, you will conduct original research under the guidance of two supervisors and produce an original thesis of approximately 100,000 words.

For the first twelve months, or eighteen months if part-time, you will be enrolled as a provisional PhD candidate. In this period, you will undertake our Foundations in Postgraduate Research induction programme and research training tailored to your needs. You will develop a detailed research proposal and write a literature review chapter. This work is then submitted to a panel of examiners who assess it and provide you with feedback and advice on the progress of your research.

This procedure is called 'transfer' and is an important means of monitoring the progress of your work, supporting your academic development, and assessing whether your proposal has enough weight to be accurately explored through a PhD research path.

After successfully transferring, you will enrol as a full PhD candidate, complete your research and write a thesis of approximately 100,000 words. 

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded on the basis of this thesis, and your viva voce, where you present and discuss the rationale, methods and findings of your original study with an examining panel.


A PhD can be taken full-time (three years) or part-time (five years).

Areas of supervision

Our research supervision offers a wide breadth of activity across several key academic teams. 

The School has a thriving research community, supported by more than 50 academic and research staff. Explore our research centres to discover the themes and supervisors relating to your field of study:  

Centre for Democratic Engagement

Centre for Global Development

European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Centre for Global Security Challenges

Centre for Contemporary Political Theory

Many of our academic staff are also involved in the Leeds Social Science Institute which fosters interdisciplinary research collaborations and provides training for our postgraduate researchers.