Research Degrees in

Politics, Political Theory and International Relations

in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Do you want to advance or change your career, deepen your expertise in a topic, or expand your research and practical skills?

With a PhD or other postgraduate research degree in the areas Politics, Political Theory and International Relations you will:

  • Work with leading experts in the field. Our researchers’ expertise includes domestic and international politics; critical political theory; comparative public policy; social movements and the politics of protest; and the politics of storytelling.
  • Choose from our flexible study pathways. We offer full-time and part-time PhD, MPhil and MA by Research programmes. We offer a distance learning PhD programme for those with professional or personal commitments that prevent them pursuing a campus-based degree.
  • Join a thriving intellectual community. Our new History Research Centrewill deliver world-leading research engaged with contemporary societal, cultural and political issues.
  • Engage in innovative public engagement programmes. RAH! (Research in Arts and Humanities) is a curated programme of public lectures, performances, film screenings, fairs, interventions, discussions, artist happenings and augmented reality.
  • Undertake tailored personal and professional development training. The Postgraduate Arts and Humanities Centre provides a comprehensive development programme for research students.

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Areas of supervisory expertise

We can supervise all areas related to Politics, Political Theory and International Relations. Particular areas of focus include:

  • Critical political theory
  • The European Union
  • European energy policy
  • Energy and environmental security
  • Twentieth century British political history
  • The foreign policy of the United States since 1945
  • American domestic politics
  • International relations theory
  • Comparative public policy
  • Russian foreign policy
  • Social movements and civil society
  • Technology and politics/power
  • Politics of storytelling
  • Narrative and literary approaches to International Politics
  • Critical and poststructuralist International Politics.

Find out more about our staff's expertise

Research culture

Our Politics researchers undertake innovative research into contemporary and historical politics. We have expertise in domestic politics and international relations (with particular interest in the US and Russia ). We also undertake collaborative, cross-disciplinary research with colleagues in History, Public Services, English Literature, and Philosophy.

More about our research culture

We organise a range of seminars and workshops, inviting many prestigious external speakers. We host the annual Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conference that explores the ideas that inspire popular movements.

We have also recently launched two new research centres: History and Applied Social Sciences. These interdisciplinary centres seek to undertake research that makes a real policy impact at a local, regional, national and global level. We are also home to a number of other research projects and initiatives that inform our work, including the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage and the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU).

The social and intellectual life of the Faculty is enhanced by the Postgraduate Arts and Humanities Centre (PAHC) which provides:

  • HARTS Online, an online community, news and events portal
  • A thorough research development programme
  • A space for cross-disciplinary discussion, support and experimentation
  • Hive, an academic e-journal, edited by current students
  • RAH!, an innovative programme of socially and culturally engaged public engagement events.

Courses offered, duration, and start dates

Programmes offered

  • PhD (3 years full time, 6 years part time)
  • PhD by Published Work or Professional Practice (course duration varies by route taken and candidate's background)
  • Master's by Research (1 year full time, 2 years part time)
  • MPhil (18 months full time, 36 months part time).

Find out more about the different research degrees we offer

Start dates

The majority of our students enrol in October. We offer further enrolment points in January and April.

Distance learning

Research degrees are available to study on-campus or through distance learning.

Career prospects

A research degree in politics gives you an exceptional understanding of the contemporary moment and the dynamics of power.

You will graduate with advanced analytical and research skills that equip you for a range of senior roles in academia, the public sector, local, national international organisations, or a range of other sectors.

Course structure

This course is research based. You will independently conduct research into your own topic or a topic that we advertise. Your supervisory team will offer expert guidance throughout your studies and review work in progress.

Each year, you will follow a programme of training and development to enhance your research methods, subject-matter expertise and professional skills.

Fees and funding

Find out more

Postgraduate Research Degrees Fees

Please refer to our Fees page for more information on tuition fees.

Loans for research degrees

Many of our PhD and Professional Doctorate programmes are eligible for the government's Doctoral Loan Scheme. MPhil and MA/MSc by Research degrees are eligible for a Postgraduate Loan.

Find out more about tuition fees and financial support


Each year we offer a number of competitive scholarships to support high quality research projects. Current scholarship opportunities in Politics are advertised on our site.

Sign up to be notified when relevant scholarships are advertised

Entry requirements

Find out more

You should, as a minimum, have a first or 2.1 honours degree or an equivalent qualification.

International students must demonstrate a sufficiently high standard of English language ability.

We welcome interest from applicants from non-standard backgrounds. We will take subject knowledge, professional experience, publications, or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment into consideration.

See more about our standard entry requirements.


Before applying for a research degree, you should have a preliminary discussion with a member of staff about your project and ideas. To arrange this, please email Dr Adi Kuntsman (, the Research Degrees Co-ordinator for Politics.

For further information on the application process, contact the Faculty’s research degrees administration team:, +44 (0)161 247 5412.

How to apply

Apply now

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online using the link below. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Before you apply, you should discuss your project with a member of academic staff. You should also complete the Postgraduate Research Degree Supplementary Information form which you will then upload to the ‘Student documents’ section of the application form. This collects key information about your research application and there may be delays if you do not submit this document.

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Postgraduate Study