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School of Politics and International Relations

How to Apply for a Research Degree

photo of queen mary's graduate centre from outside

Online applications are made by using the links in the ‘Apply online’ box here, but please read the following information carefully before applying. Applications for admission can be made for both full-time (4 years) and part-time study (7 years). 

The first step in applying to do a research degree is to identify a potential supervisor and project. Full details on this process can be found here: Choosing a project and supervisor. If you cannot find a suitable supervisor and would like to know whether the School of Politics and International Relations would be able to supervise your project, please contact us at

Admission requirements and deadlines

Applicants are expected to hold a good first degree of at least 2:1, or equivalent, and/or a Masters degree of at least Merit, or equivalent (usually 65% and above), in politics and/or international relations, or a cognate discipline. Relevant experience within the field may also be taken into account. If English is not your first language, take note of any English language requirements. The College’s standard requirement for English is IELTS 7.0 (6.5 Writing) or equivalent. More details about language requirements can be found in the international students section.

There are no set deadlines for applying for a research degree, unless you are applying for a funded place. Funded places normally have a deadline of late January. Normally, you start the PhD programme in October as it allows you to take full advantage of our training programmes.

Research proposal

When corresponding with a potential supervisor or project leader, it is essential that you include

  • A short version research proposal. The short-version research proposal sets out what you intend to do during your degree and establishes your research in relation to other work in the field. The proposal should be maximum 1,000 words long and include an indicative bibliography (not included in the word count)
  • Your CV.

More information about the structure of your research proposal can be found in the ‘How to draft a research proposal’ section.

Application form

Once you have established contact with and received positive feedback from a suitable supervisor or project leader, they will encourage you to make a formal application. Online applications are made by using the links in the ‘Apply online’ box here.

You application will consist of the following:

  1. Completed application form
  2. Transcripts of your previous degrees
  3. Proof of English language ability for overseas applicants from non-English speaking countries
  4. Curriculum Vitae (CV), or Résumé
  5. Your full-length research proposal of 2,000 words (excluding bibliography)
  6. A short statement (no more than 4,000 characters in length, including spaces) explaining why you want to study with us. This should address the following: previous academic and other experience relevant to your proposed research; why you wish to undertake this research at Queen Mary; what research training and professional preparation you have already received, and what further training you think you will need; any ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking your research.
  7. Two references. If you are still studying for your Masters degree, it is essential that one of the referees is able to comment on your progress so far and your predicted grades. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that your references are returned before any advertised deadlines. The College or School will not pursue outstanding references on your behalf. If references are not received by the advertised deadline, your application will not be considered any further.
  8. Please indicate how you will finance your studies. The application form asks ‘How do you intend to finance your studies at Queen Mary University of London’. Please select the relevant answer from the drop-down menu. If you want to be considered for funding, including QMUL scholarships, please give details of the scholarships you are applying for in the funding section of the application form. This may be the QMUL Principal’s Studentships, Graduate Teaching Studentships, ESRC London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS-DTP) Studentships, Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships (QMUL-LTDS), or any other scholarships, sponsorships or grants.

Fuller details on the application process are here

Please note that if you are applying for funding from the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS DTP), you will need to complete an additional application form. You will need to liaise with your supervisor about completing the DTP form. This is available to download from the LISS DTP website.

Next steps

You application will be assessed by members of staff in the School led by the School’s Director of Graduate Studies. If your application is successful you will receive an offer of a place from the College’s central Admissions Office. You may be invited for an interview before a decision is returned and an offer made. Applications for funded places will be shortlisted and successful candidates invited for an interview. Please note that it is not uncommon to receive an offer of a place before funding is confirmed. If this happens, please make sure you accept the offer within the timescales given to you by the Admissions Office. If you are unsuccessful in securing funding, you may withdraw your acceptance of the offer, ask to defer until the next academic year, or switch to part-time study. We endeavour to respond to all completed applications within 6-8 weeks.



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