A PhD at Essex makes you a member of the best political science department in the UK. We are renowned especially for our expertise in the areas of political behaviour, comparative politics, ideology and discourse analysis, international relations, and conflict resolution. Whatever the field, politics at Essex is all about moving from opinions to evidence. Always seeking out cause and effect, in our research we cast light on important questions across the political range, and also some that you might never ordinarily connect to politics or government.
Our PhD programme provides you with advanced research training and supervision by globally leading scholars. We work with you to analyse and explain significant political outcomes such as war and peace, transitions to democracy, the way governments shape the economy, and the results of the elections.
Our dedicated staff don’t just teach you politics; they teach you how to think and write about politics, and our PhD students are successful as a result. They present findings at international conferences, they have published in acclaimed political journals such as the Journal of Politics, International Organization, Electoral Studies, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Peace Research, and the Journal of Education. They’ve also won a number of prestigious prizes for their work, including the Peace Science Society’s Stuart Bremer Award and the Cedric Smith Prize for Conflict Research).
The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your experience as a research student. Your supervisor – or, in some cases, co-supervisors – guides you through the different stages of your research degree. Initially they help you to develop your research topic and plan, and then you participate in regular one-to-one meetings to comment on drafts, resolve problems and to maintain progress on your research.
Twice a year you have a supervisory board meeting which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.
We have desk space available for all our PhD students through shared offices and hot desks, with additional office space provided for all those involved in teaching undergraduate classes.
You also get exclusive use of a shared computer laboratory of fourteen networked computers feature extensive software for political analysis. Our university library provides access to a variety of political journals and multiple copies of textbooks, e-books, and other materials to support your learning.
Many of our graduates secure post-doctoral research or teaching positions within universities. For example, recent graduates are now research fellows and academic staff at Oxford, University College London, Mannheim, ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Amsterdam, and Duke University in the US.
Other graduates go on to enjoy influential careers in British, European and international politics. This includes working as political lobbyists or researchers for MPs and MEPs. Our graduates also work in the Civil Service and in local government, for the World Bank, the United Nations, NATO, YouGov, or work in the armed forces, finance, or business.
You will need a good honours degree and a Masters degree in a relevant social science. A well-developed research proposal is also essential.
You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.
Our department maintains a lively, friendly, and supportive atmosphere for research. We also provide a number of training opportunities and support services to aid your studies and to help prepare you for employment:
In your completion year you should be revising and rewriting chapters. You submit your approved thesis to an internal reader for comments, and then submit your final thesis before the end of the academic year.
We expect our PhD students to complete their PhD within four years of entering, so you are monitored regularly to ensure you are progressing.
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.
We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.
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