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PhD in International Relations

The PhD is normally studied over three years full-time, although it is possible to take the degree over up to six years on a part-time basis. After this minimum period of registration, every student is entitled to a continuation period of one year to write up their thesis. The continuation year is one year whether a student has been pursuing full-time or part-time study.

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During the first year of study, you will undertake a tailored programme of generic and subject-specific research and general training.

Members of the Postgraduate Research Committee meet with all first-year students in the Spring to review progress. PhD students who successfully complete the first-year review are able to upgrade from a probationary status to full PhD status. A successful outcome requires:

  • satisfactory progress on your research (based on your supervisor's recommendation),
  • satisfactory completion of the IR5601 Research Methods in International Relations module, and of your research proposal,
  • satisfactory completion of your first-year training programme.

 Your research will lead to the production of a thesis of up to 80,000 words. View previous students' theses.

First year training programme

The first year of your PhD is an important and busy time. At the beginning of your first year, you will meet with your supervisor to develop your research training programme.

The first element of your training is the IR5601 Research Methods in International Relations module. This module meets during the Autumn semester, providing an introduction to research skills, methods, and practices specific to international relations. As part of this module, you will complete a methodology assessment and a research proposal. The proposal and feedback is part of your submission for the first-year annual progress review which is held in March or April of your first year of study.

The second element of your training is participating in at least four and GRADskills short courses. These are designed to provide you with help in research management, personal effectiveness, networking, and career management.

The third element of your training is attending one or more of the four social science modules offered by the University. These are focused more directly on social research methods and are taught by social scientists from throughout the University. The courses on qualitative or quantitative methods are the most popular for international relations students. While you may wish to choose courses related to the methodologies you are likely to employ, you may also view these courses as an opportunity to develop your wider training which can be extremely useful when applying for jobs after successfully completing your PhD studies. You should consult with your supervisor to determine the best options for you. These modules are as follows:

Completion of these elements of your research training will ensure that you can conduct research within the community of St Andrews and for your future career in international relations.