International Relations PhD

The PhD is normally studied over three years full-time, although it is possible to take the degree over up to 6 years on a part-time basis. After this minimum period of registration, every student is entitled to a continuation period of one year for purposes of writing up the thesis. Continuation year is one year whether a student has been pursuing full-time or part-time study.

During the first year of study, you will undertake a tailored programme of generic and subject-specific research and general training. At the end of this year, subject to satisfactory progress, you will progress from probationary to PhD status. Members of the Postgraduate Research Committee meet with all First Year students in the spring to review progress. Successful completion of the First Year Review enables PhD students 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 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 should arrange to meet as soon as possible with your supervisor to develop your research training programme.

The first element of your training will be taking 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 1st year annual progress review which is held in March/April of your first year of study.

The second element of your training will be participation in at least four 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 attendance in 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. It is compulsory to audit one of these courses. The courses on qualitative or quantitative methods are the most popular for IR 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 successful completion of your PhD studies. You should consult with your supervisor to determine the best options for you. These modules are as follows:

  • Being a Social Scientist explores the fundamental skills required by all social scientists. In part one, you will learn how to design and produce a research dissertation. In part two, issues of professional development (e.g. ethics, careers, grant writing) will be addressed.
  • Philosophy and Methodology of Social Sciences covers the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, encouraging you to make connections between the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research.
  • Qualitative methods in Social Research offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research.
  • Quantitative methods in Social Research provides a user-friendly introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis.

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.

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