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Guidance for Applicants

PhD applications

The Department of Political Economy offers four PhD programmes:

Please visit King's Centre for Doctoral Studies to find out more about our postgraduate training facilities.

If you have any questions, visit our FAQ page

Departmental requirements

To apply for a PhD in the Department of Political Economy, you will need:

  • A good Master’s degree in a relevant subject and/or relevant practical experience. We normally look for at least high Merit grades (high 60s) at the MA level, or overseas equivalent.
  • Transcripts of your academic performance.
  • A proposal of up to 3,000 words plus references.
  • Two references, preferably both academic, at least one of who taught you on your Master's (your referees will be contacted by King's and asked to submit a reference electronically).
  • A sample of relevant written work, in English (e.g MA dissertation).
  • A good supervisory fit.

The university has other criteria (e.g. visa eligibility, language qualifications) but these are dealt with by the Admissions Office  and not by the department.

Prospective Supervisors

Before applying for a PhD with the Department of Political Economy, you will need to consider potential supervisors for your project, since PhD students within the department will generally have both a primary and secondary supervisor. To identify prospective supervisors, you can examine the department’s academic profiles, which contain more information on the supervisory interests of our academic staff.

You might wish to examine our research groups to narrow down which staff are likely to be most suitable. Note that each PhD student is requested to join at least one research group, and joining multiple research groups is encouraged. There are eight main research groups within the department:

  • Quantitative Political Economy for those interest in researching politics and/or public policy using quantitative methods;
  • Political Theory for those who want to write a thesis in political philosophy, the history of political ideas, or related fields;
  • Global South for those interested in global political and economic trends, south-south comparisons, and political and economic developments in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia;
  • Political Economy of Peace and Security for those interested in the dynamics of armed conflict, political violence, and peace and development;
  • Public Policy and Regulation for those who wish to conduct research on policy and regulatory responses to important political, social and economic issues, and (individual-level) responses to these policies;
  • Politics, Philosophy and Economics for those interested in interdisciplinary questions spanning these three disciplines;
  • Comparative Politics for those who wish to research political institutions, representation and regimes;
  • British Politics and Government for those interested in historical or contemporary developments in politics and economics within the UK.

If, after looking at the groups, you are still not sure which supervisor fits your research interest you can contact the PhD Director, Dr Rubén Ruiz-Rufino.

Please only e-mail one prospective supervisor at a time, to see if they are available and potentially interested in supervising your planned research. You do not need to secure a secondary supervisor prior to making an application to King's, but you should nominate one or more potential primary supervisors on the Research Proposal section of your application (see below). 

As part of your application, you should send:

  • A research proposal of up to 3,000 words (not counting references).
  • A personal statement of up to 1,000 words explaining your motivation for conducting the PhD.
  • A summary and/or transcript(s) of your academic performance so far (e.g 2:1 from Warwick in Economics, MA in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown with a GPA of 3.865).
  • Two supporting academic references.

Note that supervisor expressing an interest in supervising your PhD is only provisional, and is not itself sufficient to ensure your acceptance onto the PhD programme.


Your proposal should be up to 3,000 words plus references (Appendices and substantive footnotes do count towards the word limit).

There are many ways of structuring proposals but in one way or another your proposal should cover the following things:

  • what you want to study
  • why it matters
  • how you want to study including (where relevant) theoretical framework, methodology/methods, case selection, dependent and independent variables etc
  • how other people have studied it and how your approach differs.

Please note, in this department we often ask for revisions to the proposal at the application stage.

To apply

To apply for a PhD please visit the King's registration page.

You can also find information on the main King's website regarding fees and funding for postgraduate programmes. 

The main funding scheme is the LISS DTP studentship, find out more here