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PhD Research


We are the only dedicated Department of Political Economy in the UK, with a large faculty of over 70 staff who research and teach at the intersections of politics, economics and philosophy. We welcome Postgraduate Research students interested in undertaking doctoral research in our unique interdisciplinary environment. Within our programmes students have the opportunity to study both theoretical and empirical topics, using a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research methods.

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.

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

The Department of Political Economy offers four PhD programmes:

Qualification(s): MPhil  PhD 
Duration: MPhil: two years full-time, three years part-time. PhD: three years full-time, four to six years part-time. Research degree registration may begin in September or January.

MPhil or PhD Political Economy Research in the Department with Political Economy, with the option of a join PhD with NUS, at King's College London.

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Qualification(s): MPhil  PhD 
Duration: MPhil: two years full-time, three years part-time. PhD: three years full-time, four to six years part-time. Research degree registration may begin in September or January.

MPhil/PhD Contemporary History at King's College London.

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Qualification(s): MPhil  PhD 
Duration: MPhil: 2 years full-time/3 years part-time. PhD: 3 years full-time/4-6 years part-time. Research degree registration may begin in September or January.

MPhil/PhD in Politics Research in Department of Political Economy at King's College London.

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Qualification(s): MPhil  PhD 
Duration: MPhil two years FT, three years PT, PhD three years FT, four to six years PT.

MPhil/PhD Public Policy Research at King's College London.

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How to apply

Step 1: Identify Supervisor(s) 

Before applying for a PhD with the Department of Political Economy, you will need to consider potential supervisors for your project, since all PhD students 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 can also examine this list of supervisors who are interested to supervise new PhD students and the areas (and methods) of preferred supervision.

You might also 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 ten main research groups within the department:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Political Economy of Peace and Security for those interested in the dynamics of armed conflict, political violence, and peace and development;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Environment and Public Policy for those interested in on environmental issues and the energy transition.
  • History and Political Economy for those who use the interpretative methods of political economy to conduct historical enquiry, and/or work on historical material to investigate political economy questions
  • 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. 

Step 2: Contact Potential Supervisor(s) 

It is important to contact a prospective primary supervisor(s) prior to making an application to King’s, to see if they are available and interested in supervising your proposed research. In general, supervisors will want to see your CV and a draft of your research proposal (see below) to help them decide if they are a good fit for your proposed research. 

You do not need to secure a secondary supervisor’s support prior to making an application to King's, but you should explicitly nominate one or more potential primary/secondary supervisors in your application (there is a space on the application form for this, and you can also list them in your research proposal). You can contact prospective secondary supervisors in advance if you wish.

Most of our PhD students have both their primary and secondary supervisor based within the Department of Political Economy. However, it is possible for one of the two supervisors to be based in another department at King’s College London.

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

Step 3: Finalise Proposal and Other Application Materials 

You can begin by creating an account and application on the King's Apply registration page. Your application will need to include the following items. 

  1. A research proposal of up to 3,000 words, which does not include references/bibliography (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: 
    a)what you want to study;
    b) why it matters;
    c)how you want to study including (where relevant) theoretical framework, methodology/methods, case selection, dependent and independent variables etc; 
    d) 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.

  2. A personal statement of up to 1,000 words: This should explain your motivation for undertaking the PhD, and specify how you see it fitting into your broader life and career plans. You should also explain why the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London is the right place to conduct your proposed research.
  3. Two supportive references: These should ideally both be academic, with at least one from a scholar who taught you on your Master's (your referees will be contacted by King's and asked to submit a reference electronically).
  4. One or two samples of your written work: We would generally expect these to total between 5,000 and 10,000 words (e.g. two 2,500 word essays or one 10,000 word Masters dissertation would both be appropriate submissions of written work). You do not have to submit the original form of these samples of work (for example, if you submit an assessed essay from your Master’s degree, you could edit it further prior to including it on your application). These samples must be entirely your own work.
  5. An up-to-date CV/resume: This should normally be no more than three pages, and include clear information on your educational qualifications and employment history.
  6. 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). 

Make sure to also nominate your intended primary supervisor as part of the application form, and list any other potential supervisors, or staff you wish to work with, as part of your Research Proposal. 

Step 4: Submit 

Once your application form on the King's Apply registration page is complete, and all the required documents listed above attached, you can submit your application.

Our student community

We have a vibrant community of students drawn from many different countries. Recent graduates have gone on to postdoctoral positions at New York University, Brown University, the European University Institute, and the University of Birmingham; and to teaching positions at the University of Buckingham, Utica College (USA) and here at King’s College London.


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