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PhD Studies

Frequently asked questions

Below is a selection of frequent questions about studying for a PhD in the Department of Political Economy.

Can I take a PhD part-time?

Yes, many students prefer to study part-time. 

Can I do a PhD off-campus, by distance-learning?

Distance learning is not impossible but is discouraged and would need to have a strong justification. Being part of a research community of other PhD students and faculty researchers is a core part of what a PhD offers, which generally cannot be achieved through distance learning. In addition, you are expected to undertake training while pursuing your PhD at the Doctoral Training Centre, which is not available through distance learning. Please note also that even if we agree to an off-campus study arrangement, we may require you to come to King's at various points of the programme.

Do you have deadlines for entry?

While we accept students all year round, we encourage you to apply as early as possible as PhD applications can take some time to process.

What is the difference between PhD programmes:
Political Economy, Politics, and Public Policy?

Choose the title that is most closely related to your work or your future career plans. The content is actually interchangeable. It is possible to change your PhD title after you have begun your studies.

I want to do a PhD but don’t know what I want to do it on.
Can you help me find a topic?

You will need to decide on the topic yourself and approach us with an initial proposal. However, we are able to help you refine your proposal after the application stage.

Is there funding available for PhD students?

Limited funding is available from King's but is handled by the University and not specifically by our Department. For more information see the university's section on postgraduate funding.

What are the deadlines for the funding competitions?

Details are available in the postgraduate funding pages.

If you are applying for university funding it is strongly in your interest to have your proposal read and commented on by your prospective supervisor well before you apply, so that you can improve the proposal further before applying. The later you send it, the less time you’ll have to make changes. Depending on how advanced your proposal is, you should probably aim to send it to a prospective supervisor by December or early January.

Please note that it is your responsibility to submit your full application (including references) on time. Please ask your referees well in advance.

What is the difference between the funding competition
and the PhD place competition?

The two processes are separate but you are not eligible for funding if you do not have a PhD place so the Department will first decide whether to offer you a place. You may still apply for both simultaneously.

You may need to submit separate forms and research proposals for some funding competitions.

If you have already been offered a PhD place and later wish to apply for the ESRC/DTC or AHRC funding competitions, please do talk about this with your prospective supervisors and/or with the PhD Director in case you can improve your proposal further for the funding competition.

Who makes decisions on funding?

Each funding competition within the University is decided in different ways by different people. The department’s main role is usually to help you make the best case for yourself by helping you to refine your proposal.

Who makes decisions on applications?

The Centre for Arts and Sciences Admission (CASA) makes an initial assessment. We then examine applications going through a thorough process overseen by the PhD Director, aimed at selecting only the best candidates. If you are interviewed, no decision can be made straight away, a collective decision will be made after the interview. The Department’s recommendation is then passed to the Centre for Doctoral Studies.

What are the fees?

All the information on programme fees can be found on the Admissions Office page.

Why must I apply for something called an ‘MPhil/PhD’?
What is the difference between the MPhil and the PhD?

Most UK universities now require you to register as an MPhil student and then ‘upgrade’ to the PhD after a year or so, if you have reached the appropriate level. However, even before the upgrade you can feel free to refer to yourself as a PhD student e.g. on your email signature.

Some people only want to apply for an MPhil, which is one to two years of full-time work (or part-time equivalent), with a shorter thesis than for a PhD. If you are applying for an MPhil only, not a PhD, you should make this explicit on your personal statement and your research proposal.

What training will I get?

We currently offer three main sources of training:

  • the Department runs professional sessions (e.g. publication strategy, academic job application tactics);
  • the Doctoral Training Centre runs basic courses (e.g. statistics, qualitative methods, literature review), and over 70 advanced courses (e.g. case study methodology; Foucault and genealogy; time series analysis);
  • the Researcher Development Programme runs a huge range of intermediate courses (e.g. time management, presentation skills).

And of course, your regular meetings with your supervisors are an excellent source of training.

You may also attend some MA courses in the Department as well as other departments.

Further Information

If you have a question regarding PhDs which is not answered here, please email the department's PhD Director, Dr James Scott.

Please note that for any queries regarding programme fees or postgraduate funding, visit the King's Fees & Funding page.

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