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Defence Studies Research MPhil/PhD

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The Defence Studies Department’s unique position as an academic department based at the Defence Academy heavily influences its research. Sitting at the heart of security and defence education in the United Kingdom, it is able to draw on the experiences and knowledge of not only UK military officers, but officers from a wide range of allied nations. The Department’s research is therefore able to benefit from and influence defence thinking and policymaking not just in the UK, but across the world.

Research in the Department is reflective of the diverse interests of our staff members and postgraduate students. It covers military, naval, diplomatic and imperial history, international relations, defence and regional security policy studies, strategic studies, and the ethics of conflict. This wide range of topics is united by their relation and relevance to contemporary security and defence issues. Researchers from the Department have played an important role in past UK security and defence reviews and continue to influence future reviews. Staff members are regularly consulted by national and international media on contemporary and past events, and they are actively engaged in public engagement with the heritage sector. Research projects in the Department has been supported by a variety of funding bodies, including the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the MacArthur Foundation, the British Council, the European Commission, the US Army War College, the UK Ministry of Defence, and the US Department of Defense.

Since 2011, the Department has run its own postgraduate research programme. We attract studentships from a variety of sources, including the ESRC and the AHRC. We also offer studentships funded directly by the Department. Nearly 120 students are currently undertaking doctoral research. Every year, 40 students join the programme. The Department is especially interested in receiving applications from students planning research projects in fields that enhance the strength of the Department’s research themes and groups, and enriching its broader research culture.


Key information

Duration MPhil two years full-time (four years part-time); PhD three years full-time (six years part-time) with an additional writing-up year if necessary.

Study mode Distance Learning, Full-time, Part-time

Further details

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

Department Defence Studies Department



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Course detail


Defence Studies Research MPhil/PhD candidates join a thriving interdisciplinary research community, connecting with world-leading scholars and practitioners. Postgraduate students are allocated a supervisor from within the Defence Studies Department and a second supervisor either from the Department or elsewhere in the College. The Department has a close relationship with War Studies, often working closely in MPhil/PhD supervision. For a full staff list and their research interests please access the War Studies website at www.kcl.ac.uk/warstudies

During the first year of study it is College policy that both full and part time students will have their progress reviewed within 3 months of initial registration and again after a period of nine months registration. Thereafter, the progress of all students will be reviewed at every six months. A comprehensive programme of individual research training is offered to ensure that students develop the skills necessary to complete their research programme and fulfil their career goals.

Students receive support from their supervisors in the following areas relating to their research programme:

  • Structure & Planning
  • Direction & Training
  • Monitoring
  • Advice & Guidance
  • Support & Encouragement
  • Pastoral Responsibility
  • Future career guidance

Information is current, but staff members can change.

Course study environment

MPhil/PhD students are allocated a primary and secondary supervisor. Students have access to workspaces with computers and printers, either located in the Department of War Studies on the Strand Campus or at the Library at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, subject to security clearance. Students are encouraged to take part in the lively research culture of the Defence Studies Department, attending research seminars, student-organised research workshops, or the regular seminars, visiting lectures, and conferences that are held either in London or at the JSCSC in Shrivenham. They are also expected to participate in one or more of the School of Security Studies’ research themes and groups which organise their own programmes of events. Find out about SoSS research themes.

Postgraduate training

Students will have their training and development needs assessed and will, with their supervisor, draw up a personalised programme of training that will both allow them to complete their research project and also provide the skills they will need in their subsequent career. Ongoing research training needs are assessed throughout the programme. This training will include courses provided by the Department, the School of Security Studies, the Centre for Doctoral Studies, or the LISS-DTP.

Head of group/division

Dr Christian Tripodi

Contact for information

Dr Aimée Fox, Admissions Tutor | Tel +44(0)1793 788064
Dr Christian Tripodi, PhD Programme Director | Tel +44 (0)1793 788023

Contact email

Course website

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Defence Studies Research Entry Requirements
Minimum requirements  
  • Master's degree with high merit, and a 2:1 honours degree at the bachelor's level. It is highly desirable (but not essential) to have taken courses in this field at postgraduate level before undertaking research work in the Defence Studies Department.

  • Extensive practical experience in a relevant field (eg military, diplomatic, humanitarian or developmental) may be taken into account when evaluating an application.

International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band B Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Application procedure

The normal entry requirement for the MPhil/PhD programme is a master’s degree with a distinction or high merit (or overseas equivalent), and/or a first or 2.1 honours degree at the Bachelors level (or overseas equivalent). It is not essential to have taken courses in this field at postgraduate level, but we advise students to consider taking one of our MA's or a similar course elsewhere before undertaking research work in the Defence Studies Department.
Extensive practical experience in the relevant field (e.g. military, diplomatic, journalistic, humanitarian or developmental) may be taken into account when evaluating an application. Applicants will need to find a potential supervisor before applying. Applications are subject to a formal interview (in person or online).

To apply for most of our postgraduate programmes at King's you will need to complete our postgraduate online application form. A minority of programmes have a different application procedure which will be outlined below. Applying online makes applying easier and quicker for you, and means we can receive your application faster and more securely.
King's does not normally accept paper copies of the postgraduate application form as applications must be made online. However, if you are unable to access the online postgraduate application form, please contact the relevant admissions/School Office at King's for advice.

If you have already applied to King's through our online application form you can check the status of your application by logging into myApplication.

If you are interested in pursuing postgraduate research in the Defence Studies Department, you should look at the staff profiles in the ‘DSD People’ section of our website to identify a potential supervisor with research interests in a similar area. Ideally, you should contact them to discuss your proposal before making an official application through the King’s online application system.

Once the application material is received, your application will be considered by a panel of academic tutors. Some applicants may be interviewed, either in person, or by telephone/Skype.

Personal statement and supporting information

Please include the name of your proposed supervisor at King's. To identify a supervisor please see: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Defence Studies Research checklist
Personal Statement Yes

A personal statement is required. This can be entered directly into the online application form (maximum 4,000 characters) or uploaded as an attachment to the online application form (maximum 2 pages).

Research Proposal Yes

The proposal should explain in some detail precisely the field of study that you want to contribute to and current research gaps, what you want to do and how you propose to do it. For advice on how to write a winning application, please visit the following page.

It is compulsory that all applications include a research proposal. Applications that are received without one will be rejected. The potential student should produce the proposal with the help of their potential supervisor. The proposal should be no longer than 6 pages of A4 and size 12 font. The proposal should include an introduction to the research topic, the research question the student wants to answer, brief details on what methods/theories the research will used to answer the question, and a short literature review.

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
Writing Sample Yes A sample of your previous writing (this would usually be an extended piece of writing such as a dissertation/thesis from masters or undergraduate study, or perhaps a research paper if you have been involved in more recent research and you are the sole author. The writing sample should be in English.
Other Optional You may wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of your application.


Course intake

Approximately 12 per year.

Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible as we may need to request further information from you to assess your application. This is also important if your application is successful and you are required to meet any offer condition, and/or you need a Student Visa to study here at King's.

The final application deadlines are detailed below; on these dates, the programme will close at 23:59 (UK time) and we will open for the corresponding intake in 2023 soon after the same intake has passed in 2022.

  • February 2022 entry – 12 November 2021 for Overseas fee status and 6 December 2021 for Home fee status

  • October 2022 entry – 29 July 2022 for Overseas fee status and 26 August 2022 for Home fee status

  • February 2023 entry – 21 October 2022 for Overseas fee status and 22 November 2022 for Home fee status

Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier than the application deadlines listed above.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

International Foundation

Fees and funding

UK Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees:

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,910 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£2,910 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

International Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees:

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

Part time tuition fees:

£10,935 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£10,935 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

UK Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees:

£6,120 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£6,120 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

Part time tuition fees:

£3,060 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£3,060 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

International Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees:

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

Part time tuition fees:

£11,490 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies)

£11,490 per year (MPhil/PhD, Defence Studies via Distance Learning)

EU Students starting their programme in the academic year 2021/22 will pay international tuition fees.

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King's terms and conditions.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.


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