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Leadership Studies with reference to Security & Development PhD, or option of joint PhD with University of Pretoria.

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Leadership plays a significant role in both development and security processes and outcomes. The Leadership Studies with reference to Security & Development PhD offers the opportunity to delve into the interaction between the leadership and security-development nexus, with a focus on developing countries. 

This programme, through the African Leadership Centre, provides the academic space, support and training to interrogate leadership, security and development, particularly at the conceptual level. Students can draw on academic expertise in a range of disciplines, and supervision may be provided from within the African Leadership Centre or jointly with other faculty within King's. 

Graduates are well-suited for academic employment, in addition to private sector consulting organisations, NGOs and government employment in the UK, Africa and internationally.

For the Joint PhD in Leadership and Security Studies with the University of Pretoria all the relevant information can be found here.

Information is current, but staff members can change.

Key information

Duration 3-4 years f/t or 6-7 years p/t

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Further details

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

Department African Leadership Centre



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Course detail


The Leadership Studies with reference to Security & Development is delivered through the African Leadership Centre (ALC). Below is a snapshot of our research and partnerships:

Recent publications

• Security Sector Transformation in Africa
• Mugabe and the Politics of Security in Zimbabwe
• Women, Peace and Security: Translating Policy into Practice
• Deep History and International Security: Social Conditions and Competition, Militancy and Violence in West Africa
• The Development Planning Era and Developmental Statehood: The Pursuit of Structural Transformation in Nigeria
• Islamic Radicalization and Political Violence in Nigeria
• The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission: Problems and Prospects??
• Security in Post-Civil War Democratic Transitions in Africa
• Natural Resource Management and Human Security in Africa
• BRICS and African International Organisations

Current research areas and topics:

• Leadership and peacebuilding: conceptual relationships and the role of outliers
• The political economy of peacebuilding in Africa
• Reframing narratives of peace and statebuilding in Africa: The role of political settlements [case studies: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Sierra Leone]
• China’s Role in African Development: transforming development lessons into development catalysts
• The practice of leadership: analysing practitioners’ reflections on peacebuilding – action research project with leading peacemakers in African conflicts
• Leadership and security in Nigeria
• Resilience innovation: studying resilience to violence and insecurity in Africa

Partner organisations:
The ALC has a longstanding partnership with the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya. The institute has partnered with the Social Science Research Council of New York, University of Pretoria South Africa and the University of Yaounde, Cameroon.

The ALC also has long-term collaborations with:

• African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town
• African Security Sector Network (ASSN)
• African Women's Development Fund
• African Union
• Carnegie Corporation of New York 
• Centre for Policy Research and Dialogue in Ethiopia
• Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
• East African Community (EAC)
• Geneva Centre for Security Policy
• International Institute for Strategic Studies
• International Peace Institute, New York
• Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
• Open Society Institute, New York,
• Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA)
• Southern African Development Community (SADC)
• United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations

Course study environment

The ALC is at the forefront of leadership, security and development research. Our scholars are engaged in active and dynamic research and gain access to an authentic end-user community. They have the opportunity to interact with academics, practitioners and policy makers within our vibrant network. In addition to the PhD programme, the ALC offers a Leadership & Development MSc and Security, Leadership & Society MSc. 

Postgraduate training

Our scholars have access to the following:

  • Regular seminar events
  • Regular methodology seminars
  • Oppportunities to audit relevant MA modules at the ALC and across King's
  • Opportunities to take dedicated doctoral training courses run by the KISS-DTC

Head of group/division

 Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin


Contact for information

For the Leadership Studies with reference to Security & Development PhD, contact:

Professor Abiodun Alao, PhD Admissions Tutor
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 1984

For the Joint PhD option with University of Pretoria, contact:

Dr Eka Ikpe, Academic Lead for Joint PhD
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 1984

Contact email

Course website

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Document checklist
Minimum requirements      A master's degree (or international equivalent) is usually required. In exceptional circumstances only a bachelor's degree with 1st class or high 2:1 honours (or international equivalent) is accepted.
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 heart of your application is your research proposal. This proposal should be a document of no more than 4-5 pages. Applicants should also submit a personal statement outlining their reasons for pursuing further research.

We encourage you to contact the African Leadership Centre with a draft research proposal before submitting a complete application through the online system. Find out more about our research interests and ensure your research topic falls within one of these areas. Our research interests include:

Professor Funmi Olonisakin:
• Discourses on the 'edge' of global security
• Transnational security complexes
• Gender and security
• The leadership role of regional organisations and the United Nations in sustaining peace
• Reframing narratives of peace and state building in Africa

Professor Abiodun Alao:
• Emerging powers and global leadership
• The politics of natural resources management
• Religious radicalisation and political violence
• Politics, security and international relations in Africa

Dr Eka Ikpe:
• Developmental states
• Development planning
• Agriculture, mineral resources and industrialisation in development processes
• Regionalism and economic development
• The United Nations/ regional organisations and peacebuilding
• Women, peace and security
• Security sector governance, reform and transformation

Dr Olaf Bachmann:
• African standby force
• Civil–military relations in francophone Africa
• The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)
• State-building in Central Africa

Joint PhD: application advice

Applicants for the Joint PhD programme must contact the relevant departments at both universities before submitting an application in order to discuss the suitability of their topic for the joint programme and to locate potential supervisors. Applications should initially be submitted to the proposed home institution only (i.e. where the student will start and finish their programme). Students should note that acceptance into the programme may take slightly longer than for single-institution PhDs because of the additional steps involved. Further details, including FAQs, can be found on the King’s Worldwide web pages.

Applicants who choose King’s as their home institution should apply through the online system, selecting the appropriate joint PhD option from the drop-down list. In addition to the standard supporting documentation, applicants should submit a Travel Plan form indicating how they intend to divide their time between the two partner institutions. Students must spend a specified amount of time in each institution, details of which can be found in the ‘Notes’ section of the Travel Plan form.

It is recommended that students submit applications for the Joint PhD programme by the end of March to begin the following September.

Personal statement and supporting information

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).

Joint PhDs - Application advice

There is also the opportunity to undertake a joint PhD in Leadership and Security Studies with the University of Pretoria. This programme is awarded jointly by King’s College London and the University of Pretoria, and brings together expertise from both institutions in Leadership and Security studies to offer students a rich international research educational experience.

There is a current 'Call for Expressions of Interest' with deadline 23:59 (GMT) 31 July 2019. All relevant information can be found here

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

Part time tuition fees: £2,910 per year

International Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees: £21,870 per year

Part time tuition fees: £10,935 per year

UK Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees: £6,120 per year

Part time tuition fees: £3,060 per year

International Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees: £22,980 per year

Part time tuition fees: £11,490 per year

For those undertaking the joint PhD with Pretoria option, if selected your home institution at King's College London, the above full-time fee arrangements remain the same throughout the course of the programme. Please note that the part-time option is not available for the joint PhD, it is a full-time only programme.

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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Next steps

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Learn more about postgraduate degree programmes at King's.

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