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We are keen to recruit new PhD students who share our desire to learn more about the world around us through rigorous and sustained inquiry. We accept original research proposals so you can choose your own topic of study. 

Our areas of expertise

We undertake research across three research clusters: comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

Members of these clusters employ a wide range of research methods, including empirical techniques and theoretical, historical and critical approaches.

Comparative politics

Our research includes negotiation and lobbying in the EU, voting behaviour, and a particular focus on extremism and the far-right.

Read Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou's story to find out how her research on the rise of the far-right is raising awareness on a global scale.

International relations

Members of this cluster research across a wide range of topics. The four main themes are: 

  • war, conflict, and strategy 
  • international relations theory 
  • international institutions and especially the UN 
  • international political economy. 


The Ways of War Centre is led by members of this cluster. 

Read Professor Dominik Zaum's story to learn about how he has applied his research on state-building to developing policy programmes with the UN and the UK government.

Political theory

We focus on a range of historical and contemporary topics, including Hobbes, equality, and risk.

Our Department has strong links with political theorists and philosophers in other departments across the University. These are formalised through the Reading Ethics and Political Philosophy (REAPP) group, co-convened with the Department of Philosophy.

Read Dr Robert Jubb's story to find out how he's applying political theory and philosophy to issues around public protest in his research.

PhD supervision

When you undertake a PhD with us, you'll be assigned two supervisors, based on your research proposal and whether this aligns with their specialisms.

Our expert academics are leaders in their areas of research, and will work closely with you to ensure your time with us as a PhD student is as rewarding as possible.

Find out more about our staff and the areas of doctoral research they supervise

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Types of doctoral degree

We offer several routes to a doctoral qualification, so you can find the one that suits you and the topic you wish to study.

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Part-time study

Part-time PhDs are available as well as full-time, so you can choose a mode of study that suits your circumstances.

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PhD by Distance

Our PhD by Distance programme allows you to benefit from the expertise of a Reading-based supervisor, while conducting your research in a different location.