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1. Is a PhD at the University of Reading right for you? 

Before applying for our PhD programme, please read our What to expect during your PhD guide.

2. Consider your topic

As you develop ideas and directions for a research project you'd like to embark on, you’ll need to determine whether the project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must be feasible within the resources and time frame available to you.

It should address a perceived "gap" in the literature. And, most importantly, it should be of interest to you.  

Visit the Developing a PhD page for more information on our areas of expertise.

3. Get in touch with the Department

While it is not essential to communicate directly with our Department before submitting your application, many candidates find it helpful.

If you are interested in joining us, please look at our staff profile pages to help you identify a potential supervisor. Feel free to contact them directly to discuss your ideas for research topics.

You can also contact our Director of Postgraduate Research Studies, Professor Alan Cromartie by emailing He can give further advice about entry requirements and the application process.

We also encourage you to review the Doctoral and Researcher College's guidance on how to write a research proposal.

4. Check entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programme, you will need a Bachelor's degree of at least 2:1 level (or equivalent), or a master's degree, in a subject related to your proposed PhD research topic. 

If you are from outside the UK, you will also need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency with written and spoken English. 

For more information on entry requirements, visit our Doctoral and Researcher College website.

5. Make an application

Please apply using the PhD and professional doctorate online application system. This allows you to complete the necessary information and attach copies of relevant documents, including the details of two appropriate referees. Although you will be working with a specific Department and supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally. 

The University will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to our Department. 

Most new students join the PhD programme in September. However, it is possible to start your studies at any point during the academic year.

Why study with us?

97% of our research outputs are rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, meaning that the University of Reading is 6th highest in the UK for research outputs (Times Higher Education analysis of the latest Research Excellence Framework 2021 – Politics and International Studies, when scoring by GPA Output).


Our research

Our groundbreaking work on global organisations such as the United Nations sits alongside research into international political economy, intergenerational justice and equality. 

Life in the Department

When you choose to undertake a PhD with us, you will join a supportive academic community. You will have opportunities to attend departmental seminars, present your work and network with other researchers.