PhD/MPhil Politics and International Relations

  1. Course Variations
    Nomenclature Duration Mode Of Attendance
    Ph.D. 3Yr FT
    Ph.D. 6Yr PT
    M.Phil. 2Yr FT
    M.Phil. 4Yr PT
  2. Typical offer:
    UK 2.1

Course Overview


The Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS) boasts a dynamic research environment with a committed staff all of whom are research-active. Academic members of staff have a very considerable range of research interests on which we offer supervision for research degrees.

Key Features

A research degree in one of the programmes offered in PCS gives you the chance to pursue a major research project based around your own passions and interests, leading to a qualification which can open the door to an academic career or boost employment prospects outside academia.

You will be supervised closely by two experienced academics in your field. Typically, you will meet your supervisors fortnightly in the first term and at regular intervals thereafter. Meetings are logged and goals agreed each time.

All MPhil and PhD students are required to attend skills and training courses at College and University level. You will also be expected to give presentations to other research students and staff at departmental seminars and present at the postgraduate conference of the College of Arts and Humanities which is held in October. From the second year you may have opportunities to teach undergraduate tutorials and seminars, for which you receive training and payment. The College provides financial support for research students to attend conferences outside of Swansea or conduct research away from Swansea. The maximum amount currently awarded is £600.- (over the duration of your course). 


The choice of research topic is up to you but must be worked out in consultation with your supervisors. It is a good idea to enter into discussions about your research project with the Department's Director of Postgraduate Research, Professor Roland Axtmann (, before drawing up an initial proposal and starting the application process.

However, all good topics develop over the course of your reading and supervisions, and it is likely that you will only slowly gain a clear idea of where you are heading. At the end of your first nine months you present a chapter of about 10,000 words, a synopsis of your thesis, bibliography and table of contents, plus a list of training courses you attended to a progression panel which makes recommendations for your future direction. Thereafter you should expect to work on individual chapters (four or five is a typical number), including an introduction and literature review.

Entry Requirements

MPhil - You should hold or expect to achieve a minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in a related subject. If you hold a qualification from a non-UK institution please see our academic entry requirements for International qualifications (non-EU).

PhD - You should hold a minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, and you should hold or expect to achieve a postgraduate Master’s degree in a related subject. If you hold a qualification from a non-UK institution please see our academic entry requirements for International qualifications (non-EU).

If English is not your first language you will need an acceptable pass in an approved English Language qualification to make sure you get the full benefit from studying at Swansea. We consider a wide range of qualifications, including the Swansea University English Test, the British Council IELTS test (with a score of at least 6.5 and 5.5 in each component). A full list of acceptable English Language tests can be found at:

How To Apply

Apply online and track your application status at

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2017/18 are as follows:

UK/EU International
Ph.D. Full-time £4,200 £14,350
Ph.D. Part-time £2,100 £7,200
M.Phil. Full-time £4,200 £14,350
M.Phil. Part-time £2,100 £7,200

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

Note: The UK/EU fee is indicative pending confirmation from RCUK.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

International students and part-time study: If you require a Tier 4 student visa you must be studying full-time. If you are in the UK under a different visa category, it may be possible for you to study part-time. Please see our part-time study and visas page for more information.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis binding or photocopying costs.

There are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course.

Departmental Research Expertise

At any one time, the department has over forty research students who work together with their supervisors on their projects.  

Staff expertise in the empirical study of Politics lies in the analysis of comparative political institutions; comparative elections; political parties; public sector reform; comparative liberal politics; UK politics; territorial politics; devolution; centre-regional/local relations; public policy; communism and post-communism; democratization; multi-level governance; European integration and European Union politics and policy; genocide; UN and international drugs policy.

In International Relations and Development Studies, the department has expertise in International Security and Strategic Studies; the international politics of space; gender, childhood and child soldiers; North- and South East Asia; West Africa; transitional justice and international crimes; post-war reconstruction; multi-nationals and corporate social responsibility; governance and international development, including aid policy and practice; the role of civil society organisations in development contexts; human rights and international development; history of military thought and military culture; European diplomatic history.

In the field of history of political thought, political philosophy and political theory, there is research expertise in European political thought; democratic theory; political and moral philosophy; Ludwig Wittgenstein; neo-Kantian ethics; human rights; just war theory and international ethics; philosophy of religion; philosophical anthropology; postcolonialism and Orientalism. 

Discover more about the Department of Political and Cultural Studies:


You must submit a thesis of not more than 60,000 words for an MPhil and 100,000 words for a PhD. Your thesis must contribute significantly to the subject area and, in the case of PhD, demonstrate original research. This is followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva) by two examiners who are not your supervisors, one of whom is external to the University. 

The College of Arts and Humanities has made all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information above is accurate and up-to-date when published but can accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Please note that this page should always be read in conjunction with University regulations governing research degrees .