The PhD is the most advanced research degree. It leads to a thesis of up to 80,000 words under the expert guidance of a supervisory committee.
PhD by Papers
As an alternative to the standard dissertation, we now also offer you the choice of writing a thesis which consists of three or four self-standing academic articles on different aspects of a single topic. Birmingham is one of the first philosophy departments in the UK to offer you this option of a “PhD by Papers”.
Rather than writing a single book-like thesis examining a single topic, you may instead write a thesis comprising three or four separate (though thematically unified) papers, in the style of philosophy journal articles. Although this style of PhD thesis is very popular at top US departments, and offers many advantages for students, it is rare in the UK. The advantages of this option include:
- Ideas don’t always come in book-shaped packages. Our PhD by Papers format recognises that, allowing you greater scope to follow your interests.
- If you would like to become an academic philosopher, you will need to publish in philosophical journals, preferably before finishing your PhD. Our PhD by Papers means your work towards publishable papers is always work towards the PhD thesis, improving your academic job prospects along the way.
The PhD by Papers format is an option for all Birmingham Philosophy PhD students, not a separate course of study. So if you are interested in this, simply apply as normal for the Philosophy PhD programme.
Additional information on both formats
You will be assigned a lead supervisor from our full-time staff and one or more co-supervisors drawn from our entire staff.
You can study PhD programmes in Philosophy on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, there is a compulsory annual visit to campus (every two years for part-time PhD students) - see our distance learning webpage which includes frequently asked questions about distance learning to find out more.
All PhD candidates are provided with regular meetings with the members of their supervisory committee. The principal role of these meetings is to guide candidates through the process of conceiving, researching and writing their dissertations. In addition, the departmental Director of Research Students will function as an academic advisor, providing general academic assistance and guidance.
You are also encouraged to attend our weekly Postgraduate Research Seminar and the regular meetings of the Department's Philosophy Society, and Staff Work-in-Progress Seminar. We also encourage you to apply for funds to attend and participate in graduate conferences.
If you are interested in our postgraduate research programmes in Philosophy, please have a look at our research areas and contact the departmental Director of Research Admissions, Dr Maja Spener for advice on formulating your research proposal.
At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.