Doctoral research degrees

A research degree is a unique opportunity to develop new skills, develop problem-solving abilities and make a valuable contribution to new knowledge.

Completing a research degree develops specialist knowledge in your field and professional skills for a range of business settings. Whether you're interested in a career in academia or in the private or government spheres, you will be equipped with valuable skills that will make you competitive, no matter your chosen career path.

With three constituent departments, International Development (IDD), Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) and Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), the School of Government has expertise to supervise PhD projects in a variety of fields, including resource management, corruption, development planning, governance and public policy, public and performance management, overview and scrutiny of local authorities, public service reform, community engagement and participation, political economy, political theory, British politics, international relations, international security, global governance and area studies. Find out more about the research interests of specific staff. In addition to the departments, the School also hosts several key institutes and centres renowned for their excellence in research and scholarship, these include the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS), the Institute for German and European Studies (IGES) and the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (CREES).

Equality and Diversity

In the School of Government, we are committed to creating a caring, accessible and inclusive environment in which everyone feels they belong, fit, and may thrive. We welcome, value, and embrace diversity in our staff and student body, such as differences in nationality, cultural backgrounds, race, ethnicity, disability, age, class, religion or belief, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. 

We aim to embed this commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in our teaching and learning practices, our tutorials, our extensive module choices, our curriculum, student representatives and groups, welfare services, research, and the wide range of events and seminars organised. The School of Government will not tolerate any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination.

The University of Birmingham currently holds a Bronze Athena SWAN Charter Award. Its Equality Scheme ‘Advancing Equality, Valuing Diversity’ document sets out the equality objectives and actions for 2016-20. The latest Equality and Diversity Annual Report (2020) details work undertaken over the last year to meet our equality objectives.

Research degrees PhD/MPhil:

Doctorate (PhD): The period of registration is 36 months (72 months part-time). The maximum length of the thesis is 80,000 words.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil): Participants register for advanced study over 24 months (48 months part-time) and submit a thesis within 6 months (12 months part-time) of the end of the registration period. The maximum length is 60,000 words. 

PhD with Integrated Study

This enables students to take additional taught modules. It is particularly suited to candidates who have already completed taught programmes at Masters level, but who wish to change direction and / or undertake research in an area in which they do not have sufficient prior knowledge. The programme lasts for four years and requires a thesis of 80,000 words.

While the traditional PhD programme requires students to engage entirely in research training, culminating in the production of a thesis, the PhD with Integrated Study enables students to gain added value from taught, subject-based modules.

PhD by Distance Learning

Our distance learning MPhil and PhD degrees offer the opportunity to pursue original research under the guidance of an academic supervisor in a more convenient manner for those unable to live and work on campus on a regular basis.  Applications to study for research degrees on a part-time basis are welcomed.

Further information

Tricia Thomas - Doctoral Research Student Administraton
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 3497, Email: