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Postgraduate Research Degrees

Postgraduate Studentships and Bursaries  

The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy welcomes enquiries from students who wish to continue their studies in these subjects with a view to obtaining a higher degree. A graduate may pursue research, on a full-time or part-time basis, and submit a thesis for the degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy has more postgraduate research students than any other Humanities or Social Sciences subject at Queen's. In recent years many new members of staff have been appointed, substantially increasing the range of research supervision available within the School. All members of staff are qualified to supervise research students. Currently, there are research students dealing with topics on Irish and British history and politics, international relations, European integration, gender, political theory and popular culture, electoral systems and parties, comparative ethnic conflict, the Middle East, and many other areas.

A friendly and supportive atmosphere exists among the postgraduates in Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. Each student is given a primary and a secondary supervisor and is encouraged to consult the members of staff working in his/her area of research. Every year the School runs a series of public lectures with many prominent speakers from academia and practical politics. There also exists a lively postgraduate research seminar series.

For questions regarding the application procedure, please contact the Postgraduate Secretary Caroline McNeill who will be pleased to advise you on the procedure for submitting applications. For further information, see the University admissions information website .

The school has expertise in a number of areas including Governance and Public Policy, International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Contemporary Irish History, Political Theory and Philosophy. You are STRONGLY encouraged to familiarize yourself with staff members working in your area of interest in advance of submitting a proposal.

Access to the research interests and supervisory areas of the School’s members of staff can be accessed  here

Postgraduate Research

The normal entry requirement consists of the following:

  • The school normally requires applicants for research degrees to have successfully completed a taught postgraduate degree (MA) in Politics, International Studies, European Studies, Philosophy or a cognate subject area, before proceeding to either MPhil or PhD, although candidates having demonstrated exceptional achievement at undergraduate level may be considered. 
  • Good references indicating that the candidate has the academic ability to undertake doctoral research.
  • A viable proposal as determined by the advice of independent assessors in the School. (Viable here pertains to the scope of the project, its originality, and its potential to be completed within the relevant time limit for full-time or part-time students respectively.)
  • Above all, prospective applicants’ ability to conduct postgraduate research successfully will be evaluated on the basis of the detailed Research proposal submitted with the application form.  The School requires a detailed research proposal (1500 - 2000 words) which will outline the research topic, the methodology, the theoretical context within which the research will be carried out (if appropriate), and an indicative bibliography. Please note that this is a particularly important part of your application, and will decisively influence the decision about your admission.  If you have consulted with any members of staff within the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, please mention this in your proposal outline as well. 
  • Where appropriate, an application needs an IELTS score of 6.5 (candidates must be fully proficient in written and spoken English) and a CGPA of 3.3 or above to be considered.
  • Availability and suitably qualified staff to supervise the research project (i.e. at least one specialist in the chosen field). In the absence of such staff the application will be rejected.

For questions regarding the application procedure, please contact the Postgraduate Secretary, Caroline McNeill who will be pleased to advise you on the procedure for submitting applications.

To apply for any of our postgraduate courses, you should submit an online application.

Postgraduate Research Studentships – 2014 Entry

The School has a number of opportunities for PhD funding for the upcoming academic year:

  • DEL FUNDING: The School will be offering three DEL awards for PhD study. Students who are UK residents will be eligible for the full award, whereas EU students will be eligible for fees only. These studentships will be awarded to the best candidates in any area of research in Politics, International Studies or Philosophy, broadly defined.  Deadline for DEL applications is Monday 17th February 2014.   Further information can be found here
  • STRATEGIC DEL AWARDS: The School will be offering three strategic DEL awards for PhD study on specific projects. The supervisory team of these projects is already in place, and students will be supervised by experts in more than one School. As with the general DEL awards, Students who are UK residents will be eligible for the full award, whereas EU students will be eligible for fees only. The three PhD projects available for funding in the upcoming year are:

  1. Anglo American Libertarianism: A Response to the Challenges of the Twenty First Century?   
    (Andrew Baker / Graham Brownlow) 

    In both the United States and the United Kingdom, the libertarian movement has become a leading challenger to mainstream political parties, but also has a significant presence within the traditional centre right in both countries. Libertarianism has significant implications for foreign policy, the role and form of the state, and has a particular vision of the determinants of economic performance and political life. This studentship will fund a project that looks at the evolution of libertarian political and economic philosophies and ideals, in the United Kingdom and/or the United States, including their usage in the formulation of public policy prescriptions by a range of organizations and actors. The funded project will seek to further understanding of the contemporary libertarian movement, asking to what extent these ideas respond to the challenges of the 21st century focusing on the libertarian movement’s: philosophical and intellectual foundations and evolution; its organization; and strategy and objectives; examining the relationship and tensions between all three. The project will look at and assess the contribution of libertarian ideas and their articulation, across a range of possible policy areas including: humanitarian and military intervention; economic and financial governance; and climate change. The PhD project will provide an assessment of libertarian political and economic ideas and their contribution to public debate and public policy in at least one of the areas listed above. 

  2. Governing Dissent: Protest and Politics at the Olympic Games, Rio 2016   
    (Debbie Lisle Lisle/John Karamichas) 

    Building on the existing research strengths at QUB, this project examines the political contestations that emerge during the Olympic Games. Bulley and Lisle (2012; 2013) have written about the contradiction between the offer of hospitality generated by Olympic Host Cities and the practices of governmentality that seek to order hosts and guests differently; and Karamichas (2012; 2013) has explored the relationship between environmental politics, resistance and the Olympic Games. Building on this shared expertise, this research broadens our understanding of conflict by exploring 3 interrelated tensions that arise during Olympic Games: (i) Neo-Liberal pressures for global cities to stage mega-events as a way to attract tourism, financial capital and business;  (ii) the forces of security, governance and social sorting required to manage the influx of visitors to a city during the Olympics (e.g. competing pressures of security, sustainability and efficiency); and (iii) moments of dissent, protest and resistance that oppose the Neo-Liberal project in general as well as the invasive forms of social control and disregard for the environment it enacts during the Olympic Games. The case of Rio presents a provocative opportunity to explore these tensions in an emerging BRIC power in the Global South, and we are especially keen to strengthen our established links with the three universities in Rio and take advantage of the Santander PhD mobility scholarships.

  3. Science, Safety and Sufficiency in the Global Politics of Food Security   
    (Mike Bourne/ Katrina Campbell) 

    Global food security is defined in universalist and human security terms, as all people at all times having “Physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” However, experiences of food in/security are highly variable and occur within a complex range of political, economic and social contexts such as the effects of conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding, or the economic practices that encourage high quality food to be exported and contaminated food left for local populations. It is not clear which dimensions of food security are prioritised and how these dimensions may conflict (Safety vs sufficiency; preferences vs dietary needs; North vs South; differing concepts of active and healthy life). This PhD will explore this through the role of different forms of expertise (e.g. scientific expertise on food safety and contamination or economic expertise on development) and technology in shaping the realisation and limits of food security. It will address questions of how expertise and technological solutions are enrolled in the different political claims and practices of food security and explore how food security practices enact some forms of food in/security and safety rather than others. In particular it will look at how global (CODEX) and regional (e.g. EU) food safety standards are developed and implemented and how food security reinforces or hybridises existing spatialities of security (e.g. national food security; supply chains as a spatiality of security; and the geopolitics of post-conflict peacebuilding and development). 

In addition, the School will offer the opportunity for one International or EU student to work on the following project:

Debating the “Northern Ireland Model”: Lessons from and for other Conflict Regions
(Peter McLoughlin/Katy Hayward)

The project would critically engage the idea of the “Northern Ireland Model” – the notion that the experience of peace-making here can provide “lessons” for other divided societies and conflict regions. In particular, it would counter the arguable devaluation of this notion in recent years by an oversimplified rendering of the “model” in lazy journalism and a raft of memoirs from senior political actors involved in the peace process. Instead of reducing the idea of learning from the Northern Ireland experience to one of simple transplantation, it would allow a high-calibre student to explore critically the insightful lessons (negative as a well as positive) that might be gained by analysing peace-making here in relation to other divided regions.

Apart from requiring the student to use appropriately rigorous comparative methodologies, the project would be open to a range of different angles of investigation or cases against which to compare the Northern Ireland experience. Thus, a student might propose to explore the lessons which the successful transformation of policing – arguably an understated and crucial element of the Northern Ireland peace process – has for other post-conflict societies, or alternatively the ways in which Northern Ireland could learn from how other regions (e.g. South Africa, Latin America) have dealt with their contested past – an enormous challenge we still have to face. Having a relatively open agenda for the research project will allow for a range of applicants from the broad field of peace/conflict studies, thus allowing choice of the very best to come to Queen’s. 

Students wishing to apply for any of the Strategic DEL awards must state this under the funding section of your application (You do not need to submit an additional application form). Applications for these strategic DEL awards MUST be submitted by Monday 17th February 2014.

  • AHRC NORTHERN BRIDGE DOCTORAL AWARDS: The School is part of the AHRC Funded Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Programme that will fund a number of PhD studentships across various topics in the Arts and Humanities. Many areas of expertise in the School such as Philosophy, Political History and Cultural Studies are closely related to the Arts and Humanities, and are therefore eligible to be considered for this funding.The logistics of supervisory arrangements and how to apply for these studentships can be found on the NBDTP webpage here:
    The deadline for AHRC Doctoral Awards is 5 pm, Monday 17th February 2014. Please state in your application that you wish to be considered for a Northern Bridge award quoting code AH13 in the relevent section.  Students interested in this opportunity should go to the NBDTP webpages
  • CHINA SCHOLARSHIPS: The University will be offering ten fully funded China Scholarship Council awards. These are for students who are citizens of the People's Republic of China and is an open competition. The deadline for applications to Queen’s is Friday, 31st January 2014. Further information on these Scholarships can be found here:


The QUB Postgraduate Centre webpage has excellent information on all the funding opportunities available for Postgraduate Researchers: please visit their page here

All other applications for Postgraduate Research must be submitted by Monday 30th June 2014


For further information regarding tuition fees, see here