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How to apply for a PhD

Heslington Hall from Lake

Admission to the PhD programme is normally based on a good performance at undergraduate level (usually a 2.1 or a First) and a Masters degree with a minimum 60% award mark; at least one of these will be in a social science-related subject. In exceptional cases, the department may consider students from non-social science backgrounds, where the student can clearly demonstrate equivalent experience and knowledge and this is supported by academic references. Before being admitted to the programme all students will be interviewed. An interview is offered when the Director of Postgraduate Research and your potential supervisor have reviewed your application and are satisfied that you meet the minimal entry requirements. 

A PhD thesis makes a substantive contribution to knowledge or understanding in the chosen field. When applying, candidates should take care to indicate as clearly and fully as possible the nature and scope of the proposed research, outlining why they think it is both original and important.

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Studentships Guidance

If you hold an offer from the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of York, you are automatically considered for a studentship and you must hold an offer from us to be considered for a studentship. You are eligible if you have an offer for the PhD in Politics and International Relations (full-time or part-time). 

These studentships are separate from other funding that you may be seeking (e.g., through the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership or the White Rose College for Arts and Humanities). Please make sure you look at the separate guidance for those schemes if you are interested in them.

How to apply FAQ's

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English may need to satisfy language requirements.

The Department of Politics and International Relations has a higher minimum level than the university more generally, because of the more difficult nature of the literature that Politics students must engage with. The departmental requirements are:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each component)

The University accepts other evidence of English language attainment, please see the Postgraduate Admissions web pages.

Writing a research proposal

 Have a look at our guidance on how to write a research proposal.

Guidance to departmental Postgraduate Research studentships for applicants 2023-4

Deadline for applications

As far as the Department is concerned, there is no formal deadline for the receipt of applications, but most funding bodies have strict deadlines which you should be aware of. 

Students who require a visa to study in the UK should also allow 4-6 weeks to obtain the necessary visa before term starts.

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Interview guidance

To help prospective students prepare for interviews we offer the following Interview guidance (PDF , 39kb).


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