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Political Theory (PhD/MPhil)

PhD 3 years, MPhil 1 year (full-time) / opportunities available (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Programme Aims

To offer knowledge and expertise in subject-specific and generic skills, qualifying you for both academic and non-academic positions in a variety of organisations.

Special Features

Programme Description

The School has an exceptionally strong research culture with a strong reputation for the quality of the research produced and the growing number of research grants it is attracting. It is home to the renowned Collingwood and British Idealism Centre and attracts visiting scholars from all over the world, most prominently Professors Carole Pateman and Rex Martin both of whom have become Honorary Professors at Cardiff.

The Political Theory Research Unit has an unusual concentration of political theorists and historians of political thought and this enables it to offer supervision across a wide range of research topics.

Research Areas

Skills Acquired

Our students will acquire a broad mix of generic research skills, transferable skills and subject-specific skills. By ‘generic’ research skills, we signify the skills that are essential for undertaking any type of research project: mastering information technology, for example, or improving writing styles. Transferable skills are those which improve employability in the broader labour market: these can range from mastery of a foreign language to good communication skills. Discipline-specific skills are more squarely focussed upon the academic discipline you are studying.

Career Prospects

Careers include teaching, universities, civil service/ Foreign Office, European Commission, journalism, business, politics, and NGOs. Our alumni include Huw Edwards (BBC), Neil Bentley (CBI), and Leri Edwards (European Commission).

Student Testimonials

'The diverse PhD community is really strong and we provide much needed support to each other when we all hit the wall!.'

Sarah Gallimore, PhD researcher

Read Sarah's full testimonial

'I never even considered studying my PhD anywhere else as I always had my heart set on Cardiff! Not only is it a fantastic campus right at the heart of the city, but I am part of a proactive and energetic department which strongly promotes and supports not only research but also the holistic skills that as PhD student you need to gain for your chosen future. I have access to the wealth of knowledge both my supervisors provide but also in the wider department and across disciplines.

The diverse PhD community is really strong and we provide much needed support to each other when we all hit the wall! I am supported in developing my own work within the discipline and am able to work at my own pace which as a part time student really makes a difference when you are juggling lots of other commitments.

I have also been able to take advantage of the opportunities to teach at all levels and arrange conferences which enables me to feel part of helping to shape the department within a friendly and supportive environment. I am loving my time as a PhD student at Cardiff University, and have made some fantastic friends and wider contacts. I can’t imagine studying anywhere else!'

'Lots of seminars and talks are organised throughout the University to create a stimulating intellectual environment and give you the chance to meet people from different disciplines and exchange ideas.'

Elsie Rietveld, current PhD student

Read Elsie's full testimonial

'Coming to Cardiff University has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my academic career. Lots of seminars and talks are organised throughout the University to create a stimulating intellectual environment and give you the chance to meet people from different disciplines and exchange ideas. Within the School, such events are a great way of meeting the staff and other students.

Doing a PhD in the School gives me all the freedom, time, and space to develop my own ideas and do exactly the research I want to do. As a small city, Cardiff has enough entertainment to keep you busy without distracting too much. Getting around is easy and quick, and as most students live in certain areas it is nice to have friends just around the corner.

Receiving the President's Scholarship has allowed me to continue my studies. Doing this PhD means I can develop my ideas and hopefully pursue an academic career. Without the Scholarship, I could never have done that, so I'm very pleased with this opportunity.'

Testimonials by our current and previous students are available on our School Pages.

Available Funding

Visit our website for possible funding opportunities.

Entry Requirements

The normal requirement for admission to all Research programmes in the School is a 2:1 (upper second class) degree award, or the overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject. Further guidance on entry requirements is available on each programme page.

However, we consider all individual applicants on their specific merits. If you do not have the standard qualifications for the course you may still apply and your application will be considered. Interviews may be conducted to identify and assess the academic merit of prospective students.

Applicants may be requested to provide their Masters dissertation or other research writing for review. Applicants may be interviewed.

Full-time students are expected to devote at least 39 hours per week for 46 weeks a year to their PhD work (part-time 21 hours per week).

Research students will need to produce and submit a thesis which will be examined by an oral examination.

Those whose first language is not English must obtain a score of at least 6.5 in IELTS or equivalent.

Applicants are also required to submit a Research Proposal (word limit/suggested length: 2,000-3,000 words).

Next intake: The University has four entry points for research degrees: 1 October, 1 January, 1 April, or 1 July

School Contact

Name: Postgraduate Politics Admissions Administrator  

Telephone: +44(0) 2920 874 588  



School Website:

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