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PhD in International Relations


We aspire to challenge the boundaries of the international relations discipline and make the world a better place.

You’ll benefit from our strong international networks. We’ve undertaken consultancy and commissioned work in a range of fields including:


  • human rights
  • development studies
  • security.

Join our expert faculty and lively community of doctoral researchers – you’ll be exposed to ideas at the cutting edge of the discipline. Our policy and public impact work is world leading.


USA requirements
Degree requirements You’re normally expected to have a Merit (an average of 60% of overall) in a Masters degree and an upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree
Subject-specific requirements

Your qualification should be in international relations or a closely-related subject area.

In exceptional circumstances, you may be considered for the degree if you have a qualification in a different subject area.

You may also be considered for the degree if you have other professional qualifications or experience of equivalent standing.

We also offer a 1+3 route incorporating the MSc in Social Research Methods or further specialist research training modules within Year 1 for those without the required research training.

Course Level:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Up to 4 years full time, 6 years part time



  • a First or Upper Second Class Bachelor’s degree (or its international equivalent); and
  • a relevant master’s degree, with a minimum average grade of 65% in both the course units and your dissertation and no mark below 55% (or international equivalent).


Full-time and part-time study

Choose to work on your research full time or part time, to fit around your work and personal life. 


PhD or MPhil?

You can choose to study for a PhD or an MPhil. PhD and MPhil degrees differ in duration and in the extent of your research work.

  • For a PhD, your research work makes a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding in your chosen field.
  • For an MPhil, your work is an independent piece of research but in less depth than for a PhD. You’ll graduate with the degree title Master of Philosophy. You might be able to change to a PhD while you study for an MPhil.

Career opportunities

The University has its own dedicated Careers Service that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate. At Northampton you will have access to a number of opportunities to help support you with your goals for the future.

Our PhD in Sociology graduates have progressed into a variety of roles, such as:

  • lectureships;
  • research posts;
  • senior administrative positions in local government;
  • NHS;
  • educational institutions;
  • homeworking and trade unions;
  • Union linked positions.

There is a need for well-trained social scientists who are able to apply advanced methods of analysis to complex data. These skills are in short supply and our graduates leave in a good position to obtain jobs in:

  • the academic sector;
  • central government;
  • the Office for National Statistics;
  • local government;
  • the commercial research sector.

Many of our PhD graduates continue their research at post-doctoral level, sometimes becoming academics at Northampton and other universities around the world.

You will have access to a dedicated Researcher Development Team who will support your professional development throughout your PhD journey and beyond.

Our researcher development programme will enable you to become more aware of your developing researcher identity, equipping you with the skills you need during your PhD and prepare you to integrate into the researcher community.

We offer training sessions to build your skills and confidence in writing and presenting, with specific sessions on viva preparation, thesis submission and preparing for your Review Panel.

You’ll also have access to a range of workshops, covering areas such as:

  • increasing research impact through blog posts;
  • making the most of social media;
  • publishing in journals;
  • applying for fellowships;
  • designing academic posters;
  • improving time and self-management.

In addition, our Humanities training hub ProGRess@humanities gives you additional training opportunities in public engagement, wellbeing, language training and teaching, alongside more specialist courses in tools and software such as Python, R and NVivo.

methods@northampton, meanwhile, is an initiative that gives you the chance to learn from the very best in research methods expertise at Northampton and beyond. Regular talks, workshops and other methods-related events are organised throughout the academic year.

Finally, taking a placement provides a great opportunity to engage in knowledge exchange and to develop professional networking opportunities for your future career development.

We have established programmes with a small number of institutions around the world, offering you the opportunity to visit another institution, access research resources and experience another academic culture as well as build professional networks.

Successful applicants will receive some funding towards travel expenses, accommodation, subsistence, education materials and/or other education-related costs.