::Studying for a PhD 

New: Two New Leverhulme Trust-Funded PhD Studentships for September 2015. Separate application process. Click here for further details.

Royal Holloway, University of London is one of the major Colleges of the University of London. The University of London is a federal university, founded in 1836. It comprises over 60 institutions of varying size and profile, from colleges with many thousands of students to small research institutes. It is the largest and most diverse university in Britain and one of the largest in Europe. University of London degrees have long had an international reputation for excellence.

The New Political Communication Unit is based in The Department of Politics and International Relations, which is ranked 15th nationally in the 2013 Sunday Times University League Table. It is ranked 18th nationally in the 2014 Complete University Guide.

Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway now also ranks among the top 200 departments of its kind in the world in the QS World University Rankings. The department is positioned just outside the top 150.

In the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, it was confirmed that Royal Holloway sits within the top 25 per cent of universities in the UK for research that is rated 'world-leading or 'internationally excellent.'

Fully 72 percent of research in the Department of Politics and International Relations research was judged to be world-leading (4*) and internationally-excellent (3*), placing it 18th among Politics and International Relations departments in the UK for this measure. This proportion has increased from 30 per cent since the last assessment exercise in 2008, and reflects our continued successful growth. For research 'outputs', which means the 'originality, significance and rigour' of the research submitted, the department comes out 13th in the UK for 4* and 3* quality. In terms of 'research intensity,' which takes into account the proprtion of staff in each department actually entered into the REF, the Times Higher placed the department an impressive 10th in the UK.

Royal Holloway, University of London currently ranks 88th globally in the rigorous Times Higher's World University Rankings, and 18th globally and 3rd in the UK for research influence.

The University of London PhD
In the University of London system, a PhD is awarded to students who produce a substantial piece of original research in the form of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. Candidates for PhD are normally registered for 3 years full-time, with submission within not more than 4 years, or 4 to 7 years part-time. Students must remain registered and paying an appropriate fee until submission.

Please note that there is a limited number of places available on our PhD programme. Applications are considered in the order in which they are received. We strongly recommend that you enquire about potential study in the autumn and early winter before the academic year in which you wish to begin your research.

How to Apply

We welcome applications from suitably qualified and highly-motivated candidates. We welcome informal enquiries about research degrees via the Department of Politics and International Relations' Director of Postgraduate Study, Professor Sandra Halperin. In the first instance you should forward your CV and an outline research proposal. Candidates whose research interests match those of the Unit may be invited to the Unit to discuss their research proposal and to meet their prospective supervisor(s). We place great emphasis on matching prospective students to supervisors’ interests, and on building on our existing research activities.
Candidates may apply at any stage of the academic year, though they are strongly encouraged to apply no later than mid-July for entry in September. As we detail below, candidates wishing to apply for ESRC and College funding should apply by February. 


Each research student is allocated both a specialist supervisor and an adviser, whose role is to provide support and to review and monitor progress. All research student activity in the Department of Politics and International Relations is overseen by the Director of Graduate Study. The Department believes that careful supervision, appropriate research and subject training, and a supportive academic environment are crucial to the successful completion of research degrees. Students' supervisors and the Department's Director of Graduate Studies take primary responsibility for the academic and welfare needs of research postgraduates in the Department. A departmental handbook is issued to all research students annually, and students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the College Code of Practice for the Academic Welfare of Postgraduate Research Students.

Research Training

Methods Training Programme
The Department of Politics and International Relations provides a structured in-house Methods Training Programme for all of its postgraduate research students. This programme is compulsory for all first-year postgraduate research students in the New Political Communication Unit.
College Research Development Programme
This covers issues such as effective communication, academic networking, and career-related advice. The programme has been designed to be 'rolling' in nature. Students will have the opportunity to access particular sessions throughout the year at appropriate stages of their research. The sessions are arranged mostly by Faculty groupings so that students can participate in courses with fellow researchers and more easily form networking groups.

The Unit, based in the Department of Politics and International Relations in the College's famous Founders Building, has a number of rooms available for PhD students. These are operated on a "hot desk" basis and feature Windows PCs, network points and WiFi access. The Department also has a Common Room complete with a PC and large LCD screen for slide presentations. The room is primarily for use by staff for meetings and research seminars, but is also bookable by PhD students for events.

Students in our field may access the powerful LexisNexis database, which is the world's largest collection of news, company, people, industry, regulatory, and legal content taken from 35,000 sources from 1975 to the present day. Access this via MetaLib (on campus only or off-campus via VPN) at this link.

The RHUL network caters for both Mac OS and Windows users and can offer basic advice on some flavours of Linux (mainly Ubuntu). Unit staff use all three operating systems and a wide variety of research and productivity software, such as NVivo, Endnote, Sente, SPSS, Stata, Yep!, Evernote, Transana, TAMS Analyzer, and have increasing knowledge of a wide variety of text mining applications such as Sysomos. Together with quantitative and qualitative analysis software available from Royal Holloway Computing Services, these resources enable traditional both and cutting edge social scientific research, with media and communication research particularly well catered for. All of the campus has excellent WiFi coverage, with simple web based login accessible by Mac OS, Windows, Linux computers and a wide range of smartphones.

Internet-accessible communication journals are particularly well catered for in the College Library via EBSCO's Communication and Mass Media Complete journals database, covering more than 600 titles. Access this via MetaLib (on campus only or off-campus via VPN) at this link.

We can also offer research students the latest technology to assist with their data gathering, fieldwork and analysis. This includes high quality Edirol MP3 recorders for interviews and focus groups, and a wireless conference phone for international interviews; the loan of laptops; a digital camera and hard disk based camcorder for audiovisual work and for recording events. Together with quantitative and qualitative analysis software available from Royal Holloway Computing Services, these resources enable traditional both and cutting edge social scientific research, with media and communication research particularly well catered for.

The College is a subscriber to Box of Broadcasts (BoB), an online television recording and media archive service. BoB is available to staff and students of member institutions of the British Universities Film & Video Council that hold an ERA+ license. This TV scheduling service allows you to record TV and radio programmes that are scheduled to be broadcast over the next seven days as well as retrieving programmes from the last seven days from a selected list of recorded channels and an enormous archive of all of the broadcasts ever recorded using the platform.


Sources of Funding

Our Doctoral programme is fully accredited by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Department of Politics and International Relations is a partner in the new (2011) ESRC South East Doctoral Training Consortium. Composed of social scientists from the universities of Kent, Surrey, and Reading, the Consortium funds cutting-edge doctoral students in the social sciences across the South East region and makes high quality training resources, video-conferences, workshops and master classes available to all social science research students in the four institutions. The advanced training element of the consortium’s activities will also be linked to the Universities of Essex and Sussex. Accreditation was a highly competitive process, with only 21 consortia securing accreditation nationally. 

The deadline for applications for DTC ESRC funding is usually February. The precise date will be advertised internationally nearer the time. Offers to successful candidates should go out the week before Easter. Full details on ESRC PhD funding can be found here. Further details of the ESRC DTC South East can be found here. The ESRC DTC has a total of 24 fully funded PhD scholarships available.

Candidates wishing to be considered for an ESRC studentship are strongly advised to contact a potential supervisor no later than the start of January in the year in which they wish to commence their research. We also welcome proposals for CASE studentships from individual students and third party organisations. There is an internal College process to select the candidates for funding and this is extremely competitive.

A small number of scholarships is available each year from the College, including Reid Scholarships, Thomas Holloway research students and scholarships, College research studentships, Royal Holloway Jointly-Funded Chevening Scholarships, College Overseas Entrance Scholarships. For more information about these opportunities for external funding visit the College's funding pages.

The Department of Politics and International Relations also offers Departmental Awards and Assistantships designed to top-up certain College awards. These are advertised internationally when available.

Teaching and Other Opportunities

Opportunities to undertake paid undergraduate seminar tutoring may be available for suitably qualified full-time research students. Postgraduate teacher training is provided by the College for this purpose. Occasionally, PhD candidates may have the opportunity to undertake part-time paid employment as research assistants to academic staff