PhD programme

PGR Convenor 
Dr Patrick Shea

Welcome to the PhD programme in Politics & International Relations (IR) at the University of Glasgow. On this page you will find information about current PhD students and information for prospective research students.

Current PhD Students

Within Politics & IR we have an active and engaged international community of doctoral students, about a third of whom are from the UK with the rest coming from countries around the world. We pride ourselves on our active co-supervision by staff with complementary expertise. We work to foster this community through our research seminars, participation in research clusters, professional development sessions and regular staff-student social events.

PhD students are actively encouraged to affiliate themselves with at least one of our research clusters (Area Studies, Comparative Politics, International Relations). There are also numerous research centres in whose activities PhD students can participate.

Each student is entitled to:

  • A computer and full IT support
  • Telephone and photocopying facilities
  • Access to unrivalled library facilities

Information for prospective PhD students


Within Politics & IR there are about 35 research-active, full-time staff. Members of Glasgow Politics and International Relations publish extensively in the top journals in the discipline and have recently received research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC); British Academy; Carnegie; the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); the European Research Council (ERC); Jean Monnet Programme of the European Commission Leverhulme; Royal Society of Edinburgh; Scottish Funding Council; UKRI/Medical Research Council; and the Volkswagen Foundation.

 Click here for more information about our staff

The Politics and International Relations (PIR) pathway at the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science – Scotland’s ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – provides funded PhD studentships here in the School of Social and Political Sciences. For more information contact our pathway representative, Dr Patrick Shea.

Topics for supervision

We offer supervision across a wide range of subjects, reflecting our strength in the main sub-fields of the discipline: Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory and Area Studies.

  • Comparative Politics - topics for which supervision is available include: business & politics; democracy and democratisation; elections and voting, including referenda; energy policy; environmental policy; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) politics; political communication; political economy; political parties; political psychology; politics of education; politics of migration; public opinion, especially elections, political trust, participation and democratic support; social movements and political activism; welfare policy.

  • We have particular expertise in comparative politics of China; Western, Eastern and Central Europe; the European Union; United States; Russia and the post-Soviet region; Latin America; and the Middle East. For some topics we also have expertise on Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

  • International Relations - topics for which supervision is available include: conflict and political violence; critical security studies and approaches to peace; development and foreign aid; emotions and aesthetics in global politics; foreign policy analysis; gender and development; humanitarianism; IR theory; international cooperation and international organisations; international development; international organisations; international political economy; international security; migration and refugee politics; post-colonial and decolonial international relations; securitisation theory; transnational politics (non-state actors); war: causes and origins; war: strategic studies.

  • We have particular expertise in international relations in Europe (East, West and Central); Russia & the post-Soviet region; the European Union; North America; the Middle East; China. For some topics expertise also in Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Asia.

  • Political Theory - topics for which supervision is available include: climate change ethics; distributive justice; egalitarianism; history of political economy; history of political thought; liberal and conservative political thought; methods in political theory; political philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment.

How to find a topic and supervisor

If you want to apply for a PhD in Politics & IR, this is how you should proceed:

  • Identify a broad subject area you find deeply interesting, with which you are prepared to live for 3-4 years.
  • Write a research proposal - this page explains what a research proposal should look like.  Then:
  • identify a potential supervisor: a member of staff who works on a subject area closely related to your proposal. You can find the research interests of our staff by browsing our staff profiles.
  • Write to the person you identify and ask them if they would be interested in supervising.  When you email them, you should send them your research proposal and an up-to-date CV.  Please do NOT send emails to many members of staff.  If you send it to more than one person for whom the topic mights be relevant, copy them all in the same email. 
  • Otherwise, you can email the PGR Convener (Dr Patrick Shea) directly. She will then decide whether to seek supervisors, and if so will then reply in due course on whether the required team of two supervisors might be available, and advise of whether to proceed to a formal application, on which see 'How to apply' below.

How to apply

For general questions, please contact the Director of the Politics & International Relations PhD programme Dr Ana Ines Langer.