Postgraduate study

Social and Political Science PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Placements/internships

Programme website: Social and Political Science

The main content of this PhD programme is an independent doctoral research under the supervision of at least two members of academic staff form the in Social and Political Science subject area.

Our expertise and interests range across the following subject areas:

  • African Studies
  • Global Health Policy
  • International Development
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Politics and International Relations
  • Social and Public Policy
  • Social Anthropology
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Socio-cultural Studies
  • South Asian Studies

Your application must clearly state the potential supervisor you have contacted.

Graduate attributes

On completion of your PhD in Social and Political Science you will have:

  • A critical understanding of theories and concepts in the social and political sciences.
  • A critical, detailed and often leading knowledge and understanding of literature at the forefront of the specialist research area.
  • Designing and generation of original research that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field.
  • Knowledge of the principal research methods in the social sciences.
  • Application of relevant research methods and techniques of enquiry on a specific research question.
  • Exercise of critical judgement with regard to both your own work and that of other scholars in the same general field.
  • Application of an integrated approach to critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas, information and issues.
  • Communication to a range of audiences including communication to a specialist audience through published academic work.
  • Demonstration of substantial authority and exercise of a high level of autonomy and initiative in academic and equivalent activities.
  • If appropriate, practising in ways which are reflective, self-critical and based on research/evidence.
  • Management of complex ethical and professional issues.

In undertaking this PhD you will also be able to choose from a range of courses which provide research training in a wide range of social science methods, including qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. You can also take courses addressing aspects such as research ethics and positionality, as well as substantive taught courses in the School of SPS as relevant for your thesis.

You will be part of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and can participate in all offered courses, events and initiatives such as internships.

You will have access to a suite of professional development courses and workshops offered by the University’s Institute for Academic Development and the School’s Student Development Office.

Research library and archive facilities in Edinburgh are outstanding. All research students are members of the Graduate School of Social & Political Science, with full access to the Graduate School’s facilities in the Chrystal Macmillan Building. Other library and archive facilities include the University’s Main Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Records Office. Proximity to the Scottish Parliament and other institutions of national government provides further research opportunities.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65%, or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDSocial and Political Science3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDSocial and Political Science6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 6 July 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

You must submit two references with your application.

We encourage PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD