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Politics and History PhD

MPhil option available This course has an MPhil option


PhD student loans

The UK Government will be introducing PhD loans of up to £25000 to UK nationals, residing in England for postgraduate research programmes starting in the academic year 2018-19. Read more here

About the course

Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline.

A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.

MPhil degree option
An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.

Research profile

Politics and History at Brunel is a thriving, interdisciplinary community of scholars in the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, with 25 full-time academic faculty as well as a number of associated colleagues, including Honorary Fellows and postgraduate researchers. We engage in world-leading research across the disciplines of politics and history: in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), 64% of our research was rated as world leading or internationally excellent.

The Department offers an inclusive research culture that brings together academic staff, postgraduate research students and taught students in lecture series, workshops and international conferences.

Six broad themes provide the foundation on which much of the research of the Department can be categorized:

  • Modern and Contemporary History, with special focus on the rise and fall of empires, regimes, nations and states
  • The political structures and processes of advanced capitalist states, especially Britain, the US, Asia, countries within the EU, and the EU itself
  • The history of political thought, with special interest in theories of violence and revolution
  • Intelligence and Security Studies, with a key focus on the institutions and processes of intelligence gathering
  • War and Conflict, including military history from the ancient to the modern period, counterinsurgency, peace-building, and border conflict
  • International relations, including specialisms in the modern Middle East and the politics of intervention

Find out more here:

Potential research projects  

Politics and History at Brunel has established a substantial body of cutting-edge research across both subject areas. We place great value on projects which are investigative and theoretical, but which also stress the usefulness and impact of this research to the wider non-academic community. We are not prescriptive in terms of potential research topics. Rather, we wish to invite proposals from any area that fall within the remit of the Department. Our current doctoral students are working on projects such as political party legislation in Turkey, the women’s movement in Apartheid South Africa, and the history of intelligence in Afghanistan.


Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)

Course Content

Research degrees evolve in different ways according to discipline. Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure


PhD+ Award – An internship to work in the industry or perform a research outreach or enterprise activity.

PhD Plus is a career development scheme designed to provide an opportunity for excellent PhD students to undertake work experience and mentoring, and to facilitate their transfer into a career area of their choice. The awards are targeted at exceptional PhD students who have submitted their thesis within the expected submission date and will provide up to three months’ funded support for the period after submissions of their thesis and before the confirmation of the award. The precise number awards each year will depend on the quality of the applicants, up to a maximum 8 awards. The maximum amount to be awarded will be in line with RCUK rates for research training support grants: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/skills/training/


Our recent graduates have followed a variety of paths, including academic careers, further research work on grant-funded projects and careers in politics. While studying with us, you will receive excellent research training, which will prepare you for a range of careers.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Entry Criteria 2018/19

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree.  All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.


Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU Entry Requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English. Find out more information about English course and test options.

Teaching and Assessment


Supervisors with insight
Our supervisors create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip research students with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society.  Take a look at some of there below:


  • Dr Alison Carrol
  • Dr Gareth Dale
  • Professor Philip Davies
  • Dr Filippo Dellucchese
  • Dr Inge Dornan
  • Professor Justin Fisher
  • Mr Mohamed Gaballa
  • Dr Kristian Gustafson
  • Dr Martin Hansen
  • Professor Matthew Hughes
  • Professor Jeffrey Karp
  • Professor Mark Neolclaus
  • Dr Steve Pickering
  • Sr Katja Sarmiento-Mirwaldt
  • Professor Matthew Seligmann
  • Dr Peter Thomas
  • Dr Steven Wagner
  • Dr Hannah Whittaker


Browse all potential supervisor profiles further hereFind out more about working with the Supervisory Team here.


Special Features

Facts and Figures

Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Politics and International Studies. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008.  The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students

Study environment for research students
Find out more: Study environment for research students

Excellent research support and training 

Extensive training and support is offered to all research students by the Graduate School, with regular Masterclasses and individual advice on academic issues as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Read more about the available Research Support and Training.

Library services

Brunel's library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 e-books, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject Information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.

  • state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research publication and grant database
  • one of the largest UK’s full text repository
  • an integrated data management system
  • analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
  • Open Access centrally managed fund

Fees for 2018/19 entry

2018/19 Fees:

Home/EU students

Full time: £4,260/ Part time: £2,130

International students          

Full time: £14,800 Part time: £7,400


2017/18 Fees:

Home/EU students

Full time: £4,195 Part time: £2,097

International students

Full time: £14,400 Part time: £7,200


Research funding

We offer a range of PhD studentships, partial scholarships, and academic prizes, to help with your research fees.  Explore external funding, particularly the Research Councils, as well as other support.

Additional course related costs

Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.