Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate Research

PhD and MRes

Duration of study: Full-time 36 months; part-time 60 months.

Part-time study: We offer part-time PhDs to UK and EU students, either on campus or via Distance Learning (subject dependant). Please note part-time study is not available for resident international students and must be completed via Distance Learning (if available).

Residency: A PhD may be conducted on campus or by distance learning. Full-time, on-campus students normally study residentially for 36 months, working with a supervisor and attending research seminars, taking part fully in the research community here. If you are an international student and want to study on campus, you will need a Tier 4 student visa. The PhD may be undertaken by Distance Learning, with no residency or visa requirement (a visitor's visa may be required for making visits to Aberdeen). Distance learning involves the same level of supervision as residential study, and supervisors may stipulate that some meetings be in person. Please see the PhD by distance learning page for more information.


Applicants to the PhD must provide a detailed research proposal and two academic references from their most recent academic institution.  APPLICANTS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO CONTACT POTENTIAL SUPERVISORS BEFORE MAKING AN APPLICATION.  Please see our research interests in Anthropology, Politics and International Relations and Sociology and also read our proposal guidelines: (Guidelines for writing a Research Proposal).

We also offer MRes degree programmes: MRes Social Anthropology and MRes Social Science.

PhD Museum Studies

The PhD in Museum Studies is a research degree that is available as a campus-based or distance learning option. It requires the candidate to make an original and significant contribution to the discipline of Museum Studies. Holding a Masters degree is normally a qualification for entry and applicants will ideally have some professional experience of working in museums. A student’s programme of work will be based on their own intellectual interests and will be developed in consultation with the student’s supervisors. The final product of the PhD is a thesis; this will be judged by two examiners and the candidate will be subject to an oral examination (the viva).

PhD in Social Anthropology

The PhD programme in Social Anthropology is a research degree focused on making significant original contribution to anthropology. Holding a Masters degree is normally a qualification for entry.  The programme is oriented towards extending students’ knowledge of domains of anthropological theory and current research appropriate to the design of a major research project that will form the basis of a  thesis report that will be defended in a viva.  The student’s program of work, which is based on his/her intellectual interests and proposal field research, is developed in consultation with the supervisors, and is expected to draw on, and contribute to, on the research expertise in the department. Applicants with only an undergraduate degree should apply for the MRes in Social Anthropology and indicate that they intend to transfer to PhD upon successful completion of the masters degree.


PhD in Politics & International Relations

The PhD programme in Politics/International Relations is a research degree and requires the candidate to make an original and significant contribution to the discipline of Political Science or International Relations depending on the specific research topic.  Most students already hold a Master's degree in one of these fields; if not, it may be necessary to enrol for a one-year MRes degree in Political Research. Other requirements regarding theoretical and methodological preparation for the PhD will be decided by the candidate's supervisors in light of the candidate's research topic and preparation for pursuing it.  The final product of the PhD is a thesis; this will be judged by two examiners and will be subject to an oral examination of the candidate (the viva).  Prospective candidates are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisors within the Department at Aberdeen in order to develop an original and feasible research project that can be completed within a typical three or four year programme of study (full-time).  Applicants will only an undergraduate degree should apply first to the MRes in Political Research and indicate that they intend to transfer to the PhD programme upon the successful completion of the MRes degree.

PhD Sociology

The Department is committed to providing nationally and internationally recognised training in social research and equipping postgraduate students with broader transferable skills. Students applying for the PhD should have prior training in research methods at postgraduate level. The Department offers a postgraduate MRes (Social Research) that may be taken over one year full-time or two years part-time. The MRes and PhD together constitute our ESRC-recognised 1+3 postgraduate research programme. The Department is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council for the quality of its postgraduate education. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the ranking of the quality of research carried out by the UK government, the department performed strongly, with 55% of research publications submitted being ranked by an independent panel as world-leading and internationally recognised. It has been rated consistently amongst the top two departments of sociology in Scotland, and in the top cohort of all departments in the United Kingdom.

MRes in Social Anthropology

The MRes in Social Anthropology is a one year postgraduate course providing training in anthropological research. It draws on the wide range of expertise within the Department and also provides access to the library, archival and museum collections of the University of Aberdeen.


MRes in Social Science

The MRes in Social Science is a one-year research degree, combining specialist and generic training to equip you with transferable skills for graduate employment in the public, private and third sector. It also lays the foundation to undertake advanced doctoral studies.