PhD Research Scholarships 2021

Postgraduate students

The School of Politics and International Relations has a long tradition of high-quality research among its staff and students. The School’s vibrant research culture attracts students from all over the world who conduct research at the forefront of our discipline. The breadth of expertise within the School enables us to provide research supervision on a wide range of topics as well as theoretical and methodological approaches. We particularly welcome applications from female and BAME candidates.

We are inviting applications for a number of research scholarships to commence in September 2021. Some scholarships will take the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) for PhD applicants only. We will also be bidding for ESRC/SeNSS-funded studentships as part of the South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP); we welcome applications for PhD (+3) and Master’s+PhD (1+3) awards. The SeNSS studentships include a doctoral stipend (equivalent to the UK Research and Innovation National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 2020/21 rate (2021/22 rate to be announced)), tuition fees at the Home rate (Kent will waive the difference between Home and Overseas tuition fee rate) and access to further research funding.

PhD / Master’s+PhD programmes

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

Students engaged as Graduate Teaching Assistants hold a unique position in the University; they are both registered PhD students in receipt of a scholarship and employees of the University. The GTAs will cover tuition fees plus a combined maintenance grant and salary, equivalent to the UK Research and Innovation National Minimum Doctoral Stipend. The GTAs will be offered for one year in the first instance, renewable for a maximum of three years subject to satisfactory academic performance.

South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) PhD Studentships

SeNSS is one of only 14 UK ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnerships and will be offering a number of fully-funded ESRC doctoral studentships to start in September 2021. To find out more about eligibility, see the SeNSS page.


To be considered for the scholarships, candidates must hold a good Honours degree (First or 2:1), or a Master’s degree (merit or distinction) from recognised institutions, with first-class marks in research dissertations and research methods (if available). Candidates for 1+3 must show equivalent marks in their undergraduate transcript. All candidates must have at least two supportive academic references, and a background in politics and international relations or a relevant discipline. Applicants must also provide evidence that they satisfy the University’s minimum English language requirements.


Graduate Teaching Assistantships
The GTA competition is open to applicants from any country. Please note that Overseas students must have the appropriate documentation to evidence eligibility to work in the UK. The method of determining tuition fee status is complex and follows guidelines issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs. Please note that current Kent PhD students are not eligible for GTAs.

SeNSS Studentships
Home and Overseas students are eligible to apply for a SeNSS Studentship. UK residential conditions:

  • Be a UK National (meeting UKRI residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirement) or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If you are applying as an Overseas student (this includes EU nationals), Kent will waive the difference between the Home and Overseas fees.

If a SeNSS 1+3 applicant has not completed/is not studying a SeNSS approved Master’s degree, additional checks will be needed to ensure that the required research methods training outcomes have been met. SeNSS 1+3 candidates should note that all of our taught Master’s degrees are compliant.

How to apply

All completed applications must be received by 12:00 noon (GMT) on 18 January 2021.

Completed applications must comprise all of the following:

  • Submission of an online application via KentVision for a PhD place (and a taught Master’s place if applying for a 1+3 award) in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent including:
    • The name of the proposed supervisor (this should be agreed with the relevant staff member prior to submission)
    • A transcript of degree undergraduate and postgraduate marks to date and certificate, if completed, in pdf format
    • The name and email address of two academic referees. Please leave a suitable amount of time for your referees to respond to the reference request which is sent automatically upon submission of the PhD application in KentVision. References must also be received by 12:00 noon (GMT) on 18 January 2021.
    • A current CV in pdf format
  • Candidates for a SeNSS studentship must also include a draft statement from their prospective supervisor in their application to Kent.
  • Submission of a FluidReview application (SeNSS only).

For guidance, please see the School’s PhD selection criteria document.

Shortlisting and interviews

The shortlisting process will start from Wednesday 20 January and interviews will be held virtually on Tuesday 26 January 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be required to present their proposal using visual aids (ie Powerpoint presentation slides) at interview.

Other funding opportunities

Global Challenges Doctoral Centre Scholarships
School of Politics and International Relations Research Scholarships 2021 applicants should also consider applying for the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre scholarships. The deadline for applications for this competition is also 18 January 2021. Separate application criteria and procedures apply.

CHASE, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) PhD Studentships
While ESRC is the primary funding body for Political Science and International Relations, the AHRC also supports research that is concerned with the relationship between the politics, international relations and the culture, history and language and religion of specific countries and regions. The deadline for applications for this competition is 11 January 2021. Separate application criteria and procedures apply.