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DRAFTPhD Course Structure

Year 1 | Year 2 | Year 3 | Year 4 | Year 3/4 | Additional training 

Undertaking a research project that spans at least three years* can be a daunting task. While not as structured as a taught postgraduate programme, the PhD in PAIS is segmented into four stages, each with distinct milestones to help you monitor your progress and pursue your research at the best pace. You can also supplement the standard PhD programme with additional training provided by the Graduate School.

Year 1

Your first year lays the foundation for your research. On the bespoke PhD training module, Doctoral Thesis Writing in Politics and International Studies, you will develop doctoral researching skills and collaborate with your peers to overcome the challenges of PhD research.

This seminar will also prepare you for the first year review, which takes place each May. This review, involving both written and presentational elements, is used to determine whether you are ready to upgrade from MPhil student to a full PhD.

Year 2

During your second year, you will continue to attend advanced training seminars in the department while you dig into the heart of your research. Many candidates use part or all of the second year to conduct fieldwork elsewhere in the UK or abroad.

The second year culminates in a review consisting of a written report on your progress and a ‘Pitch to Peers’ workshop in which you’ll have 15 minutes to present and pitch your thesis to your peers and a core panel of staff, followed by a short Q&A.

Year 3

While you should be in the habit of writing from day one, the process of tying your thesis together and finalising it for submission begins in earnest during year three and normally continues into the first part of year four.

A final progress check is conducted at the end of this year.

Year 4

Although you should aim to finish in Year 3, realistically most students submit their thesis in year 4. The University does not normally allow an extension beyond Year 4.

Year 3/4

Submission of thesis: You should aim to submit your finished thesis in the first 6 months of your fourth year. After you submit, you will defend your thesis in front of internal and external examiners as your final assessment for the degree (the viva).


Submission of major/minor corrections, according to the viva outcome.


*Full-time students are registered for 4 years initially, the fourth year being a writing-up period not subject to fees; part-time students are initially registered for 5 years. Part-time students are still expected to submit First Year Review documents during year 1 of their studies.

Additional training

Additional research training and personal and professional development are available through the department, the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership, and the Library. You can also sit in on key MA modules by arrangement with your supervisor and relevant module director if appropriate. Warwick also provides additional support through the Careers & Skills Office to help you build your CV and enhance your employment prospects well ahead of graduation.