Politics and International Relations Distance Learning PhD

The distance learning PhD programme is ideal for those who are based away from Leicester or who want to combine working for a research degree with their professional and personal commitments.

Distance Learning Research Student

Our distance learning PhDs offer a more flexible way to study for a research degree - allowing you to undertake a University of Leicester PhD wherever you are based in the world.

As with the campus based PhD, you will undertake a substantial research project that is written up as a thesis of 80,000 words and defended in an oral exam (the viva voce).

Distance Learning PhD Description

Entry Requirements

Standard academic entry requirements and English language entry requirements apply.

Tuition Fees

Total Course Fee 2018/9 Entry

  • UK/EU £19,070
  • International £22,830

Total Course Fee for 2019/0  Entry

  • UK/EU Fees £19,930
  • International Fees £23,855


If you are living outside of the UK/EU during your studies you will pay the International fee.  For clarification please contact pgradmissions@le.ac.uk

The fees quoted are the total fee for the PhD by Distance Learning programme and are paid over the first 4 years of study.  Fees can be paid using any of the options below.

1. Total course fee paid in full before first registration.

2. Total course fee split into 4 annual payments with first annual payment made in full before first registration

3. Total course fee split into 4 annual payments with each annual payment divided into 3 instalments. The first instalment to be paid before first registration.

A payment schedule will be sent with the offer letter.


Registration Period

  • Normal - Four Years
  • Maximum - Seven Years


There is no difference between the distance learning PhD qualification and the campus based equivalent and both degrees are recognised internationally.

Supervisory Support

All distance learning PhD research students are allocated a personal supervisor who will help you plan and manage your research and develop your understanding of relevant research methodology.

You'll keep in touch with your supervisor through regular supervisory meetings provided online or by telephone.

Research Skills Training

We have nearly twenty years' experience in supporting distance learning postgraduates.

Distance learning PhD research students undertake a structured programme of research training, delivered entirely through a combination of module books and interactive tasks, readings, and discussion through the University's online virtual learning environment.

The training covers core skills including:

  • Requirements of the PhD degree and expectations for the thesis
  • Finding and reviewing academic literature
  • Formulating and refining research questions
  • Research ethics
  • Academic writing
  • Quantitative research and analysis
  • Qualitative research and analysis

University Resources

Alongside this core training, distance learners have access to a range of online resources and materials to help you:

  • develop an effective working relationship with your supervisor
  • develop your broader academic writing skills including related concepts such as referencing and avoiding plagiarism
  • plan and manage the writing of your thesis and prepare for the viva exam

You'll also have access to the University Library's online resources for distance learning researchers including remote access to some 18,000 electronic journals, books, and databases.

Visiting Leicester

Distance learning PhD research students are registered on probation for the first twenty-four months of their degree. Over this period you will complete your research skills training and your overall suitability for a PhD programme will be monitored.

At the end of this period your progress will be assessed and, subject to this being satisfactory, you can then continue with your degree.

You will be required to visit Leicester both for your probation review and for your viva exam at the end of your degree. You are not required to visit Leicester at any other time, but distance learners are welcome to do so should they wish to:

  • meet their supervisor or fellow researchers
  • use facilities such as the University Library
  • attend training sessions or other University events for researchers
Applications and Further Details

Applications for the distance learning PhD can be submitted online and should include a full research proposal:

  1. Search our staff research interests to make sure we offer PhD supervision in the area you want to work in.
  2. Once you have done this, please get in touch with the relevant supervisor to ask them if your research would be something they could undertake and if the proposal sounds viable. Please note: it is not the role of the lecturer to comment in depth upon a proposal
  3. Draft a research proposal
A research proposal needs to be substantive and in depth. It is on the basis of the proposal that we (mostly) make the final decision
  • Some general points to think about:
  • A PhD proposal needs to be in-depth and focused.
  • Begin with your ‘research puzzle’. What is your starting point for the research?
  • What is the main literature (academic and/or policy) in your field?  A PhD must make an ‘original contribution to knowledge’ as broadly understood. In order to do this, you must to situate your research proposal in an academic and/or policy field and explain how your work corrects/contributes to/builds upon  the field.  This means that there must be some substantive discussion of the main literature in the field.
  • Think about your research question/s. They need to be focused and specific.
  • How will your chapters work towards answering your question/s?

You might be interested in signing up for our 5 week online course 'Discovering Your PhD Potential: Writing a Research Proposal. The course is offered through FutureLearn where you can register your interest for the next available course.

4.Prepare your supporting documents

  • include all relevant certificates/diplomas and transcripts
  • international applicants must provide official copies of their entire course transcripts including explanations of the mark schemes used and, where possible, an indication of their class ranking/position in class
  • supporting documents not in English must be provided with a certified English translation

You must also provide contact details for two academic (not personal) referees who can comment on your suitability for the research degree programme

5. Submit your online application

If you have any questions about the distance learning PhD or about PhD supervision in the Department of Politics and International Relations, please contact us.

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