PhD by Research

IDS offers a development research programme of supervised study leading to a PhD in topics closely related to its current priorities. Applicants are assessed both on their academic credentials and on the relevance of their proposed research to the work of one or more IDS Fellows. Close working relationships are fostered between doctoral students, their supervisors and Fellows working in the same area, in order to enhance the quality of doctoral education.

The IDS research agenda encompasses many important development challenges. The research programmes are organised in five multidisciplinary teams/clusters:

  • Globalisation: focusing on the dynamics of the global environment in which the private sector investment and growth necessary for poverty reduction are situated.
  • Governance: focusing on the politics of state engagement and public action in developing countries
  • Knowledge, Technology and Society: exploring how science and technology can improve the livelihoods and well-being of poor people, and promote greater social justice
  • Participation, Power and Social Change: looking at how and where participation by citizens can make a difference to questions of social justice and development
  • Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction: improving the understanding of vulnerability, and designing effective means of addressing it, as a central component of poverty reduction
  • Climate Change: developing an understanding of both climate science and the complex, multi-dimensional scientific, socio-economic, technological, institutional and ethical dimensions of climate change.

Applicants are expected to hold a masters degree or equivalent and must either already possess appropriate research skills or attend a research skills course during the first academic year.

The minimum acceptable level of English language competence is grade 7 overall, and no less than 6.5 in each section of the IELTS test (or equivalent). Given our aim of integrating PhD research with ongoing IDS work, prospective applicants are strongly advised to make contact with an IDS fellow specialising in their chosen field well before submitting a formal application.

For the formal application, a 4-5 page research proposal should be submitted indicating what you wish to investigate, how you intend to conduct the research and any contacts you have had with IDS Fellows. It would also be advantageous to include an article or writing sample demonstrating your ability to undertake research and write academic papers.

IDS is unable to accept applications for distance learning. We believe it is in the best interests of both PhD students and the Institute that the majority of the study period is spent at IDS. This offers the opportunity for ongoing interaction with other IDS members and students.

Presence here is vital at the early stage when the research proposal is prepared and then, after fieldwork, at the stage of writing up the research findings. The maximum period of registration is 4 years, but a PhD can be completed in 3 years.

Tuition fees for entry in 2013 are £13,000 for overseas students and £3,900 for UK and EU students. Fees for entry in 2014 will be announced later. IDS requires that students register for a minimum of three years. Most students spend time on overseas fieldwork. During fieldwork, students are registered as distance learners and are charged a fee which is normally 65% of the full-time fee but may be subject to change.

After having made substantial progress and completed 3 years of registration, students may be permitted to transfer to continuation status. IDS considers substantial progress to be the completion of three empirical chapters, supervisors' approval and a successful work-in-progress seminar. If continuation is not granted, then full-time fees are still applicable. The continuation fee is approximately £240 for each year or part thereof.

Unfortunately, neither IDS nor the University of Sussex can offer financial support. Applicants requiring financial assistance should contact their local Ministry of Education or Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Council representative (c/o British Embassy). For the latest information, check the University of Sussex website.

Closing dates for scholarship applications are generally six to nine months before 1 May, the IDS closing date for PhD applications.

We consider applications throughout the year although the official academic year begins in September. We strongly encourage doctoral students to align their studies to this academic calendar.

For a copy of the University of Sussex online prospectus.

For information about University of Sussex online application.