School of Social Sciences

Politics and International Relations

PhD in Politics and International Relations


The PhD in Security, Stabilisation, Resilience, and Development (SSRD) is a multi-disciplinary programme that addresses contemporary conflict dynamics including but not limited to (i) conflict causation and post-conflict stabilization and management (ii) insurgency, counter-insurgency (COIN), and counter-terrorism events and approaches, and (iii) the political, economic, and social dynamics of conflict and post-conflict environments. 

The PhD in SSRD recognizes the complex security environments that are endemic in the Middle East region in particular and, as such, welcomes applications from candidates with interests in Iraq and Syria, and also in other parts of the region, including North Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Applications will also be welcome from those wishing to undertake comparative research addressing situations in other world regions. 

The PhD in SSRD will equip researchers with the interdisciplinary skills necessary to undertake advanced research, inform policy, and enhance practitioner involvement in dynamic conflict environments and contested political settings

Note: This programme is intended to be supervised in partnership with United Kingdom Academics with expertise in the politics of the region and the Middle East. 

The Process:

  1. Initial Requirements for Applicants: All requirements set by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research will strictly apply. In addition, the applicant is requested to submit their enrolment and research proposal applications using the form and guidelines provided in either of the following formats:

    • In response to the areas and topics of research that are announced by the university;
    • Self-proposed research topic relevant to the needs of Kurdistan Region that the university could provide relevant expert and academic supervision.
  2. Given the entry requirements, the student will be enrolled as a Research Candidate and allocated a Supervisory team of two: The main supervisor will be acting as the Director of Studies.
  3. The Research Candidate with the support of the supervisory team will work on developing the submitted work to a full proposal within a period of not more than nine months to be submitted for assessment and transfer.
  4. Within this period, the Supervisory team will guide the candidate in preparing him/her for the task by:

    • Identifying academic and professional gaps in the candidate’s knowledge needed for the task;
    • Requesting candidates to enrich their knowledge and understanding either by attending defined mandatory courses if available or study the required topics on a one to one (Student-Supervisory team) basis.

Once completed, the Transfer Report will be submitted for a blind reviewing process by two external referees.

  1. The Assessment process of the Transfer Report
    The two external Referees will assess the report for:

    • The suitability of the Research Proposal for a PhD degree;
    • The eligibility of the Supervisory team;
    • The capability of the candidate to conduct the research proposal;
    • The Research proposal is doable within the period that it has been given.
  2. Results of the Refereed Transfer Report
    The candidate will be:

    • Transferred to PhD with the time spent on the TR counted towards the degree;
    • Requested to revise, improve and resubmit;
    • A decision to complete and submit as an MPhil degree;
    • A decision to reject the work.
  3. Minimum expectations
    The completed PhD thesis should:

    • Demonstrate significant contribution to knowledge;
    • Not part of any other degree and not submitted elsewhere;
    • Forms the candidate’s own contributions;
    • Have the potential for a minimum of two publications at an international level;
    • Be professionally presented with detailed and necessary supporting background.
  4. Thesis Evaluation
    The thesis shall be evaluated by a Board of Examiners comprising:

    • A Chair Person who is an academic of repute whose role will be to manage the viva, explain the rules of conduct and act as a judge if any retribution is needed after the viva;
    • An External Examiner (EE) whose background and research expertise covers the area in which the topic of the presented thesis lies;
    • A UKH Internal Examiner;
    • The Director of Studies of the PhD student in observer capacity only; his/her attendance of the board of examiners being at the discretion of the PhD candidate.

The Examination Committee shall evaluate the thesis through a viva voce examination and such other tests as are considered necessary for assessing the research work. The EE shall be given reasonable time sufficient to critically evaluate the contents of the thesis. The viva voce examination shall be conducted as early as practicable.

Admission Criteria

Admission requirements are: 

  1. MPhil/MA/MSc or any other equivalent educational certification for the degree on the basis of which admission is requested, with a minimum score of 70% or a Cum GPA of 2.7 from any recognized institution, in a field of study relating to the respective subject for which s/he is seeking admission.
  2. Minimum English Language requirement is 60 in PTE, 6.5 in IELTS or 90 in ibt-TOEFL or an equivalent GRT (Graduate Recruitment Test) level, the American postgraduate exam administered in Erbil.
  3. Research Proposal
  4. Interview 

Applicants dismissed for any reason from any university, school or college will not be considered.

Tuition Fee

$6,000 USD per academic year

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