Key information


PhD History and Politics

Types of study

Full time / Part time


3 years full time;6 years part time

Start date

February or September each year

Programme overview

The PhD in International Studies is a programme of doctoral study for students who would like to undertake advanced research in preparation for an academic or related career. The PhD programme can be taken full-time over 3 years (for primary research) plus up to one year for writing up of the thesis, or part-time over 6 years for primary research plus up to 2 years for writing up. If admitted to this degree, students will conduct their own research under the guidance of two academic supervisors, one based at the University’s China campus and another at the UK campus. Graduates will be awarded a University of Nottingham UK degree, which is also recognised by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Taking a research degree allows you the freedom to study a topic of interest in-depth, with the help of two academic supervisors. The School's international environment and its world-class research provide an ideal home for postgraduate research. Please see the areas of supervision offered by staff members of the School.

PhD students are encouraged to play an active role in the School's activities and events, as well as in the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies (IAPS), which is based at the School. IAPS seminars and other School research events provide a major part of the intellectual life of the School. The School and IAPS also offer an ideal framework for students to undertake supervised research by attracting Visiting Fellows from other leading universities and guest speakers from across the globe, as well as hosting a wide range of events, conferences and workshops.

Research interests

The School of International Studies welcomes applications from prospective PhD students in the following areas.

Foreign Policy History International Relations Theories and Global Studies China Studies

Soft power

Public and cultural diplomacy


The role and effect of the media in international relations and foreign policy 

Political communication 

Belt and Road Initiative and new world making

Belt and Road Initiative and global governance

China - Central and Eastern Europe relations

China - Europe relations

China - Central Asia relations

China - India relations

Humanitarian intervention 


UN peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peacebuidling

Canada/United Kingdom foreign policy

Evolving Space programs and policies in Asia in comparison

Comparative Politics

Foreign Policy Analysis

Regional Order/Regional Integration

International Political Economy

International Trade and International Relations

Technology and International Relations

Chinese foreign policy

China-US relations

China-Southeast Asian Relations

China-Koreas Relations

China-Japan Relations

US foreign policy

Canada Foreign Policy

UK Foreign Policy

EU Foreign Policy

Russian Foreign Policy

International Security Studies

Traditional and Non-Traditional Security Studies

Global, Imperial and Transnational history from the early modern period through Decolonisation

Late Medieval, Early Modern and Modern European History

China, Japan and Northeast Asia

The Middle East

Europe – Asia relations

Historical International Relations

Economic and Trade history

Social and Cultural History

History of Political and Social Thought

Christianity and Mission

History of Childhood and Welfare

Gender and Agency

International Relations theory beyond the West 

International Relations and climate change

Imagining the past to frame the future of global order

Sub-state actors/non-central governments engaging in international affairs

Transnationalism/transnational politics

Classical realism/Neoclassical realism

Platforms and the reconstruction of digitalized orders

Migrant identity, belonging and settlement

Migration of healthcare workers, especially from South and Southeast Asian countries

Feminization of migration, transnational families and the ‘global care chain’

Human agency and social/gender inequality

Diasporic cultural practices

International Relations Theory

Realism (replace classical realism)




Cultural Politics of contemporary China

Meat consumption and reduction in China

Nationalism and national identity in China

China's cultural diplomacy post 1949-present day

Infrastructures and Chinese investments in the Global South

The role of history and historical narratives in Chinese foreign policy and diplomacy

Construction of a „global China”

Chinese Foreign Policy

Chinese International Relations History

China's Approach to FTA/IPE/Trade Policy



Please also check the staff listings for detailed research expertise of members of the School.

Programme structure introduction


In the course of their PhD, students will not only complete an academically recognised work of independent research, they will also gain a large set of academic and transferable skills, such as world-leading expertise in a specific field and particular methodological techniques. Supervisors will discuss training needs with each research student at the start of their studies and draw up a programme of individually tailored training which will be reviewed and revised during their research degree. The University's Graduate School offers a broad and comprehensive range of research training courses and Doctoral Training Centres based at the University provide more specific events and training opportunities. The School also occasionally organises workshops on particular methodological approaches and issues, such as oral history or statistical analysis. Close cooperation with the School of Politics and the Department of History in Nottingham allow students to draw on an even wider range of training opportunities, for instance through events co-organised with the Methods and Data Institute (

Postgraduate Research Seminar

A weekly Postgraduate Research Student Seminar runs during term time and brings the research student community together on a regular basis. Organised by students and facilitated by the Doctoral Programme Director, it provides a supportive forum for presenting work in progress and advancing students’ research.

Career Prospects and Employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity in the School of International Studies will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to their area of research, students will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Career Support. Individual guidance appointments, career management training programmes, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops are just some of the ways in which they can help students develop their full potential, whether they choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia. 

Entry requirements

Applicants for research programmes would normally be expected to a bachelor degree at Upper Second Class level and have graduated or be about to graduate from a Masters degree (at Merit level) in a relevant subject, with an average of over 60% (or its equivalent). 

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all elements)
  • PTE Academics: 71 (minimum 65)
  • TOEFL (IBT): 87 (minimum 20 in Speaking and 19 in all other elements)

* Grades/scores are valid for a maximum period of two years prior to the date of registration.

Applicants from the following countries or have studied for a degree there (excl. split site degree programmes) are NOT required to submit any further evidence of English language ability:

  • Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica;
  • New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; United Kingdom; United States of America.

How to apply

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees are adjusted annually and are set for each individual degree. Please follow the Gradaute School's fee information for details.


The School awards a full PhD scholarship once a year. Note that competition for this scholarship is very strong and students are advised to explore additional external sources of funding. Please see the University's PhD scholarships pages for further information. For further details about the School’s scholarship scheme, please contact the Doctoral Programme Director, Dr. Rosaria Franco (Email:

More information

If you are considering applying to the School’s PhD programme please contact the Doctoral Programme Director, Dr. Rosaria Franco (Email:  to discuss areas of research and potential supervision.

Student Recruitment and Admission Office (before application submission)

Room 231, Trent Building
University of Nottingham Ningbo China
199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, 315100, China

T. +86 (0) 574 8818 0182

Graduate School (after application submission)

Room 451-2, Trent Building
University of Nottingham Ningbo China
199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, 315100, China