PhD Cultural Politics

Conduct original research in a diverse breadth of topics with Buckingham's PhD in Cultural Politics, based at our London offices.

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Course overview

  • 2024
  • 2025
  • Full-time
  • Sep, 3 Years
  • Sep, 6 Years
  • Jan, 3 Years
  • Jan, 6 Years
  • Apr, 3 Years
  • Apr, 6 Years
  • Research
  • Research
  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • From £8,267 per year*
  • From £4,133 per year*
  • From £8,267 per year*
  • From £4,133 per year*
  • From £14,500 per year*
  • From £7,250 per year*
  • From £14,500 per year*
  • From £7,250 per year*
  • London
  • London
  • *See below for full fee information

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    About the course

    The PhD in Cultural Politics is an advanced research degree, awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral viva voce examination. The primary purpose of the PhD is the preparation and presentation of a substantial piece of independent and original academic research, completed in three years if studying full-time and usually six years if studying part-time. There is also the possibility of early submission in cases where the student makes particularly rapid progress.

    There is an enormously broad range of possible thesis subjects in cultural politics. This could range from questions of nationalism and populism, to problems of liberalisation and value change to the rise of the cultural left to culture wars to issues or those of political demography. Religion and politics is also within our purview. While the central interest is the modern West, those seeking to venture further back in time or explore non-Western societies are also welcome to apply. Given sufficient evidence to illuminate it, almost any thesis that involves a cultural and political dimension may potentially form an appropriate focus of study. The definition of the PhD subject is an iterative process, and it is usual for the candidate’s first thoughts on the topic to be modified in the course of the first year of study.

    A large proportion of our PhD students are engaged in full-time study, but there is also an option for part-time study where this fits better with a student’s other commitments. Part-time study can be ideal for those who are looking to gain a postgraduate qualification without leaving employment and wish to develop their careers while they continue earning, or for those who are home-based for whatever reason and wish to develop their skills. All students are expected to engage with the academic life of the University, to attend skills-training meetings where these are relevant, as well as research seminars and workshops.

    PhD students are expected to attend the fortnightly Politics of Cultural Conflict research seminar – and are encouraged to attend other seminars that may be relevant to their research. These provide an opportunity for PhD students to share their work with their peers, and to engage with visiting experts in their field. The seminar itself features a mix of staff and guest speakers covering subjects such as the origin and motivations of nationalism, rise of national populism, evolution of the cultural left, and increase in polarization and fragmentation in western societies and party systems.

    The University of Buckingham PhD is intended to impart all the skills necessary for the student to work as an independent researcher and writer – skills that are valued by both academic and non-academic employers. But the PhD can be undertaken just as fulfillingly as an exercise in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and as a means of exploring areas of enquiry that are of particular interest to the student. A number of our most successful student researchers are those who take up doctoral study at the end of a successful career in a different field or profession.

    Study period

    The usual period of doctoral research is three years for the those who engage in full-time study, though the University’s Regulations also permit candidates who make particularly rapid progress to apply to the University Research Committee for permission to submit at the end of their second year of study. Part-time study is also available, with students completing the dissertation in five or six years.


    Every PhD student in School of Humanities is supported by two supervisors. Supervisors are experts in their field of study and support students throughout the PhD. Students will also benefit from the advice and support of other academic members of the Faculty who will be involved in progression through the various stages of the PhD, including Annual Review meetings with a senior professor (where progress is monitored and support offered towards the planning of the next period of study).

    Each student is allocated two supervisors. There is a First (or Principal) Supervisor, who is the student’s regular guide during his or her research, and with whom the student meets regularly throughout the year. There is also a Second Supervisor, whom the student may consult on a more limited basis where a ‘second opinion’ on a particular draft chapter may be helpful.

    Members of the academic staff who are available to undertake supervision in the field of Cultural Politics include:

    Professor Eric Kaufmann – Professor Kaufmann, formerly a Lecturer at the University of Southampton and Professor at Birkbeck, University of London for 24 years, has supervised dissertations to completion in nationalism, ethnicity and religious politics, and political demography, and served as an examiner for 16 dissertations at other universities. He is interested in the politics of the culture wars, polarisation and both the cultural left and populist right. Methodologically he can supervise quantitative, qualitative or historical-archival dissertations.

    Dr. Rakib Ehsan – Dr. Ehsan specialises in matters of social cohesion, race relations, and public security, focusing on Britain. He uses both quantitative and qualitative methods in his research.

    Dr. Neema Parvini – Dr. Parvini is an expert in elite theory, political economy and aspects of the politics of culture. He is the author of eight books including The Prophets of Doom (2023), The Populist Delusion (2022), The Defenders of Liberty (2020) and Shakespeare’s Moral Compass (2018).
    Dr. Dan Pitt – Dr. Pitt is an expert in political history and theory, especially the history and dynamics of the Conservative Party. He focuses on archival and qualitative methods.

    More information

    Enquiries should be directed in the first instance to our Admissions Officer (London Programmes), Mrs Lin Robinson, at or by telephone to +44 (0)1280 827514. It is usually also possible to speak with the Course Directors in your chosen area of research in advance of submitting your application: please contact Mrs Lin Robinson to arrange this.

    Further information about the range of seminar topics and speakers for the coming year can be found in the downloadable brochure which can be found below.

    View course modules


    Entry requirements

    Applicants are normally expected to have a first or upper second-class degree or significant relevant experience. Age is usually an irrelevancy and the University of Buckingham’s current doctoral students range in age from those in their twenties to those in their seventies. Academic ability is the only criterion regarded as relevant.

    Wherever possible, students are encouraged to begin their studies at the start of the academic year (in September), in order to be in step with their peers. Where this is not possible, however, entry points exist at the start of each academic term.

    Mature students

    Age is no barrier to learning and we welcome all applications from all suitably qualified students. The University is committed to lifelong learning, and students joining the PhD programme will encounter a wide variety of age-ranges among their peers.

    International students

    We are happy to consider all international applications and if you are an international student, you may find it useful to visit our international pages for details of entry requirements from your home country.

    The University is a UKVI Student Sponsor.

    English levels

    If English is not your first language, please check our postgraduate English language requirements.

    Selection process

    Candidates apply online, sending in their supporting documents, and will be assessed on this basis by the Tutor for Graduate Admissions and the Course Directors. For help in applying, please contact Mrs Lin Robinson in the Admissions Office on She can also arrange for you to discuss your research proposal informally with the Course Directors in advance of your submitting the formal application.

    Student Contract for prospective students

    When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the student contract between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University, a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the student contract in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the student contract contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting an offer. Further details are available online: Read the Student Contract.

    Teaching and assessment

    PhD students undertake supervised but independent research, at the end of which they submit a thesis embodying the results of that research. The length of the dissertation should not be fewer than 80,000 words and no longer than 100,000 words of text (excluding the thesis-abstract, appendices, footnotes, tables, and bibliography).

    This thesis must demonstrate familiarity with, and an understanding of the subject, its principal sources and authorities. It should display critical discrimination and a sense of proportion in evaluating evidence and the judgements of others. A PhD thesis must embody an original contribution to the knowledge of the discipline either by the discovery of new knowledge or by the exercise of a new and independent critical approach.

    After your course

    The University’s Course Directors, students’ supervisors, and the Research Officer and Tutor for Graduate Students are available to discuss students’ post-graduation plans and how they may utilise most effectively the skills acquired during their studies.

    Course fees

    The fees for this course are:

    StartType1st YearTotal cost
    Month Year
    Full-time (2 Years)
    Month Year
    Full-time (2 Years)

    The University reserves the right to increase course fees annually in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI). If the University intends to increase your course fees it will notify you via email of this as soon as reasonably practicable.

    Course fees do not include additional costs such as books, equipment, writing up fees and other ancillary charges. Where applicable, these additional costs will be made clear.

    Postgraduate loan scheme

    A system of postgraduate loans for Masters’ degrees in the UK is supported by the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £11,222 for taught and research Masters’ courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.


    Details of scholarships can be found on our Bursaries and Scholarships page. You should make an application to study at the University and receive an offer letter confirming our acceptance of your application before applying for a scholarship. You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.


    Due to the mode of study on this course you will not normally need a room in University accommodation during your degree. However, if you require short-term accommodation in Buckingham we would be happy to provide a list of local bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. Alternatively, please contact our Accommodation Office for advice.

    How to apply

    Apply direct

    Apply online from this page as:

    • The most flexible option.
    • You can apply until shortly before the course starts.
    • There are no application fees.

    You can apply directly through our website by clicking the ‘Apply now’ button below.