Postgraduate Research

The Department of Politics Philosophy and Religion (PPR) at Lancaster University is an excellent place to complete postgraduate research.

The PhD programme is offered in the Department’s three disciplines of

  • Politics and International Relations
  • Philosophy
  • Religion

As you will see from our current research outputs, a number of academics in the Department are developing creative interdisciplinary links and we are keen to also attract PhD candidates with a similar interdisciplinary focus.

The Department is the largest within the University's highly ranked Faculty of Arts and Social Science and offers many attractions benefits and opportunities to the Postgraduate researcher.

  • engage in research under the supervision of key scholars in one of Britain's leading research Universities
  • a wide range of research interests
  • study the many aspects of your chosen discipline
  • develop skills and abilities useful to you in both your academic studies and future career
  • a lively and cosmopolitan graduate school
  • a first class library and excellent IT facilities
  • a safe, attractive and well designed campus, with a purpose-built graduate college
  • proximity to some of Britain's most beautiful countryside

Reflecting its wide range of expertise, the Department has a lively research culture including regular departmental and PhD seminars together with annual Graduate Presentation Days where research students present work in progress to fellow students and staff. In addition, research students are encouraged to participate in the regular Faculty-wide workshops, presentations and training sessions. The University also has a wide range of other programmes that research students are welcome to attend, and we encourage all researchers to make links to other departments in the faculty as well as to departments and research centres in other faculties.

The Department is a member of both the ESRC funded North West Doctoral Training College contributing to the Politics in a Global World and Security Conflict and Justice pathways, and the AHRC funded North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership , supporting PhD research in Philosophy and in Religious Studies. 

If you choose to come to Lancaster, we offer you an experience that will be academically stimulating and rewarding, in a friendly and attractive environment. To apply for PhD study in PPR please complete the online application.

As you will appreciate we have considerable demand for places on our PhD programme. We only consider applications which have research proposals for PhD study that are coherent and fully worked up.
Therefore, we expect proposals to
a. Set out a clear rationale for the project with a sense of what the claim for a contribution to knowledge will likely be;
b. include a literature review that establishes the context of the project in its discipline(s);
c. have a clear statement about method and how this plays out into an (initial) plan for the project's execution;
d. propose an initial plan for the shape of the overall thesis;
e. and include a fully worked up academic bibliography (reflecting the references throughout the above).
There is not necessarily one way of doing all this, but all of these elements need to be present and clearly developed for PPR to regard the proposal as worthy of consideration.
Where these are not present, we will normally ask the PG office to contact you & ask you to work with a member of staff in PPR (as prospective supervisor) to develop the proposal further before we formally consider it.

Currently PPR staff are particularly interested in receiving proposals in the following areas: 

Karolina Follis is especially interested in supervising projects that:

  • explore the contemporary governance of international borders and its relationship to migration politics, particularly in Europe and its neighbouring regions;
  • focus on the contemporary politics of human rights, particularly in relation to global migrations and the movements of refugees;
  • apply ethnographic research methods to the study of politics, social movements, civil society, policy, bureaucracy, security and governance. 

Basil Germond is especially interested in supervising projects that:

  • tackle the maritime dimension of security, including with regard to maritime security, ocean governance, maritime strategy, maritime geopolitics, and naval affairs/navies;
  • explore the concept of seapower, including its evolution and relevance in the 21st century;
  • frame the study of the ocean as a space and a place;
  • explore the links between climate change (and its impacts on natural and human systems) and maritime security (e.g. incentives to engage in illegal fishing or piracy);
  • apply corpus linguistics methods to the study of 1) the representation/construction of the sea/ocean and 2) the narrative and practice of seapower and maritime security;

Matthew Johnson is especially interested in supervising projects that:

  • Examine the links between health, inequality and Universal Basic Income
  • Explore political means of fostering national identity, Britishness and political ideology and its potential relations to/with Northerness.
  • Analyse the relationship between culture, cultural diversity and human wellbeing 

Richard Johnson is especially interested in supervising PhD dissertations that focus on:

  • the endurance of civil rights laws in changing US partisan landscapes;
  • on the development and deployment of campaign strategies and political communications in British and American elections.

Sarah Marsden is especially interested in supervising PhD dissertations that focus on:

  • terrorism and political violence with a particular focus on militant Islamism and religious nationalism;
  • 'radicalisation' and the psychological and sociological processes associated with involvement in violent politics;
  • social movements, activism and protest, in particular the role of ideology and identity in political contention. 

Martin Steven is especially interested in supervising PhD dissertations that focus on:

  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to build a new type of pro-European party grouping in the European Parliament after the 2019 elections, specifically the attempt to form a ‘common front’ against Euro-scepticism in Strasbourg?

Alison Stone is especially interested in supervising projects that:

  • Utilise feminist philosophy, to examine the nature of sex, gender and embodiment;
  • Explore the links between German idealism and the philosophy of nature;
  • Build links between philosophy and popular music.

Astrid Nordin is especially interested in supervising projects that:

  • Focus on China in the modern world;
  • Draw on non-western traditions of thought, especially Chinese traditions like Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, and theorisations of relationality, friendship, harmony, and civilisation;
  • Explore questions relating to time, space, and multiplicity; identity, gender, and nationalism; foreign policy, dissidence, and online cultures;
  • Apply critical discourse, visual, narrative, and ethnographic research methods in creative and interdisciplinary ways.

Rachel Cooper is especially interested in supervising projects that: 

  • Are connected to the philosophy of psychiatry, including concepts of disorder, issues connected to classification, explanation in psychiatry, social epistemology, conceptual issues related to specific diagnoses, and is particularly keen to supervise projects that involve combining history and philosophy of psychiatry.
  • Are based on the philosophy of medicine and focus on issues connected to concepts of health, disorder, disease, disability, recovery.

Sam Clark is especially interested in supervising projects that:

• focus on well-being
• explore the philosophy of autobiography
• look at the roles and powers of narrative in human life
• focus on the self and self-knowledge
• consider the philosophy of war and martial life


To find the more general research interests of PPR staff please see the staff list.

While members of staff welcome informal contacts from potential PhD students to discuss proposed research, applications will not be considered until they are submitted with full documentation via the online system.

All funding applications require a formal offer in the Department to proceed.


Professor Christopher May
Director of Postgraduate Studies