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Key information

Qualification type

PhD/DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

Subject areas

Social Research Methods Development Politics Sustainability Development Economics Research Methods (Science)

Course type


Course Summary


World-leaders in development studies

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a global research and learning organisation for equitable and sustainable change. In partnership with the University of Sussex, IDS is ranked first in the world for development studies by the QS University Rankings.

Doctoral research at IDS

Doctoral research is a vital part of IDS, with about 50 PhD students at any time exploring a range of topics in Asia, Africa, the Balkans, Latin America and the Middle East. Students work under the supervision of two Research Fellows and have access to the thriving community of research centres, knowledge programmes, postgraduate courses, training, lectures and seminars.

Our distinct approach to research

IDS is dedicated to research on processes of social, political and economic development and change in order to understand problems of poverty and development-related issues in local, national and global realms. Through our research we seek to achieve our vision of equal and sustainable societies, both locally and globally, where everyone can live secure, fulfilling lives free from poverty and injustice.

Our research is shaped by our distinctive ‘engaged excellence’ approach. This means that the quality and impact of our work depends upon us collaborating with governments, international NGOs, local civil society, citizens, in-country researchers, donors, businesses and many others to achieve positive change, strategically informed by high quality and operationally relevant - research and evidence.

Areas of study

We are looking for PhD researchers interested in working on projects that respond to the following global challenges and their intersections:

  • reducing inequalities
  • accelerating sustainability
  • building inclusive and secure societies.

We are particularly interested in work that shows originality in addressing topics related to the work of our research clusters, namely: business, cities, digital, governance, health, participation, power, resource politics and rural futures.

Future careers

IDS PhD researchers have gone on to work as Ministers in national governments, high-level officials in development organisations such as UNDP and the World Bank, civil servants, leaders of civil society organisations including Mama Cash and Action Aid and high profile academics at universities across the world. They are all working to define and solve some of the world’s most pressing global challenges. Your time at IDS will equip you with both the theoretical knowledge, research methodologies and practical skills to make a real difference in bringing about transformative change.

Different course options

Full time | Institute of Development Studies | 3 years | SEP-20

Study mode

Full time


3 years

Start date



The thesis must be no longer than 80,000 words.

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


International fees
Course fees for non-UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


Entry requirements

You should have a strong academic record and graduate training demonstrating a high standard of achievement, combined with substantial professional work experience in a developing country or in development-related work. Only in exceptional circumstances will candidates with other backgrounds may be considered. You’re normally expected to have a merit (an overall average of 60 per cent) in a masters degree. As well as having methodological and theoretical grounding in one of the social science disciplines, you will have the language skills necessary for the proposed research.