Being in Brussels to carry out my research offers me the opportunity to see the intricate mechanics of EU decision-making up close. BSIS is a small-scale school with an intimate atmosphere. This means there is ample opportunity to interact with the staff and fellow students. In other words, there is always someone to discuss your research with. The wide variety of topics that people work on make for very productive and illuminating discussions.
Brussels is an excellent place to do doctoral research. Host to hundreds of international organisations, of which the European Union and NATO are the most prominent, PhD students do research literally around the corner of important places of decision-making. This offers an array of opportunities to attend conferences with high-level policy-makers, to consult the specialised libraries of institutions like the European Commission, or to interview diplomats. The Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) seeks to create an environment not only of academic reflection, but also one where researchers and practitioners meet and exchange views. This creates a stimulating research environment for all topics in the broad field of international studies.
Degrees and practicalities
The University of Kent offers the following PhD degrees at BSIS:
• PhD in International Relations
• PhD in International Conflict Analysis
• PhD in Comparative Politics
• PhD in Political and Social Thought
• PhD in Law
All programmes can be done full-time or part-time. New PhD students enrol either in September or January. Full-time PhD students can be registered for up to a maximum of four years on a doctoral programme, but are expected to submit their doctoral dissertation as soon as possible following the completion of the third year.
At the heart of the PhD programme is the weekly research seminar (during terms). In these sessions one PhD student presents his/her research findings or latest chapter. Other PhD students and staff members give feedback. On a regular basis visiting researchers are invited to present at the research seminar. Because of the different PhD programmes and backgrounds of the academic staff, this fosters an interdisciplinary approach.
What is required to obtain a PhD
Candidates undertaking PhD degrees must submit for examination a dissertation which demonstrates their ability to undertake an original investigation, to test a hypothesis, and to understand the relationship of the theme under investigation to a wider field of knowledge. A PhD thesis is normally between 80,000 and 100,000 words. Candidates must successfully defend their PhD dissertation in a Viva.
A thesis submitted for the award of doctorate must be an original contribution to knowledge or understanding in the field of investigation. Originality is a prime requirement of a PhD thesis. This may be construed in a number of ways. It may be the application or testing of a known theory to a novel case, the utilisation of sources of information hitherto unused, the development of theory or the introduction of a new approach, or the creation of a new theoretical synthesis.
The doctoral programme, as a postgraduate research programme, combines formal research training and individual supervision, with regular interaction between students and academic staff.