Philanthropic Studies - PhD

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A doctoral programme in Philanthropic Studies at a leading centre of philanthropy research, teaching and public engagement. Scholars are supervised by academics with a background in practice.

Overview

There is no better time to begin a PhD in Philanthropic Studies, and no better place to do it than with the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent.

The academic field of Philanthropic Studies has grown rapidly in recent years, with demand for qualified PhD graduates outstripping current supply.

Whether you hope to embark on a research career, a teaching career, or wish to remain in practice as a philanthropy professional after completing a doctoral thesis, we can help you achieve your goals.

Our qualified PhD supervisors at Kent have a background in practice before moving into academia. All of our completed doctoral students have secured jobs that make use of their doctoral qualification.

Whilst we have a preference for those able to commit to full-time doctoral study, we can supervise people based anywhere in the world, and are open to exploring proposals from part-time candidates.

The team at Kent is led by Dr Beth Breeze - author of the annual ‘Million Pound Donor Report’, co-author of Richer Lives: Why Rich People Give, and frequent contributor to charity sector and media debates.

If you are interested in joining a thriving doctoral community, and being supervised by leading names in the field, then please get in touch: studyLSSJ@kent.ac.uk

Entry requirements

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You are more than your grades

For 2022, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Entry requirements

A good honours degree or MA, with a significant emphasis placed on understanding the relevance of this previous study and any relevant professional experience in the reasons for study provided by the applicant when submitting their application.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full time, 5 years part time

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Blackbaud, developers of software and services for non-profit organisations, is offering a partial scholarship to support an MA Philanthropic Studies student starting in September 2020. The partial scholarship will be paid towards tuition fees for the degree programme which is part-time over two years.

Find out more about the Blackbaud Scholarship including criteria and how to apply.

Search our scholarships finder for more possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at: 

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research was ranked 2nd for research power in the UK. The School was also placed 3rd for research intensity, 5th for research impact and 5th for research quality.

An impressive 94% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 99% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research, gaining the highest possible score of 100%.

Research

Research areas

The Centre for Philanthropy is one of the leading European academic centres for philanthropy research, teaching and public engagement. We conduct robust and relevant research in partnership with charity sector partners on a range of topics, including fundraising, major donors, giving circles, giving across the lifecourse, corporate philanthropy, and philanthropy’s relationship with social justice.

This research informs our teaching, in which we use innovative methods to engage with both undergraduate and postgraduate students, many of whom work in the charity sector or have ambitions to do so. Our expertise makes us a regular source of comment and analysis for the media in Britain and beyond, and we are always keen to explore new opportunities to share our work with diverse audiences. We also regularly speak to local, national and international charities to explore ways in which our research can inform their work and in turn how their experience can guide our future research.

The Centre's research projects include:

Million Pound Donors Report : Since 2008 researchers in the Centre for Philanthropy have compiled annual data on the incidence, size and destination of philanthropic donations worth £1 million or more. Case study interviews with donors who give at this level help to bring the data to life. All editions of the report are freely available on the Centre’s website. 

The New Fundraisers: Dr Beth Breeze received funding from the Leverhulme Trust for a three-year project which explored how fundraisers’ personalities interact with their professional skills to affect the amount of money they raise for good causes.

Giving Circles in the UK: in collaboration with Dr Angie Eikenberry of the University of Nebraska, this project looks at giving circles in the UK.

Beacon Project - 50 Years of Philanthropy at the University of Kent: as part of the University's 50th Anniversary celebrations, this project involved research into the history of philanthropy at and to the University, and included a number of debates on philanthopy and a major international conference

Rising to the Challenge - a study of philanthropic support for unpopular causes: this project explored the uphill struggle that some charities face when seeking to fundraise. Such charities may support issues which are complex to communicate, may have beneficaries who don't easily engage donors' emotions and may not be able to easily identify potential donors.

Social Justice Philanthropy: Implications for Policy and Practice: this study offered a critical appreciation of social justice philanthropy by investigating ‘social justice’ funders, foundation trustees and leaders. By exploring how a number of foundations and individual philanthropists pursue social justice and change, we learnt how they make judgments about what and to whom to give, what moral resources, traditions, customs and rules they draw upon in reaching their evaluation about giving, and what they mean by social justice philanthropy. The research team consisted of Balihar Sanghera and Kate Bradley.

Richer Lives: Why Rich People Give: In 2013 we worked with the author of 'Why Rich People Give', to produce a ten year update of this seminal work. Data collection is currently underway, including surveys and interviews with major donors, philanthropy advisers and other influential figures in the UK philanthropy sector.     This work is funded by The Pears Foundation, with matched funding from the University of Kent. For further information please contact the lead researchers Beth Breeze or Theresa Lloyd.

You can find out more about our work and range of publications on our website

You can also view individual staff research profiles on the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research website.

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Careers

Understanding philanthropy is a crucial skill for anyone aspiring to be effective in a role in a charity or grant-making body or as a philanthropist. The knowledge and skills that you gain through this PhD programme will equip you with an essential and highly practical understanding of the history, methodologies and impact of philanthropic activity.

Study support

As a postgraduate student at Kent you will also be a member of the Graduate School and of a community of students from a range of backgrounds, identities and experiences. Postgraduate students have access to dedicated study space with computer and printing facilities.

Graduate and Researcher College

The Graduate and Researcher College ensures that the academic and social interests of postgraduate students are provided for within the University. It works alongside academic schools to support and develop internationally distinctive, exciting and innovative programmes of study that combine academic excellence with an exceptional student experience and appropriate learning resources through the provision of:

  • high-quality postgraduate facilities
  • a supportive environment for the intellectual interests of our postgraduates
  • an excellent Researcher Development Programme
  • a strong framework of specialist support for our postgraduates across the University
  • the cultivation of external links with Research Councils, graduate schools and other organisations, both nationally and internationally, to provide further funding and study opportunities.

For more details see our Graduate and Researcher College page.

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PhD at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

E: studyLSSJ@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk