World-leaders in development studies

IDS is a leading global institution for development research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex. The University of Sussex is ranked first in the world for development studies. This QS World Ranking reflects the strong reputation and quality of research and course offerings across campus, including by IDS.

Research at IDS

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, conflict, digital, gender, governance, green transformations, 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 organizations such as UNDP and the World Bank, civil servants, leaders of civil society organizations 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.

Thriving research community

The Institute is home to approximately 240 staff and 260 students at any one time. But the IDS community extends far beyond, encompassing an extensive network of over 360 partners,3,000 alumni and hundreds of former staff. All PhD researchers are an integral part of this community and have access to research, knowledge, communication and teaching opportunities and engagement with the IDS staff, as well as a substantial series of seminars presented by leading development professionals and practitioners.

Supervision and assessment

Each PhD researcher has a minimum of two supervisors. During the application process, you will identify your preferred supervisors. Potential supervisors can be identified by searching our directory.The number of hours of formal supervision will vary over the course of the PhD depending on the student, supervisor, and type of research. IDS publishes a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out expectations regarding supervision. During the course of your PhD, you are expected to give two seminars to the IDS community. The first, at the end of Year One is called the Research Outline Seminar and this provides an overview of your PhD plans prior to beginning fieldwork. The second occurs halfway through Year 3. This is called the Work in Progress Seminar and it focuses on the research findings and overall arguments made in the dissertation.

Your PhD course is examined by dissertation and viva. The thesis must be no longer than 80,000 words. These limits include footnotes and bibliography but excludes any appendices.

“IDS offers doctoral researchers an enriching environment with access to a broad range of experts with different disciplinary backgrounds. The IDS community is always bustling with energy and a commitment to answering difficult questions and this makes it an exciting place in which to undertake research. I feel particularly blessed to be among a supportive group of peers who offer guidance at every turn.” Dina Zayed, IDS PhD scholarship researcher

Program taught in:
  • English (US)
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Request Info
15,100 GBP
for overseas students
Request Info
We consider applications throughout the year
By locations
By date
Start Date
End Date
Application deadline
Request Info
We consider applications throughout the year
Application deadline
Request Info
We consider applications throughout the year
End Date

PhD by Research