Department of Sociology

Postgraduate research

Providing doctoral education for the next generation of empirical sociologists is a departmental priority, through broadly-based and methodologically rigorous applied sociological research training, the Department of Sociology provides a vibrant, intellectually stimulating and supportive environment for doctoral students

High quality supervision is provided by internationally renowned specialists. Our thriving group of over 50 doctoral students benefit from regular postgraduate seminars and workshops, day conferences, and interaction with international visitors. Facilities are excellent and doctoral students have opportunities to undertake paid undergraduate teaching.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise more than three quarters of our research publications were rated as world leading or internationally excellent and all of it was recognized internationally, placing us in the top 10 UK based Sociology departments. A particular area of strength is research methodology.

We were also praised for our research environment, which was rated joint 6th in the country. This reflects our strong postgraduate community, diverse research centres, research training activities, and funding successes.

As a leading national centre for the advancement of social research, we provide state of the art research methodology training through our MSc in Social Research Methods, Day Courses in Social Research, and CRESS (Centre for Research on Social Simulation). Doctoral students study in a friendly and vibrant environment at the forefront of methodological developments.

Research areas

The Sociology Department has particular strengths in:

The spread of topics being studied by doctoral students can be seen under Doctoral Research page.

Expert support

Research students enjoy a lively, intellectually-supportive atmosphere, with their own excellent office and IT facilities.

Students have a principal supervisor and a co-supervisor and in some cases may have an additional third supervisor. Supervisors provide guidance and support through regular supervision, and extensive verbal and written feedback on students' work.

Where appropriate, full-time doctoral students have the opportunity to spend part of the first year taking relevant Masters courses from our MSc courses in Social Research Methods or Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research. Students are also supported by a carefully designed programme of fortnightly postgraduate workshops and a Day School once a year. Doctoral students can attend the Department's Day Courses in Social Research and the extensive range of courses run by the CAQDAS Networking project.

There is also an extensive Researcher Development Programme run at university level.

Funding opportunities

We are inviting applications from excellent candidates for PhD studentships covering fees and maintenance for October 2016 entry.

Areas of study

We welcome applications from prospective doctoral students in a wide range of subject areas within sociology and related areas such as criminology and media. We cover a range of substantive areas and research methods, including qualitative research approaches, mixed methods, statistical analysis of large and complex datasets and social simulation. Key research areas include:

  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Developments in Methodology
  • Identities, Diversities, and the Life Course
  • Media, Culture and Communication
  • Science, Environment and Technologies

For more details about our research areas, please visit our research pages, or browse individual staff interests or current PhD students on our people pages.

Types of studentships

We offer two types of studentships for a PhD in Sociology:

ESRC South East Doctoral Training Centre studentships

The South East DTC offers ESRC- funded PhD studentships to top-quality Home (UK) or EU students. These can take the form of ‘+3’ studentships (PhD only) or ‘1+3’ (MSc plus PhD) and cover tuition fees and maintenance. For further information and application process/forms please see http://www.surrey.ac.uk/fass/research/studentships/esrc/index.htm

Internal Studentships

These university-funded studentships are available for top-quality Home, EU or International students, covering tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and maintenance at current research-council rates for a full-time or part-time PhD.

Unsuccessful ESRC DTC candidates can be considered for the internal studentship competition without a separate application. In the case of eligible Home and EU students, you should apply for the ESRC DTC studentship in the first instance – there is no need to do two separate applications. Please note, however, that internal studentships are PhD-only – they do not include a Masters year.

Candidates who are ineligible for the ESRC studentships (e.g. international students) who wish to apply for an internal studentship should apply for this using the same procedure and forms as for the ESRC DTC studentships. Please indicate on the form that you are not eligible for an ESRC studentship and are applying for an internal studentship instead. Note that, while international students are eligible for internal studentships, fees are paid at the Home/EU rate and the student must make up the difference.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold at least an upper second-class honours degree in sociology or a related discipline. Candidates applying for a +3 studentship (PhD only) are also expected to have or be currently completing a relevant Masters degree. Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently confirmed as having PhD status. Non-native speakers of English are required to have IELTS 7.0 or above.

Please note that, in addition to their studentship application, all candidates must have separately applied for a PhD in Sociology at Surrey.

Details of Doctoral Programme

Doctoral students are extensively supported through regular supervision, a programme of regular postgraduate workshops, seminars and day schools and a variety of other training opportunities. They may take modules from the MSc Social Research Methods or the MSc Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research and can attend in-house day courses in social research (about 20 per year), including the extensive range of courses run by the Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) project.

For more details of our Doctoral Programme please see the programme summary or our Department postgraduate research pages