Why choose this course
Boasting an international reputation and a thriving academic environment, the Department of Sociology supervises PhDs in a wide range of subjects across sociology, criminology, digital communications and related areas.
We were ranked in the top ten of sociology departments in the UK for publications in the latest 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise. And more than three quarters of our research publications were rated as first-class or internationally excellent. This reflects our strong postgraduate community, diverse research centres, research training activities, and funding successes. We're home to several prominent research centres and a number of academic journals are based in or edited from the Department.
As a postgraduate researcher in sociology at Surrey you will join a diverse community of full and part-time PhD students from the UK, the EU and around the world. Our PhD students play an important part in the life and culture of our vibrant and friendly department. In 2018-19 overall satisfaction among our Department’s PGR students in the annual Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) was 95 per cent.
We have a global reputation for our expertise and innovation in a wide range of research methods, from qualitative and ethnographic work to statistical analysis of large and complex data sets, and online research and social simulation. As a PhD student you will be provided with the opportunity to undertake in-depth methodology training via a range of optional taught courses.
As a department we are renowned for our applied approach, something reflected in the way we work in partnership with a range of private, public and third-sector organisations. This includes the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Police Dependants’ Trust.
What you will study
Exactly what you'll study will depend on the topic of your PhD. We can supervise a wide range of areas relating to criminology, sociology and digital communications - please see the ‘Themes and Facilities’ tab for a full list.
The PhD course centres on close individual tuition and guidance from your supervisory team, comprising a principal supervisor, a co-supervisor and, in some cases, an additional third supervisor. Supervisors offer advice, feedback and guidance on all aspects of the PhD process, as well as - where appropriate - on career and CV development and research dissemination through publications and conference papers.
We formally review your progress twice a year, offering the opportunity for medium and longer-term research planning, the identification of training needs, and provision of CV and career advice. Progress reviews also offer you the opportunity to raise any queries, concerns or suggestions. Close to the end of your first year, you will complete a PhD Confirmation process in which you will receive detailed feedback and guidance on your work from staff outside your supervisory team.
You will also attend a range of courses, workshops, seminars, conferences and other events as appropriate to your project. As well as offering training in research skills or different aspects of the PhD process, such events offer opportunities for you to present your work to one another or exchange findings and ideas with staff or external speakers.
You will also have the option to take relevant modules from our MSc courses in Social Research Methods or Criminology and Social Research in your first year of study, to extend and deepen your field of knowledge.
Establishing a vibrant academic environment where PhD students develop supportive relationships with one another and with staff is central to our approach. In addition to close one-to-one mentoring and tuition from supervisors, you will benefit from a range of bespoke departmental events.
Doctoral students can also 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 where you can benefit from the extensive central resources and research training opportunities provided by the University’s Doctoral College.
You will be strongly encouraged to attend external conferences and other training events relevant to your work. You'll have access to an annual allowance to cover the cost of events like these as well as other research expenses.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
- Age and ageing
- Computational social science
- Crime prevention
- Criminology and criminal justice
- Digital media technologies and society
- Environment and sustainability
- Everyday consumption and food
- Families and parenting
- Gender and sexualities
- Hate crime
- Health and illness
- Higher education
- Identity and difference
- Media and communications
- Methodological innovations and developments
- Race, ethnicity and migration
- Sociology of sleep
- Science and science policy
- Youth and youth cultures
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Sociology.
PhD students have access to office space, PCs and a range of research tools and resources, from transcription equipment to data analysis software.
Applicants are expected to hold at least an upper second-class honours degree in sociology or a related discipline.
View entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).
We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
For fees payable in 2018/19, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
We will be offering over 150 Doctoral College studentships for outstanding prospective postgraduate researchers starting in October 2020.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.