Sociology PhD

Why choose this course?

The Department of Sociology has an international reputation for research and teaching and boasts a thriving academic environment.

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 world-leading or internationally excellent. This reflects our strong postgraduate community, diverse research centres, research training activities, and funding successes.

We have expertise in a wide range of substantive areas and theoretical approaches across sociology, criminology and related areas. We are host to several prominent research centres and a number of prestigious academic journals are based in or edited from the Department.

As a postgraduate researcher in Sociology at Surrey you will join a richly diverse community of full and part-time PhD students from the UK, the EU and around the world. Our PhD students play a important part in the life and culture of our vibrant and friendly Department.

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 ways we work in partnership with a range of private, public and third-sector organisations including 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

The PhD programme 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 via publications and conference papers.

Progress is reviewed formally 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.

In addition to individual supervision 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 students to present their 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 whereby PhD students develop supportive and valuable relationships with one another as well as with staff in the Department 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 and our students benefit from the extensive central resources and research training opportunities provided by the University’s Doctoral College.

We strongly encourage students to attend external conferences and other training events relevant to their work and they have access to an annual allowance to cover the cost of such events as well as other research expenses.

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 48 months July
PhD Full-time 48 months October
PhD Full-time 48 months January
PhD Full-time 48 months April
PhD Part-time 96 months January
PhD Part-time 96 months April
PhD Part-time 96 months July
PhD Part-time 96 months October
Stag Hill

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.

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).

Our students

  • Emily Setty, PhD Sociology

    "I have loved doing my PhD. I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage in critical discussions in which I have been challenged and encouraged to developed my own interests and directions."

    Read more

  • Luke Hubbard, PhD Sociology

    "My experience of studying for a PhD at Surrey so far has been nothing but positive. The Department is friendly and always willing to help and assist in any way they can. The facilities are great, and opportunities for personal development are endless."

    Read more

  • Melissa Pepper, PhD Sociology

    "My supervisors offer advice and support on practical elements of my research. They have taken the time to understand what I want from my PhD, both during my studies and after, and as such can tailor their support and advice accordingly."

    Read more


Research themes

  • Criminology and criminal justice
  • Policing
  • Hate crime
  • Digital media cultures
  • Methodological innovations and developments
  • Gender and sexualities
  • Family and parenting
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Education
  • Crime prevention
  • Health and illness
  • Sociology of sleep
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Youth
  • Prisons
  • Age and ageing
  • Science and science policy
  • Computational methods
  • Identity and difference
  • Media, culture and communication

Research facilities

PhD students have access to office space, PCs and a range of research tools and resources, from transcription equipment to data analysis software.

Entry requirements

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.

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.

Selection process

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time July £4,195 £16,000
Full-time October To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full-time January £4,195 £16,000
Full-time April £4,195 £16,000
Part-time January £2,100 £8,000
Part-time April £2,100 £8,000
Part-time July £2,100 £8,000
Part-time October To be confirmed To be confirmed

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/18 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Funding and studentships

Doctoral College Studentship Award

Supervisor(s) To be confirmed
Funding Doctoral College, University of Surrey
Application deadline 13 November 2017
Opportunities across all subjects

Contact us

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

  • Register for a Postgraduate Research Webinar