Accessibility statement

MPhil and PhD in Sociology

 We encourage PhD and MPhil applicants from all over the world to join us in one of the best departments for sociological research in the UK.

Why York?

Why York?

  • We have an excellent record of doctoral research
  • Research in the Department is focussed around four research clusters and research units
  • We have an international reputation for research excellence and methodical and theoretical innovation
  • There is a significant concentration of research expertise within the department, and a number of research fellows and graduate students working in related projects
  • You can choose whether to work with a particular member of staff on independent research or you can conduct your research within one of the department's research units. (You would still have a specific supervisor allocated to you)
  • We are successful at generating substantial research income from national and international funding agencies
  • We have a dedicated postgraduate research centre which includes desk, social and kitchen space helping to foster our postgraduate community.
  • We offer full-time and part-time programmes as well as options to study on campus or as a distance learner. Whichever mode of attendance you select, the degree certificate will be the same.


Recent Postgraduate Research themes

Our postgraduate research themes are richly varied, highlighting the department’s extensive research areas. Recent research areas have included:

  • Feminism and agency
  • LGBT Equality
  • Digital communications and identities
  • Sociology of health and illness
  • Political Sociology
  • Future studies
  • Sociology of the paranormal
  • Urban Sociology

View our full list of current research student research areas here.



All students are allocated a supervisor at the beginning of the first academic year; normally student and supervisor(s) will already have met or corresponded before admission.  Where relevant to the student’s research interest, a second supervisor from the Department may be appointed.

As well as the main supervisor(s), a Thesis Advisory Panel (TAP) will be appointed, to monitor students’ progress towards completion and offer advice where necessary.  The supervisor/supervisee relationships will have a major influence on the progress of the research.  The learning process should be two-way, from which you should both benefit.  However, a supervisor should help to maintain and develop a student’s intellectual interests, offering new perspectives on the research topic, drawing attention to new work in the area, providing appropriate academic contacts, giving notice of useful conferences and seminars, and advice on publication.  The supervisor will direct students to relevant short courses offered in other departments, and by university service departments.  The supervisor should also help the student in the planning and organising of his or her time. 

Distance Learning Programmes

For postgraduate researchers undertaking their programme by distance learning, please note that most supervisions will take place remotely using video-conferencing (e.g., Zoom).  However, there is an expectation that distance learners will attend campus for five consecutive days per year (full-time) or biannually (part-time). This period of attendance would typically coincide with the induction period (generally mid to late September or early January) in the first year. In subsequent years, on-campus visits should coincide with the postgraduate conference held in the summer period (typically, June or July). 


All research students take part in transferable skills training which develops competence in communication skills, career management, networking and team building and personal effectiveness. It is expected that students will take six days of training per year which will be selected from the generic transferable skills courses offered by the University’s Graduate Training Office. The Department also runs courses of one, half day or two day courses (or equivalents) which provide training in sociology subject specific transferable skills. 


Second Year PhD students organise and run a one day conference in the Semester two. Departmental training for all other students usually takes place in Week 1 of the summer vacation and you will be notified of these events.

The University Researcher Development Team will help you to conduct first class research and to strengthen your employability prospects. We provide a central suite of training opportunities for all researchers (research students, research associates, research assistants and research fellows) and work with departments to provide subject specific training.

In addition to University PoD courses the Department also organises training for its' research students which includes:

  • The PhD Seminar Series which consists of a few two-hour training sessions each semester. Half of these sessions, what we call ‘research sessions’ are based around PhD students presenting their work to the group for comment and feedback. The purpose of these research sessions is for students to improve their presentation skills and try out ideas in a supportive environment. The other half of the sessions, the ‘skills sessions’, are based around developing skills and competencies which are useful for PhD study and beyond.
  • We aim to make all training events accessible to distance learners and postgraduate researchers who are away from campus by running them either entirely online or as hybrid events, with some people co-present in person and others joining online.
  • Every year, usually in the Easter vacation, the PhD students organise a day conference which is open to all students affiliated to the White Rose DTC or British Sociological Association. It is expected that you will get involved in the organisation of this event at least once during your registration period and also use the conference as an opportunity to present your research to your peers. Many of our students also attend conferences in the UK and present their research in the form of talks or posters.
  • PhD Away Day Every year, usually in the Summer Semester, the PGR Committee organises a PhD Away Day and it is expected that every registered PhD will attend this event.  Activities include planning student-led activities for the next academic year, research fieldwork and other academic development. 


We have an excellent employment record for our postgraduates who are highly prized by top level employers, both in the UK and internationally. A combination of outstanding teaching and a supportive collegiate environment enable our students to develop their creativity and full intellectual potential.  The opportunities offered in the Department of Sociology develop important transferable skills which will well valued in the jobs market.

Many of our PhD Graduates go onto have successful careers in academia and research.  The latest information on the destinations of our graduates is available on the Sociology alumni webpage.

We have, in addition, a designated Careers Officer, Vicky Barton, whose role is to provide Sociology students with careers-related support and advice. The University's Careers Service, to which Vicky belongs, offers a range of resources, events and support services to help develop students’ skills and experience while they are at York.

Work experience

We are realistic about the financial pressures that many of our postgraduate students experience, particularly those who are self funded. We also recognize the value of work experience for students about to enter the jobs market.

Our students can take advantage of opportunities which include undergraduate teaching (research students only), running workshops, teaching for the Centre for Lifelong Learning, acting as research assistants for members of staff or becoming a postgraduate tutor in one of the colleges.

The Interactive Careers Service helps students find jobs on and off campus while there are, in addition, local opportunities for volunteering, internship or entrepreneurship.


Entry requirements

Normally, you will have a good undergraduate degree in a social science discipline, or in a discipline related to the research area in which you intend to work.

Graduate Students with English as a second language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

  • IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
  • PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
  • C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
  • TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

Students who have successfully completed a recent undergraduate or taught masters degree at a UK University are exempt from the English Language requirement.

Application procedures

Application for Research degrees are made online. Please follow the relevant link to access the online form:

If you are applying for a research degree (i.e. not for a taught one-year Masters' course) you are asked on the application form to provide a brief outline of your proposed research area.  Please follow this link for guidelines on what to include in your proposal

This, together with the other information you provide on the form, will be reviewed by the proposed supervisor, in consultation with another specialist in the relevant research area. If you have not already visited us informally, to meet and talk to the person with whom you are interested in working, and if it seems that your proposed field of research is one in which we are able to offer appropriate supervision, then you will normally have the opportunity to come and talk to us about your plans, and see the university.

Applicants from overseas are encouraged to visit the department, wherever possible, so that you can get a clear, first-hand impression of the department, the university and the city of York.

Before an offer of a place on a research programme is made, you will be interviewed, either in person or, where this is not practicable, e.g., in the case of international applicants, by telephone or video-conferencing. The interview will normally involve the prospective supervisors. The purpose of the interview is to allow the department to take a view on the broad viability of your project and your suitability for the programme. See our guidance on how to prepare for interviews.

A decision will be reached on the basis of our assessment of the potential for your successfully completing original doctoral research, which depends in part on whether we are able to offer you the necessary expert supervision. So we look for a close match between the work which an applicant is proposing to do, and the research expertise of the relevant member(s) of staff.

Please note that the University and the Department pursue a policy of equal opportunities in offering places to read for postgraduate degrees, as in all appointments.


Postgraduate Study Space

Students in the Department of Sociology are very fortunate in having their own designated postgraduate study space which offers desk, social and kitchen space. 

Photocopying/printing facilities are available for PhD students via YPP printer cloud all across campus although there is a printer for the sole use of PhD students in the Village Kitchen. The department usually pays for Sociology student printing.

Social Science Research Centre (ReCSS)

The Social Science Research Centre (ReCSS) is a multidisciplinary collaborative support infrastructure for researchers involved in social sciences research within the University.

The PhD provision accommodates about 85 students, with hot desks for student use. 


Who to contact