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MPhil and PhD in Sociology

The Department of Sociology at York is ranked 1st in the UK for research quality by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). Our publications are rated as internationally world leading and the impact of our research has the highest possible rating. 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 have a dedicated PhD Student village with office space and common room
  • We are successful at generating substantial research income from national and international funding agencies



Recent research themes

  • Digital culture industry : A History of digital distribution
  • The ethical dimensions of a new media age : a study in contemporary responsibility
  • Vaccines against vice: A constructive technology assessment of immunotherapies for addiction
  • Risk and socio-techynical system: A study of the Taiwanese campus accident reporting system
  • Communicating offline protest online: mapping changes in mobilization, identity building and organisation.
  • Late License: contempoary adulthood and the night time leisure economy
  • Life in a northern town: call centres, labour markets and identity in post-industrial Middlesbrough
  • Work and its other: A multiple purpose analysis of incapacity benefit reform
  • Contemporary Chinese migration : exploring the experiences of middle-class Chinese families living in England in the early 21st Century
  • Experts in the wild: natural history film-making as a culture of knowledge-production
  • From risk to reason: understanding young people’s perception of HIV risk in South Africa
  • Home and away: a sociological study of transnational intimate relationships
  • Modes of lay environmental monitoring: towards a sociology of environmental monitoring
  • Online @ home in retirement: situating computer and internet use within bodies, spaces and biographies
  • Talking of transcendence: a discursive exploration into how people make sense of their extraordinary expepriences
  • Wired for sound : on the digitalisation of music and music culture
  • Translating molecular diagnostics : innovation, communication and the dynamics of clinical implementation
  • Speaking of spirits: representations and experiences of the spirit world in British spirit mediumship
  • Medicine : its meaning, management & value
  • Talking about violence: women reporting abuse in Brasil
  • Understanding Internet Governance

PHD Sociology: Bioscience and Society

This degree enables you to study within the Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) which is an internationally recognised social science research centre exploring the dynamics, practices, and possibilities of contemporary science and technology.

If your research interests fall into this area cotact:

Director, Professor Andrew Webster



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. 


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 Spring Term.  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 term. 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.
  • 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 Term, 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 pressuresthat 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.

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.


Graduate Village

Students in the Department of Sociology are very fortunate in having their own designated "Graduate Village" in which everyone has a shared office and a common room with kitchen area.  Office accommodation comprises desks, shelving, filing cabinets, computing facilities and a telephone for incoming and internal calls.  

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, using a mixed economy of desks for more permanent occupants and more temporary hot desks. In addition, there are lockers provided for students, a dedicated social space, catering facilities (there are three floors with one facility on each floor), and rooms that can be used for smaller meeting purposes. A dedicated RCSS reception has been established. There is also parking and bicycle shed provision.


Who to contact