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PhD and MPhil programmes

Our programmes are supported by a commitment to an international standard of research.

You will be part of a Graduate School with other doctoral students from across the globe, becoming part of a vibrant research community.

You will belong to the White Rose Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) with its extended networks and training events. Students are given access to desk space and computing facilities at the Research Centre for the Social Sciences (RCSS), which is a hub for interdisciplinary research and postgraduate life in the social sciences at York. 

Students may be eligible to apply for a scholarship or bursary: the Department is often successful in securing ESRC scholarships for our PhD applicants.

There are opporunities for paid teaching in the Department and the University: Graduate Teaching Assistants receive support to gain accredited teaching qualifications.


We are able to offer supervision in a wide range of areas, largely focused around the following topics: 

  • Childhood, youth and family
  • Housing
  • Welfare and poverty
  • Mental health
  • Comparative and global social policy
  • Health and social care
  • Crime

Consider how your research interests complement our expertise and knowledge. Find out more about our supervisors, our research and current doctoral students below.

Before you apply you may find it useful to contact Dr Julie Rugg for an informal discussion about your topic and potential supervisors. 

Entry requirements

You will be normally expected to hold an Upper Second or First Class Honours degree. However if you have other relevant experience you may still be considered.

If you wish to pursue research on a social work topic, you should also have a good background in social work theory and practice. Likewise, if you wish to do research in social policy, you should have a firm background in the subject. 

Applicants are expected to have a good grounding in research methods.

If you're a non-native English speaking applicant you must provide evidence of your English language ability. Find out more about our English language requirements.

Application process

In addition to the materials set out by postgraduate admissions you will be required to submit a research proposal of up to 3,000 words. This should include the following:

  • A brief summary of existing literature and gaps in knowledge
  • Research questions/hypotheses
  • Methodology
  • A timetable of completion (three years for a PhD, two years for an MPhil)

Please note that potential supervisors are unable to comment on proposals prior to submission.


If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to attend an online interview. It is important that you can demonstrate an understanding of your topic area, its supporting theories and knowledge around current research.

PhD Scholarship in Systems Thinking and Complexity

Further information

Both our PhD and MPhil courses can be completed either full time or part time although some overseas students maybe required to undertake full-time study.

You'll need to pay an annual tuition fee for your research degree:

More information about research degrees at the University of York.

Apply for PhDApply for MPhil