Sociology PhD/MPhil

PhD and MPhil research projects in sociology can be supervised by any of the Sociology team in the School of Government and Society (see the link to research interests below). Although students wishing to undertake postgraduate research in sociology need to register for a PhD or MPhil in Politics / IR the research undertaken will be sociological and will be supervised by a sociologist. The Sociology team have specialist research knowledge in the areas of social theory, feminism and post-feminism, political sociology, celebrity, religion and the philosophy of the social sciences.

Learn more about the research interests of our staff and how to contact them.

In the School of Government and Society we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.

Sociology at Birmingham is an excellent place to develop a sociological imagination to understand the challenges and opportunities we face.

Course details: Details | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply | Academic staff research interests.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Doctoral research

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time; MPhil – 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time

Start date: September


Our PhD programmes offer you a combination of taught courses in the first year and careful supervision throughout your study, with the aim of helping you to produce a thesis that makes a significant and original contribution to the discipline.

We take care to match you with a suitable supervisor, and welcome applications to work in a wide variety of areas. Joint supervision, both between staff within the Department, and with staff in other departments, is possible in some cases.
All research students have regular meetings with their supervisors. PhD students also have annual panel meetings to support and review progress. We encourage you to give conference papers and to publish your work.

Sociology at Birmingham has a thriving research culture with staff publishing and supervising graduate students in the following areas:

  • Critical Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Gender and the Family
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Political Sociology
  • Post-Colonialism and Ethnicity
  • Religion and Faith
  • Social Theory
  • Status and Celebrity
  • Technology and Culture  

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply.
Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available, please contact the Department directly.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For more information visit

Entry requirements

International students:

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements.

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Research interests of staff

Sociology at Birmingham has a thriving research culture with staff publishing and supervising graduate students in the following areas:

  • Critical Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Gender and the Family
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Political Sociology
  • Post-Colonialism and Ethnicity
  • Religion and Faith
  • Social Theory
  • Status and Celebrity
  • Technology and Culture

Academic staff interests:

Ross Abbinnett

  • Critical Theory
  • Contemporary European Social and Political Thought
  • The Sociology of Happiness
  • The Sociology of Technology

Gëzim Alpion

Gëzim would be happy to consider supervising research students interested in the following areas:

  • Sociology of 'race' and ethnicity
  • Sociology of success and celebrity culture
  • Representation (in film and media)
  • Sociology of religion: faith and spiritual aridity in post/modernity
  • Sociology of authorship

Shelley Budgeon

  • Feminist social theory
  • Gender Relations and Social Change
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Personal life

Justin Cruickshank

  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Critical Realism
  • Pragmatism
  • Sociology of knowledge

Andrew Knops

  • Deliberative democracy
  • Political inclusion
  • Language and social theory
  • Habermas's social and political thought

Will Leggett

  • Political Sociology
  • Social and Political Theory
  • Social change, ideology, and political action
  • State-society-citizen relations


If I gain a postgraduate research degree in this area, what are my career prospects?

The University of Birmingham has recently been ranked 9th in the UK, and 55th in the world, for post-qualification employability in a global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

This PhD programme is run by the University’s Department for Political Science and International Studies. Over the last five years, 91.4% of our Political Science and International Studies postgraduates have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation.

Birmingham’s Political Science and International Studies graduates develop transferable skills that are useful in many occupations. These include familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large and diverse quantities of information; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; judging and evaluating complex information; and making reasoned arguments, both orally, in tutorials and presentations, and in written work. There are many careers where a political science and international studies degree is useful and past graduates have entered areas including commercial management, finance, administration, politics, and even the armed forces. Some of our PhD graduates also continue onto successful careers in academic research and teaching.

What type of career assistance is available to doctoral researchers in this department?

The College of Social Sciences, to which the Department of Political Science and International Studies belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers’ Service also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice, 1-1 CV advice. The Career’s Service also runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates in the College of Social Sciences, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors for International students who run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with International postgraduate researchers.