PhD/MPhil Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology

Start date
September. Other start dates can be negotiated
PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time; MPhil: 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research
For 2023-2024

PhD Full time £4,620, Part time £2,310
MPhil Full time £4,620, Part time £2,310
Distance Learning £2,310
PhD Full time £20,340
Distance Learning £10,170

We offer two types of research degree: an MPhil or a PhD - in any of the disciplines represented in our department, including social policy, criminology and sociology.

In the School of Social Policy we offer much more than a degree. PhD students have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events including Departmental Research Seminars, Research Centre Seminars, Postgraduate Research Student Seminars, as well as a vibrant and engaged PhD researcher community. 

Prospective applicants for research degrees in any aspect of social policy, sociology or criminology are invited to apply, whilst outlining their special interests. All research degree programmes may be undertaken either by full-time or part-time study or via distance learning. 

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.

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. 

The MPhil requires a thesis of 60,000 words, while the PhD thesis is 80,000 words in length. 

Find out more about our staff and their interests 


Fees 2023/2024


801C - PhD Full time £4,620
802C - PhD Part time £2,310
804C - MPhil Full time £4,620
804C - MPhil Part time £2,310
806C - PhD Distance Learning £2,310


801C - PhD Full time £20,340
806C - PhD Distance Learning £10,170

Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships and bursaries may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More information about scholarships.

College and School opportunities are advertised on and some supervisors use 'Find a PhD' which provides information about opportunities to conduct doctoral research. We also nominate our strongest applicants for studentships supported by the ESRC-funded Midlands Doctoral Training Partnership, of which we are one of the principal institutional partners.

Find out more about postgraduate research scholarships.

Postgraduate Loans for Doctoral students

You may be eligible for a postgraduate loan.  For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page

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 online

Our Standard Requirements

Learn more about entry requirements.

International Requirements

  • Youth Justice, Youth crime, Criminology and Mobilities.
    Contact: Sarah Brooks-Wilson

  • Experiences of disability and impairment (including mental distress); Individual and family experiences of social care and health services
    Contact: Harriet Clarke
    Tel: +44(0)121 415 8479
  • UK trade unionism and union renewal; Social unionism;  Evaluating the efficacy of non-traditional agendas as vehicles for union renewal (and their behaviour as employee relations negotiables). 
    Contact: Tom Farnhill
  • Integration and cohesion; Poverty and social exclusion; Gender and health; Approaches to welfare provision for migrants in an age of super-diversity.
    Contact: Dr Lisa Goodson
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 4993
  • Poverty; Inequality; Asset-based welfare; Conceptual and ideological debates about the nature of welfare systems; Young people and social welfare support; Social Security and anti-poverty practices; Alternative/Community currency systems
  • Prison sociology; The ways in which prisoners experience the pains and deprivations of prison, especially long-term prisoners and serious offenders.
    Contact: Anna Kotova
  • The perceptions, measurement, and dimensionality of immigrant adaptation; Ethnic inequalities in education and the labour market; The transnational behaviour across immigrant generations; and Social inequalities and social mobility.
    Contact: Laurence Lessard-Phillips
  • The development of large-scale databases on voluntary organisations, including registered charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutual; The geographical and sectoral distribution of these organisations including UK-wide comparisons and small-area analyses; Long-run trends in the formation and survival of organisations; The pattern of funding, including the balance between public service provision and voluntary finance; and patterns of voluntary action and the relationship between voluntary action and social capital
    Contact: John Mohan
  • Methodological Issues Related to Complex Social Interventions; Nutritional Approaches to Behaviour, Learning and Mood; Brief Psycho-Social Interventions for Mental Health Problems (in particular sleep problems)
    Contact: Paul Montgomery
  • Older people and personal finance (and personal finance-related issues), including financial security, financial advice, and the regulation of consumer financial services.
    Contact: Louise Overton
  • Labour economics: Labour market impacts of international migration and cultural diversity, overeducation and skills mismatch, innovation, human capital and knowledge spillovers, economics of population, migration policy
    Contact: Ceren Ozgen
  • New migration and superdiversity; migrant integration and settlement; organisational adaptation and migrant welfare needs; small scale refugee, migrant and ethnic third sector activity; innovative qualitative research methods; refugee and migrant health and migrant maternity; community research methodology; sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).
    Contact: Dr Jenny Phillimore
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 7822

  • Forced displacement and globalisation; Sociology of statelessness; Dual citizenship and the experiences of dual citizens; The intersection between migration, rights and citizenship; Everyday experiences of superdiversity; Neoliberalism, globalisation and governance of human mobility; The politics of refugee voices and silences; Romani politics and anti-Gypsyism; Undocumented migrants and experiences of ‘illegality’ through generations; Child and family migration; Transnationalism and diasporas; Policy and practice of migrant integration and ideas of membership in the EU; Freedom of movement and intra-EU mobility
    Contact: Nando Sigona
  • Causes and consequences of income and wealth inequality, comparative and EU social policy, welfare state reforms and new policy proposals (e.g. universal basic income), socio-economic drivers of populism (Brexit/radical right and radical left populism), labour market insecurity, privatization of social policy and welfare mixes, young people's social policies, higher education policies, philosophy of social policy (postcapitalism, neo-marxism,  World System Theory), mixed methods (qualitative comparative research; large-N analysis; Q-methodology)
    Contact: Lorenza Antonucci 

For the Health Services Management Centre, view the supervisor research interests list.

Assessment Methods

The MPhil requires a thesis of 60,000 words, while the PhD thesis is 80,000 words in length.

Our academic staff have wide research interests and these are detailed below. Joint supervision is generally advised, and we can provide this with other departments.


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

Graduates from the School of Social Policy are able to develop analytical skills and the ability to gather, assess and interpret data, all of which require clear and logical thinking, making them an attractive prospect for employers.

Birmingham's School of Social Policy postgraduates enter a wide range of occupational sectors: the majority in the public sector in areas such as youth work but others including events, sales, administration and education. Graduates also opt to continue in academia.

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

The College of Social Sciences, to which the School of Social Policy 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.

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