PhD/MPhil Sociology

Start date
PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time; MPhil – 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research

In the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology we offer two types of research degree: an MPhil or a PhD in Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology.


Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

The programmes may be undertaken either by full-time study or, for home and EU students only, by part-time study. Unfortunately, we do not currently offer distance learning courses for postgraduate research, although we are exploring the possibility of offering this in the future. Learn more about the research interests of our staff and how to contact them.

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, Contemporary Philosophy of Technology Research Group events and Lunchtime research seminars hosted by the following Research Theme groups:

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  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

Visit our FAQs


Standard fees apply.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships may be available, please contact the Department directly.

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

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

For more information visit

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

Our Standard Requirements

Learn more about entry requirements and see our General Guidance for PhD Applications (PDF 190KB).

International Requirements

  • Social Implications of Technology: the social and political consequences of technological transformations of the body, labour, memory and organic reproduction; Media, Culture and Identity: the commodification of culture and the effects of new media networks on civil society and democracy; Politics and Sociology of Happiness: the relationship between the rational-technological trajectory of modernity and the emergence of happiness and wellbeing as key socio-political categories in Western democracies; Global Ethics and Cosmopolitanism: the transformation of the international economy through new information technologies and the possibility of new economies of contribution.
    Contact: Ross Abbinnett
  • Sociology of social stratification; Sociology ‘race’ and ethnicity; Sociology of religion; Fame Capital & Celebrity culture; Sociology of authorship; Sociology of media; The Politics of representation and stereotyping (in cinema, literature and media); Cognitive property, intellectual property, and copyright
    Contact: Gëzim Alpion

  • The relationship between gender, feminism and social change; Postfeminism, neoliberalism and gender inequality; Feminist theory; Gender and individualisation; Gendered subjectivities and identities; Sexuality and personal relationships; Gender and materialism
    Contact: Shelley Budgeon

  • Critical pedagogy and the sociology of higher education; Neoliberalism, big data, the quantified self and audit culture; Classical and contemporary social theory; The philosophy of the social sciences, especially issues concerning critical realism and ontology, pragmatism and problem-solving, and theories of dialogic knowledge development; The sociology and politics of knowledge, especially as applied to the issues of public intellectuals, expertise and the democratisation of the public sphere
    Contact: Justin Cruickshank

  • Deliberative democracy; Political inclusion; Language and social theory; Habermas's social and political thought; The potential of pragma-dialectical models of argument to develop normative and empirical aspects of deliberation, and the relation between debates on structure and agency in social theory and deliberative principles.
    Contact: Andrew Knops
  • Political Sociology, including: state-society relations; ideology and political action; political behaviour and individualised political practices; governance and ‘behaviour change’; The relationship between social theory and political analysis and action; (Centre) Left political ideology, parties and movements.
    Contact: Will Leggett

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

Birmingham’s Sociology 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. 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 Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on their career pathway. The University’s central Careers’ Service 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.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities