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Law, Criminology and Sociology have an excellent reputation for high quality research, and this expertise provides the basis for rigorous doctoral supervision. Our staff have particular expertise in risk studies, violence, victimisation, race and ethnicity, gender, the family, health and illness, health care professions, the sociology of consumption and pharmaceuticals. The Department is also home to the internationally-regarded Medical Sociology doctoral programme. This programme has a world-class reputation stretching back over forty years, with many of its past doctoral students now in leading academic and research positions around the world. Student testimonies| attest to the ongoing success of this programme.

Our postgraduate students enjoy a friendly and stimulating research environment and regular, personally-tailored supervisory sessions. Participating fully in the life of the Department, our doctoral students are valued members of a close-knit group of academics.

Our lively annual Postgraduate Research Day is always well-attended and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to showcase their work. We understand the importance of fostering doctoral students' professional skills, and fully support them in presenting papers at academic conferences in the UK and abroad. We are committed to our students' success, providing mock vivas, annual reviews, and personal advice on future career paths. Many members of the Department's postgraduate community are from outside the UK, providing an opportunity for the exchange of ideas within an international context.

Prospective postgraduate students are warmly invited to look at staff members' individual web pages and contact us directly if you require any further information or advice on your application. Enquiries of a general nature should be directed to the Department's Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Jonathan Gabe|

General Information for Prospective MPhil and PhD Students

There are two types of research degree for which students may register within the Department:

A PhD is awarded to students who produce a substantial piece of original research in the form of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. Candidates for PhD are normally registered for 3 years full-time, with submission within not more than 4 years, or 4 to 7 years part-time. Students must remain registered and paying an appropriate fee until submission.

An MPhil is awarded for original research and submission of a thesis of up to 55,000 words. Candidates must normally be registered for 2 years (full-time) or 4 years (part-time).

Research students are normally registered for the MPhil degree initially. For those who wish it, and who achieve satisfactory progress, this can be upgraded to PhD registration.

The Department welcomes applications from suitably qualified and highly-motivated candidates. The application process for our postgraduate research programmes is an interactive one. We place great emphasis on matching prospective students to supervisors’ interests, building on our existing research activities. Interested potential applicants should first refer to our website to obtain a good idea of the Department's research|. The Department is only able to consider applications in research areas of interest to its full-time academic staff.  

In the first instance, potential applicants should prepare a research proposal, outlining the project that they will undertake if accepted onto the PhD programme.  This should be at least 4-5 pages long and should include a brief literature review, the key research questions stemming from this review, proposed methodology and a bibliography. Email this research proposal, along with a brief CV, to the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Jonathan Gabe|.

If the proposal is met with interest by a potential supervisor, the Director of Graduate Studies will invite the potential applicant to discuss their proposal further via email. UK-based applicants may be invited to visit the Department. Promising potential applicants will then be advised to apply formally| for a place on our PhD programme.

Potential applicants may contact the Director of Graduate Study with proposals at any stage of the academic year. For the 2013/14 academic year, the deadline for formal applications from those  wishing to be considered for funding opportunities from the ESRC has now passed

Teaching Opportunities

Opportunities to undertake paid undergraduate seminar tutoring may be available for suitably qualified research students, normally in years two and three of full-time registration.  Postgraduate teacher training is provided by the College for this purpose.

Sources of Funding

The Department is part of the ESRC Southeast UK Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), which was established in collaboration with social science departments at Royal Holloway, Reading, Kent, and Surrey Universities.  Through this our doctoral programme in medical sociology is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and we have access to ESRC 1+3 and +3 studentships allocated to the consortium. We are also recognised for ESRC 1+3 and +3 CASE studentships and welcome proposals for CASE studentships from individual students and third-party organisations.  There is strong competition for these prestigious awards and applicants who wish to be considered should begin early to locate a potential supervisor in the Department and begin working on a project application. Details of the Doctoral Training Centre and its studentships can be found  here|.

In addition there are a small number of College scholarships available, ranging from fee waiver awards to maintenance awards. Further information about these opportunities for funding can be found here|.


Each research student is allocated both a specialist supervisor and an adviser, whose role is to provide support and to review and monitor progress. All research student activity in the Department is overseen by the Director of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Jonathan Gabe. The Department believes that careful supervision, appropriate research and subject training, and a supportive academic environment are crucial to the successful completion of research degrees. Students’ supervisors and the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies take primary responsibility for the academic and welfare needs of research postgraduates in the Department. A departmental handbook is issued to all research students annually, and students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the College Code of Practice for the Academic Welfare of Postgraduate Research Students.


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