Research course

Applied Social Research

The University of Manchester · School of Social Sciences

Entry requirements

Candidates MUST normally have;

  • Bachelors (Honours) degree (or overseas equivalent) at 2:1 level or above in a cognate subject, and
  • Normally a Masters degree at 65% overall average with minimum 65% in dissertation and with no mark below 55% (or overseas equivalent) in a relevant cognate subject, preferably one with a substantial research methods component. Transcripts will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that applicants have the required background.
  • Note; due to the volume of applications received each year, and limited spaces, regrettably offers cannot be made to all applicants who satisfy the academic entry criteria.
  • All applicants who pass the initial assessment stage will be interviewed before any offer is confirmed.

Months of entry


Course content

The Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMI) is an interdisciplinary research centre resulting from the merger (in August 2014) of the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR) and the Institute for Social Change (ISC). CMI provides a focal point at The University of Manchester, for the application of quantitative methods in interdisciplinary social science research in order to generate a world class research environment. The Institute builds on our existing strong reputation for quantitative social science and the development and application of advanced quantitative methods. CMI aims to be at the forefront, internationally, of quantitative social science research - encapsulating a wide range of topics and methods. A distinctive feature of the Institute is the application of advanced and innovative methods, within an interdisciplinary framework, to address social, economic and political questions.

CMI is directed by Prof Rachel Gibson and is based in the School of Social Sciences, which is itself based in the Faculty of Humanities. There are two PhD programmes: the Applied Social Research (ASR), and Social Statistics, directed by Prof Yaojun Li and Dr Nick Shryane respectively. Students on both programmes are co-located within CMI which aims to offer an outstanding environment for postgraduate study. Sociology (including Social Statistics) is 1st in the UK, based on the percentage of overall research activity that is world leading (4*), and 2nd based on research power. The School of Social Sciences' teaching was rated as 'excellent' in the last Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) teaching assessment exercise.

CMI welcomes PhD applications on our two main research themes Advanced Quantitative Methods and Social Dynamics. We especially welcome PhD applications related to our research groups on Survey Research (led by Natalie Shlomo), Administrative Data (led by Kingsley Purdam and Mark Elliot), Statistical Modelling (led by Mark Tranmer), Methods, Data Services and Training (led by Jackie Carter and Vanessa Higgins), Ethnicity, Religion and Migration (led by James Nazroo), Ageing, Health and Well-being (led by Chris Phillipson and Nick Shryane), Democracy, Citizens and Elections research (led by Rachel Gibson), and Class and Labour Dynamics (led by Yaojun Li and Wendy Olsen).

Students on the Applied Social Research PhD have the opportunity to apply for a placement in the course of their studies through the Faculty of Humanities PhD Placement Scheme , subject to Supervisor approval. The Faculty scheme is very flexible, with placements being carried out over a period of four weeks to three months on a full-time or part-time basis, depending on the requirements of the placement provider.

There are two ways of taking a placement, either to apply for one of the placements that are advertised by one of our non-HEI partners, or to design and propose your own placement to a non-HEI organisation of your choice. Support will be provided to those students who would like to do this.

Taking a placement offers you a number of benefits including:

  • To increase your employability skills;
  • The potential to demonstrate research impact;
  • Developing professional networking opportunities with non-HEI organisations which may be beneficial to your future career;
  • Demonstrating public engagement skills and participating in knowledge exchange.

Where a placement provider does not offer funding, there is an opportunity to apply for a stipend to the Faculty. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Associate Dean for PGR in Humanities. For further information, please contact: Dr Louise Davies, email: .


Prof Yaojun Li

0161 275 0274


Information for international students

  • IELTS 7, including 7 in writing and with no further score below 6.5
  • TOEFL IBT 103 with 28 in writing and no further score below 25 in each section.
  • ALL non-native English speaking students are required to do the English language assessment when they register in September.
  • Any non-native English speaking student going away for fieldwork in an overseas, non-English speaking country required to re-take the English assessment when they come back to Manchester.
  • All non UK/EU, non-native English speaking applicants must have obtained the minimum IELTS or TOEFL score in order to obtain a CAS for their visa.

Scores are valid for 2 years.

For example;

Test taken on or after 17 September 2016 - CAS issued June 2018 = Score is VALID

Test taken before 17 September 2016 = Score is INVALID

Please note that CAS statements are issued only when all conditions of the offer have been satisfied, PDF copy of passport received and the offer accepted.

Applicants from certain countries MAY be exempt from having to provide an IELTS or TOEFL score. For further advice please email

Pre-Sessional English Courses:

If you eligible to do a pre-sessional English course (either 6 weeks or 10 weeks, depending on your English score), you will be required to successfully complete the course at the required level before you are permitted to register on your academic course).

The dates and fees for next summer (2018) are now available on the English Language Centre's website.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

School of Social Sciences - PhD Studentships - January 2018 start

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months

Course contact details

School of Social Sciences
+44 (0)161 275 4743