Research course


University of Surrey · Department of Sociology

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Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold at least an upper second-class honours degree in sociology or a related discipline.

Months of entry

January, April, July

Course content

Boasting an international reputation and a thriving academic environment, the Department of Sociology supervises PhDs in a wide range of subjects across sociology, criminology, digital media and communications and related areas.

We were ranked in the top 10 sociology departments in the UK for publications, in the latest 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, with more than three quarters of our research publications rated as first-class or internationally excellent. This reflects our strong postgraduate community, diverse research centres, research training activities, and funding successes. We're home to research centres in criminology, social simulation and ageing and gender, and a number of academic journals are based in or edited from the Department.

As a postgraduate researcher in sociology at Surrey, you will join a diverse community of full and part-time PhD students from the UK, the EU and around the world. Our PhD students play an important part in the life and culture of our vibrant and friendly department.

We have a global reputation for our expertise and innovation in a wide range of research methods, from qualitative and ethnographic work, to statistical analysis of large and complex data sets, and online research and social simulation. As a PhD student you will be provided with the opportunity to undertake in-depth methodology training via a range of optional taught courses.

As a department we are renowned for our applied approach, something reflected in the way we work in partnership with a range of private, public and third-sector organisations. This includes the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Police Dependants’ Trust. We aim to combat inequalities and champion diversity.

Exactly what you'll study will depend on the topic of your PhD. We can supervise a wide range of areas relating to criminology, sociology and digital media and communications - please see the ‘Themes and Facilities’ tab for a full list.

The PhD programme centres on close individual tuition and guidance from your supervisory team, comprising a principal supervisor, a co-supervisor and, in some cases, an additional third supervisor. Supervisors offer advice, feedback and guidance on all aspects of the PhD process, as well as - where appropriate - on career and CV development, and research dissemination through publications and conference papers.

We formally review your progress twice a year, offering the opportunity for medium and longer-term research planning, the identification of training needs, and provision of CV and career advice. Progress reviews also offer you the opportunity to raise any queries, concerns or suggestions. Close to the end of your first year, you will complete a PhD confirmation process in which you will receive detailed feedback and guidance on your work, from staff outside your supervisory team.

You will also attend a range of courses, workshops, seminars, conferences and other events as appropriate to your project. As well as offering training in research skills or different aspects of the PhD process, such events offer opportunities for you to present your work to one another, or exchange findings and ideas with staff or external speakers.

You will also have the option to take relevant modules from our MSc courses in your first year of study, to extend and deepen your field of knowledge.

Establishing a vibrant academic environment where PhD students develop supportive relationships with one another and with staff, is central to our approach. In addition to close one-to-one mentoring and tuition from supervisors, you will benefit from a range of bespoke departmental events.

Doctoral students can also attend the Department's day courses in Social Research and the extensive range of courses run by the CAQDAS Networking project. There is also an extensive Researcher Development Programme run at university-level where you can benefit from the extensive central resources and research training opportunities provided by the University’s Doctoral College.

You'll have access to an annual allowance to help with the cost of external conferences and other training events relevant to your work, as well as other research expenses. Doctoral students are able to apply for graduate teaching assistant roles and have access to training, to support them in developing their teaching skills.

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    96 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

+44 (0)1483 682 222