MPhil & PhD in Sociology

  • Length
    3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time.
  • Department

Course overview

We're committed to developing our postgraduates into skilled researchers who can conduct rigorous research using a variety of methodologies and methods.

Goldsmiths’ research in sociology covers a range of areas, including:

  • art and literature
  • deviance
  • education
  • the sociology of governance and regulation
  • theories of industrial society
  • health, illness and psychiatry
  • interpersonal relations
  • knowledge
  • politics
  • ‘race’ and ethnicity
  • class
  • religion
  • values in society
  • childhood and youth culture
  • the body and society
  • social aspects of the life sciences and bio-medicine, science and technology
  • the expansion of capitalism on a world scale
  • urban studies
  • gender and the sexual division of labour
  • culture and communications

We emphasise the importance of the relationship between you and your supervisor: we ‘match’ you with a supervisor whose current active research interests and expertise are compatible with your chosen topic of research.

You will be assessed by a thesis and viva voce.

The Sociology MPhil/PhD programme is recognised by the ESRC for excellence in research training.

Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact the Postgraduate Research Officer, Sociology


Sociology at Goldsmiths is ranked:
9th in the UK and 45th in the world for this subject area**
9th in the UK for the quality of our research***


The Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths is active, contemporary and inventive. We are interested in everything from the ‘global’ issues of poverty and injustice to the ‘micro’ issues of cultural identity and the presentation of self in a digital world.

Our staff are some of the top academics in the world for this discipline – they’re the pioneers who are pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. They’ve played a key role in developing social research methods, setting agendas in social and cultural policy, and linking theory to practice.

Through their world-leading research you’ll be at the forefront of current debates and will be encouraged to see the world differently.

Find out more about the Department of Sociology.

**QS World University Rankings by subject 2015
***Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings


Recent and current funded research

Goldsmiths Sociology has a long track record of funded research, with research funded by UK research councils, British Academy, European Union, and charities including Leverhulme, Wellcome and Joseph Rowntree. We are also in research collaboration with industry, local and national government and public bodies.

Current and recent projects include: 

Member of staff Title of project Funding body Start date End date
Monica Greco Biopolitics and Psychosomatics: Participating Bodies Wellcome Trust April 2016 July 2016
Maria O'Reilly Gendered Agency in War and Peace BA Leverhulme Small Grant April 2015 July 2016
Vik Loveday Precarity at Work BA Leverhulme Small Grant April 2015 May 2016
Emma Jackson The Choreography of Everyday Multiculture: Bowling Together? ESRC January 2015 December2017
Val Gillies Troubled Families and Inter Agency Collaboration: Lessons from Historical Comparative ESRC December2014 November 2015
Marsha Rosengarten, Martin Savransky & Daniel Neyland ‘Situated efficacy’ as a novel approach to interdisciplinary in the devising and delivery of effective medical and behavioural interventions Brocher Foundation November 2014 March 2015
Katrina Jungnickel Near Miss Project Creative Exchange October 2014 May 2015
Evelyn Ruppert Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS) ERC Consolidator Grant May 2014 April 2019
Marsha Rosengarten & Martin Savransky Towards a Concept of Situated Efficacy: An Alternative Mode for Collboration between Social Science and Biomedicine BA Leverhulme Small Grant April 2014 March 2015

Find out more about research in the Department of Sociology

Skills & careers


You'll develop advanced research training covering a wide range of qualitative and quantitative sociological methods, and an ability to develop advanced and extended forms of written argument and scholarly practice.


Possible careers cover:

  • Academia
  • Social research in applied areas like health or urban regeneration
  • Research consultancy
  • Practice-orientated work
  • Work in the arts and cultural industries
  • Publishing



"The teaching and support offered by the department was truly excellent."

"Studying for the MA in Gender, Media & Culture at Goldsmiths has had a very profound and positive impact on my life, personally, politically and professionally. Having taken some gender studies classes as an undergraduate I was eager to develop my knowledge, and the range of options plus the opportunity for interdisciplinary study at Goldsmiths allowed me to do that. The teaching and support offered by the department was truly excellent, especially in terms of dissertation supervision. The work I did for that dissertation not only inspired me to get involved in feminist/queer cultural activism outside academia but also to pursue a PhD, which I completed at Goldsmiths in 2006.

Today I am a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Westminster where I lead several Gender Studies modules and strive to pass on the enthusiasm for a critical understanding of gender I encountered at Goldsmiths to a new generation of students."


"Doing a PhD is like a voyage, and it has its ups and downs, but I'm really happy with what I produced."

"How was the Goldsmiths experience? I got a feel for the place from my first month of teaching. Doing a PhD is like a voyage, and it has its ups and downs, but I'm really happy with what I produced. Now I've completed, I'm going to continue teaching here. I'm also looking to continue my research into children and HIV - which has previously been based in London - and get funding to do it on a global scale."


"The combination of supportive staff, weekly workshops and a friendly environment makes Goldsmiths an ideal place to learn and develop."

"I'm really pleased that I took the decision to study at Goldsmiths. At an academic level, Goldsmiths has enabled me to develop my skills as a researcher as well as my career within the field. The combination of supportive staff, weekly workshops/seminars and being a lively and friendly environment makes Goldsmiths an ideal place to learn and develop.
On a personal level, the diversity that exists inside Goldsmiths has given me the opportunity to mix with different people. This has allowed me to learn more about different cultures within everyday practice.  
I've recently been approached by a publishing house to publish my Masters thesis, and my book – Lives in Motion: Notebooks of an Immigrant in London – will be published in Autumn 2013."


"I have had many opportunities during my time here to work with colleagues on projects, conferences and publications both within the department and College and outside, even internationally."

I started my PhD as a part-time student at Goldsmiths, then moved to full-time status once I secured funding. My funding is a collaborative ESRC studentship, which means that I still have links with my former employer and can see ways that my research can be applied outside the academic environment. I think this is a strength of Goldsmiths’ Sociology Department, which feels to me to be very outward-looking and open to new ideas. Certainly I have had many opportunities during my time here to work with colleagues on projects, conferences and publications both within the department and College and outside, even internationally.

There have been many opportunities to try new things and test boundaries, which I really appreciate, and the large number of active research students really helps to counter the risk of isolation which sometimes comes with a research degree.

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area. An MA covering methods of social research (for example, the MA in Social Research) would be a distinct advantage.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you'll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • Contact details of a second referee
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • A copy of your CV
  • Details of your research proposal

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to get in touch with the programme contact, listed above. It may also be possible to arrange an advisory meeting.

Before you start at Goldsmiths, the actual topic of your research has to be agreed with your proposed supervisor, who will be a member of staff active in your general field of research. The choice of topic may be influenced by the current research in the department or the requirements of an external funding body. You should look at the staff research interests to see if we are the right department for you and whether there is a member if staff who may match your research interests.

If you wish to study on a part-time basis, you should also indicate how many hours a week you intend to devote to research, whether this will be at evenings or weekends, and for how many hours each day.

Research proposals

Along with your application and academic reference, you should also upload a research proposal at the point of application. 

This should be in the form of a 1,500-3,000-word statement of the proposed area of research and should include: 

  • delineation of the research topic
  • why it has been chosen
  • an initial hypothesis (if applicable)
  • a brief list of major secondary sources
  • the name of a staff member who you believe would be interested in acting as your supervisor

How detailed a research proposal are we looking for on the application form? 

Obviously what you put on the form and exactly what you end up researching may be rather different, but in order to judge whether or not to offer you a place, the Department needs to know whether you have the broad outlines of a viable project. This means:

  • a project that is both worthwhile and interesting, but not over-ambitious
  • a project that can realistically be achieved within the confines of PhD on a full-time (4 years typically) or part-time (6 years maximum) basis
  • we need to be sure that you have thought about it carefully and are fully committed to the research
  • we need to be sure that you understand what is involved in doing a PhD
  • your research proposal should give us enough information to be able to interview you (if you are in the UK) or reach a decision as to whether to admit you if you are not based in the UK

When to apply 

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified. 

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying.

Fees & funding

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

For more information about applying for ESRC studentships, please see the London Social Science website, or download the ESRC Studentships Guidelines PDF.

Find out more about tuition fees.

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