Course information




3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time

Course overview

We offer MPhil and PhD research programmes in Sociology for full or part-time study.

The Department of Sociology is home to some 40 scholars and researchers whose work is known and cited internationally.

We offer a stimulating research environment for undertaking postgraduate research in a wide range of sociological fields, including:

  • race, ethnicity, religion and nationalism
  • gender and social life
  • sociology of culture
  • inventive and sensory methods
  • urban culture, world cities, economies and social exclusion
  • migration
  • medicine and the life-sciences, health, illness and disability
  • science and technology
  • children and young people
  • human rights and political sociology
  • socio-legal studies and global justice
  • social and cultural theory
  • political theory and political sociology
  • philosophy of social sciences
  • visual sociology

We particularly encourage cross- and interdisciplinary research in emerging fields of study and creative practice.

  • The MPhil/PhD in Visual Sociology offers candidates the opportunity to submit a portfolio of practical work as part of their thesis alongside a reduced textual component. The programme is supported by the Visual Sociology Lab, providing access to an extensive range of technical resources for audio/visual production.
  • Our community of postgraduate researchers is an integral part of the Department's vibrant research culture. We actively foster the full participation of our research students in the work of our research Centres and Units. This includes contributing to departmental publications, running research blogs, hosting student-led seminars, conferences, and reading groups, constructing new platforms for mediated intellectual spaces, and much more.
  • Doing a PhD is an amazing discipline. It shapes you in terms of your career, but also personally in terms of how you think about the world and yourself. It also has the potential to make an impact on the world. To get a sense of how, come to the department to meet us and some of the students. Email us to book an appointment.

Contact the department

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


First year 

In the week before the beginning of the academic year in September there is an Induction Programme for all new research postgraduates at Goldsmiths. You will be introduced to College and Departmental facilities and procedures, and attend workshops on what is involved in doing a research degree.

In the first year, work on your own research project is coupled with general training in sociological research methods – run both within the Department and by the College Graduate School.  Mandatory training modules take place during the first term of the first year (for full-time students) or can be spread over two years (for part-time students). You may apply to be exempted from mandatory training modules if you can demonstrate that you have already received equivalent training of comparable, MA-level standard as part of a previous qualification.

Training for students on the MPhil/PhD in Visual Sociology consists of:

  • Visual and inventive practice
  • Core qualitative research methods

You may also take other modules depending on your specific training needs, such as learning a language, or auditing an MA course, either in the Department or elsewhere, of particular relevance to your research project. You are also encouraged to attend seminars in other parts of the University of London, attend conferences, and go on outside modules such as those organised by SeNSS (South East Network of Social Science) or CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and Arts South East England).

From the beginning of your programme you will receive regular supervision, and you will be expected to produce work to be discussed in supervision.  In May/June of each year your progress and any outstanding training requirements will be formally reviewed by the Departmental Postgraduate Research Advisory Committee. 

Fieldwork, upgrade from MPhil to PhD, and writing up your thesis 

Unless you are writing a theoretical dissertation, your fieldwork or other process of data collection will typically start sometime between your first and your second year – in any case, after you have obtained ethical clearance for the research (theoretical dissertations are also subject to a research ethics approval process).

Between 18 and 24 months from your initial date of registration you are required to present a detailed thesis outline and two draft chapters for consideration by an internally appointed panel of examiners. This formal assessment (also referred to as 'upgrade') includes an oral examination and normally sanctions your transfer from MPhil to PhD registration.

You are expected to complete a PhD in three to four (full-time registration) or six to eight years (part-time registration).

Teaching Experience

Ideally, we would like all our students to gain some teaching experience. The department has Graduate Tutors and Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellows who do undergraduate teaching. We also encourage our students to do some teaching at other institutions. However, we require that all students who wish to teach have successfully upgraded to PhD status before doing so.


Assessment for the PhD in Visual Sociology consists of a written thesis (not exceeding 60,000-80,000 words) as well as a visual/aural component.

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area, of at least high merit standard. We normally also expect an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard.  

You might also be considered if you are not 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.

You do not need a degree or MA in Sociology to apply to do a PhD in Sociology, but you will need to be familiar with sociological ideas and debates. If you don’t have a background in sociology, you may be required to sit additional courses in order that you become familiar with the discipline.

International qualifications

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

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and no element lower than 6.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Annual tuition fees

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2024/2025 academic year.

  • Home - full-time: £4786
  • Home - part-time: £2393
  • International - full-time: £17690

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time under a student visa. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. 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 South East Network for Social Sciences website, and be sure to check guidelines for prospective students. 

How to apply

We welcome proposals for research in any area of sociology. We give priority to those with proposals for research within the areas of interest of our staff. When you apply, please indicate your intended research area and any preference for a particular supervisor.

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 is not mandatory)
  • Details of your research proposal

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement 

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.

We are only able to offer you a place on the programme if a suitable supervisor has agreed to supervise your proposed research. Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to study our academic staff pages to identify one or more potential supervisors for your research, and to get in touch with them to discuss your plans.  Your prospective supervisor will need to confirm their willingness and ability to supervise your thesis before an offer can be made. 

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

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 maximum) or part-time (8 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 reach a decision about whether to interview you.

When to apply 

Applications for ESRC-funded studentships must be received by 5pm (UK time) on 20 January 2020. Applications for AHRC-funded studentships must be received by 5pm (UK time) on 13 January 2020.

Applications from candidates who are self-funded are accepted throughout the year. Interviews will be arranged on an ad hoc basis.

Selection process 

Admission to the programme is based on an interview and the panel’s assessment of your application. Online interviews can be arranged when necessary. Find out more about applying.

Find out more about applying.


Sociology at Goldsmiths celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.  Research by staff in the Department is esteemed internationally, and has been externally funded by the ESRC, the AHRC, the British Academy, the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, and the European Research Council. 

Find out more about research in the Department of Sociology, including the work of our research Centres and Units.


You will develop advanced research skills covering a wide range of qualitative and practice-based sociological methods, and an ability to develop advanced and extended forms of written argument and scholarly practice.

Our PhD students have taken up academic posts in sociology and related fields all over the world. Some have joined NGOs, GOs, or companies in the private sector, and taken employment as researchers, teachers, designers, and managers.


For more information about Sociology Staff at Goldsmiths, visit the department's staff pages.

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