MPhil/PhD programmes and research culture

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There are two MPhil/PhD programmes in the Department of Sociology: the MPhil/PhD in Sociology and the MPhil/PhD in Visual Sociology.

The Visual Sociology programme was established in 2007 with a dedicated training programme and media laboratory, attracting six students in its first year and producing its first successful PhD thesis in 2010. These two programmes bring together a large number of graduate students with applicants coming from all over the world, including North and South America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina), the Caribbean, the Far East (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand) and elsewhere in Europe (Greece, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, Spain, Serbia, Estonia, Portugal, Hungary, Scandinavia).

Supervision is offered in a range of areas in sociology, including: race, ethnicity, religion and nationalism; gender and social life; culture and digital sociology; inventive and sensory methods and live sociology; urban culture, world cities, economies and social exclusion; life-sciences, medicine, technology and health; children and young people; human rights and political sociology; socio-legal studies and global justice; social and cultural theory; political theory and political sociology; and visual sociology. Take a look at the academic staff profiles in the department.

Much of the work of a PhD is organised through one-to-one or one-to-two supervisory sessions. Careful consideration of the best supervisor for you is important.

Students on both the Sociology and Visual Sociology MPhil/PhD programmes are able to participate in:

  • a range of methods training courses in both quantitative and qualitative methods, which introduce students to the sociological tools of the trade as well as innovative advanced methods (some developed by Goldsmiths sociologist and specific to our department). 

These methods training courses are designed to help you with your MPhil/PhD study but also to help you become a full and capable social researcher equipped with the range of advanced methods skills that we are able to offer.

Our students attend dedicated seminar series whose format and content is constantly updated. In recent years these have included: 

  • ‘Professional Development’ workshop series, where we engage with practical issues arising from students’ ongoing research, but also skills and knowledge pertinent to being a professional academic (including topics such as research ethics; preparing for an upgrade or a viva; academic networking; applying for research funding; publishing journal articles; engaging with the media, copyright and open access, and so on).
  • IN PROCESS seminar series where students have the opportunity to present their work in progress, learn chairing skills and provide mutual feedback and support as part of an active audience.
  • ‘Beginnings and Futures’ seminar series, in which new and established scholars discuss their sociological biography. Past speakers have included: Paul Gilroy, Ruth Levitas, David Hesmondhalgh, Les Back, Bevereley Skeggs, Fran Tonkiss, Nikolas Rose, John Solomos, Mary Maynard, Gregor McLennan, Steph Lawler, Andrew Sayer, Nick Thoburn, Sara Ahmed, Sonia Livingstone. 

Our community of postgraduate researchers is connected through a student-led Facebook group, enabling students to remain in touch during periods of fieldwork or while working away from Goldsmiths. Each year students visit Cumberland Lodge (one of the locations for the Oscar winning film The King’s Speech in one of the Royal Windsor parks) for an intensive collaborative research weekend. This inspiring experience resulted in the idea for two research student conferences, (Re)Creating: Methodologies, Concepts, Practices (2005), and Exploding Method (2007). We also participate in NYLON (with LSE and New York University), an international research student network which offers opportunities for PhD students to travel to meetings, with departmental support for ESRC sponsored field-trips.

The department actively fosters the full participation of research students in the local research culture, which includes contributing to departmental publications (such as Street Signs which is an illustrated magazine produced by postgraduate students associated with CUCR - the Centre for Urban and Community Research), running research blogs, hosting student-led seminars, conferences, and reading groups, inviting talks from visiting scholars and students from across the UK and overseas, constructing platforms for new forms of mediated intellectual spaces, and much more. Examples of current student-led initiatives include the creation of a Migration Reading Group and of the Goldsmiths Latin American Hub, whose activities include the compilation of a database of UK archival collections relating to Latin America and the hosting of an international conference on Connected Histories of Neoliberalisation (2016).

A Virtual Graduate School exists within the College’s online learning environment, providing additional research training, research support and online, asynchronous, interdisciplinary seminars and conferences, in order to give greater access to part-time students, and those away conducting fieldwork. Specialized seminar groups for research students are also supported by the Graduate School, with recent speakers including Gayatri Spivak, Jean-Luc Nancy and Pierre Lévy.

It is on the basis of our excellence in research training and the vibrant research culture that we have had arts, humanities and social science research council recognition (ESRC and AHRC) for a number of years. Goldsmiths is one of ten leading research institutions that are part of the ESRC-funded South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS), and one of seven leading research institutions that are part of the AHRC-funded Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South East England (CHASE). For guidance and details of the application process please visit this page for ESRC/SeNSS applications, and this page for AHRC/CHASE applications.

Dr Monica Greco is the Director of MPhil/PhD Programmes.

Bridget Ward is the Postgraduate Research Officer.

Details on how to apply and funding opportunities. For any other questions please contact the Postgraduate Research Officer.