Graduate Study

The Department of Sociology welcomes the best graduate students from all over the world. They join a community of about a hundred students who enjoy first-class facilities for studying as well as the opportunity to advance the leading edge of the discipline. Each year about thirty students enter our taught programme (MSc and MPhil degrees), which provides the theoretical and methodological foundations for advanced research. Eighty students are currently engaged in original research (for the DPhil degree). At the Undergraduate level, Sociology is studied as part of three interdisciplinary degrees. Many of our students come from the United Kingdom and other European countries; we also attract students from all over the world, from Bangladesh to Zimbabwe which makes for a diverse student culture and a vibrant learning environment. We prepare students for academic careers in the field, but we also celebrate the substantial number of our graduates working in government, in diplomatic services, and in senior positions in the private sector.

MSc in Sociology

This taught course provides training for careers in social research and prepares students for doctoral work in Sociology. This 12-month course has four main components: Sociological Analysis, Research Methods, Optional Papers, and Thesis.

Degree Structure

Our MSc degree is a one-year full-time taught course. In the first two terms, students take Sociological Analysis, Research Methods (consisting of Research Design, Qualitative Methods, and Statistical Methods) and two Optional Papers. After the second term, students work on research for their MSc Thesis and sit Exams during the third term.


By choosing two Optional Papers and a related thesis topic students can create various specialised pathways with expert supervision and teaching. Here are some potential supervisors in each main area:


The MSc Thesis consists of an original sociological analysis carried out by the student under guidance of his/her supervisor. The thesis is roughly equivalent in length to a long journal article (not more than 10,000 words) and is submitted on or before 1 September.


MPhil in Sociology and Demography

The MPhil introduces students to contemporary theories and research methods on the intersection of Sociology and Demography. This 21-month course prepares students for doctoral work in Sociology and Demography and research-intense jobs.

Degree Structure

The curriculum emphasises 1) population-level analysis and demographic measures; 2) a life course approach; 3) sociological analysis as the key approach to explanation; 4) advanced quantitative methods. This emphasis is reflected in the compulsory papers. Optional papers and the thesis will reflect either a more specialised topical study (e.g., gender, family & fertility; migration & integration of migrants; health & mortality; intergenerational relationships) or methodological work.

The MPHil programme degree will be particularly interesting for students with undergraduate degrees in: Sociology, Human Sciences, PPE, Social Policy, Economics & Management, Social Statistics, Geography, Public Health, and general social science degrees with substantial methods training.

Successful students can either continue with a DPhil in Oxford (or doctoral studies elsewhere) or find placement in research-intensive occupations in the public sector (e.g., ONS and other national statistical offices, government departments and regional/local authorities), in international organisations, think tanks, and in private sector occupations in which quantitative skills are highly valued (consulting, market research, health research, social research, and insurance companies).

The MPhil programme has the following components:

  • Sociological Analysis (year 1)
  • Demographic Analysis (year 1)
  • Life Course Research (year 1)
  • Statistical Methods (year 1)
  • Research Design (year 1)
  • Two Optional Papers (year 1 & 2)
  • Replication Project (year 2)
  • MPhil Thesis, a substantial piece of original research (max 30,000 words) to be submitted by the end of May in year 2.

DPhil in Sociology

The DPhil in Sociology is a research based degree. It is a full-time, three year programme of doctoral study which is intended for students who would like to undertake original and independent research in preparation for an academic career and other research-intense jobs. The DPhil is examined by a thesis, prepared under guidance of one or two academic supervisors.

Degree Structure

The DPhil programme offers training to prepare you for academic life and the job market. You will develop your skills by undertaking research under the guidance of an academic supervisor and by participating in the Department's DPhil workshops and seminars. In addition, you will find a wide variety of courses, lectures and seminars taking place all over Oxford, that are relevant for your research and allow you to become a well-rounded sociologist.

As a research student, you will have the opportunity to be fully involved in the department's research environment, which is characterized by a rich tradition of methodologically rigorous empirical sociology. You will be exposed to cutting edge research undertaken by your supervisor, scholars in the department and the many visitors that Oxford welcomes each year.

Admission to the DPhil programme is highly selective. Students are offered a place on the DPhil programme only if they fulfil the Department's academic criteria and if appropriate supervision is available in the department. To be admitted you must be prepared to work on your own a good deal, and will need considerable personal motivation and self-discipline. You are required to have a excellent general knowledge of the field within which your research falls and of the methods appropriate to the study of this field.

Our students have gone on to academic/research positions at universities in the UK (e.g. Cambridge, Essex, LSE, Manchester, and Durham) and across the world (e.g. UCLA, Yale, Penn, EUI Florence, Berlin, Stockholm, Hong Kong) and to research-intense jobs in government and international organizations (e.g. OECD), NGOs, and the private sector (e.g. banks and marketing).


Students on the DPhil programme studey many diffent topics, including, but not limited to, the following (listed with potential supervisors):