Sociology at Oxford has a strong analytical, empirical and comparative orientation. Our focus is on developing and testing theories that engage with real world puzzles and problems. Particular strengths include the statistical analysis of social surveys, collection, management and analysis of complex datasets (eg household panel studies, time-use diaries), the development of rational choice theory, micro-social experiments and simulation studies.
The Department of Sociology is primarily a graduate institution (though we also teach undergraduate papers for degrees in Human Sciences, in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and in History and Politics). Each year we accept approximately 30 students on its MSc and MPhil taught courses (around 25% of whom have full or partial scholarships or bursaries), many of whom continue to study for DPhil degrees. We also accept some qualified students (with Masters degrees from comparable institutions) directly into the DPhil research programme, which has at any point in time around 80 students.
Sociology at Oxford has a distinguished history. Illustrious names from the past include Colin Crouch, Jean Floud, Michael Hechter, Steven Lukes, Clyde Mitchell and Frank Parkin. Under A.H. Halsey and John Goldthorpe, Oxford developed a reputation for the conduct and analysis of large-scale social surveys, most notably the national Social Mobility study of 1972, which has become a classic in its field. Oxford was also the home of other important research programmes, including the CASMIN project and the British Election Studies.
The present Department builds on this tradition of empirical social research. There are five research centres:
There is a close relationship with Nuffield College's Sociology group. The Department currently has 29 faculty members, and maintains significant international sociological networks:
- EQUALSOC: With Nuffield College we are joint representatives of Oxford University in this Network of Excellence funded by the European Union's Sixth Framework Programme, and created to mobilise and develop research expertise across Europe on economic change, quality of life, and social cohesion. Leading researchers across Europe are involved in EQUALSOC activities.
- OXPO: With the department of Politics and International Relations, we also have a formal link with Sciences Po, Paris, which facilitates the research exchanges of staff and students. There are two visiting professorships, which pay a month's salary and provided office space and library access. Student exchanges are offered office space, library access, and the opportunity to meet other students and attend seminars.
- Harvard - Oxford - Stockholm Conference: The Aage Sorensen Memorial Conference for Graduate Students in Sociology is an annual series of graduate student conferences organised between the depts of sociology at the universities of Harvard, Oxford and Stockholm. Organised by graduate students for graduate students, this is an opportunity for intellectual exchange among peers and a venue to foster transatlantic cooperation.