Sociology at Oxford has a strong analytical, empirical and comparative orientation. Focus is on developing and testing theories that engage with real world problems. Particular strengths include demography, life course research, family sociology, international comparative research, criminology, collective action, political sociology and gender.
Oxford has a long and distinguished history of sociological research. Some of the most well-known and influential sociological studies in the UK, including the Oxford Social Mobility Survey, the Social Change and Economic Life Initiative, and the British Election Survey series, were led by Oxford sociologists. The Department of Sociology was established in 1999 to provide a renewed focus for sociological research and teaching within the University.
Our international reputation remains widely recognised. Sociology is currently ranked second in the world (and first in UK & Europe) according to the QS Rankings by Subject 2021. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 judged 63% of Oxford’s sociological research to be 4* – the highest score available, indicating research quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour. This result is the highest overall percentage of research judged to be 4* in the UK within the unit.
As well as undertaking cutting-edge research and hosting the interdisciplinary Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (LCDS), the Department carries out the full range of postgraduate teaching and research, provides teaching and support for undergraduate courses administered by other departments, and has around 60 staff and 100 graduate students and academic visitors.
The Department offers two taught courses: a one-year MSc in Sociology and a two-year MPhil in Sociology and Demography, which together have an intake of about 30 students per year. In addition, around 15 doctoral students are admitted each year. The Department of Sociology also offers teaching for the undergraduate degree programmes in Human Sciences, History and Politics, and Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).
Research Centres and Networks
The Department of Sociology's research centres and networks include the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (LCDS) and the Extra-legal Governance Institute (ExLegi).
Find out more about our centres and networks
Working with us
There is a close relationship with Nuffield College's Sociology group. The Department currently has 23 faculty members, and maintains significant international sociological networks:
- 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.