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 the UK & Europe) according to the QS Rankings by Subject 2023. 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 and interdisciplinary research, 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).
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