DPhil Student Spotlight: Eilidh Macfarlane

DPhil Student Spotlight: Eilidh Macfarlane

Eilidh joined the Department in 2018, and is supervised by Professor Stephen Fisher. She is a recipient of the Grand Union DTP Scholarship and previously studied a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and an MSc in Sociology.


Eilidh Macfarlane stands in front of a bookcase

Why study Sociology?

I’m fascinated by elections, public opinion and how citizens behave politically, so from my undergrad degree I knew I was primarily interested in political sociology.

I chose to take an MSc in Sociology rather than in Politics because the breadth of the one-year MSc course appealed to me – it allowed me to specialise in my area of interest while also providing a thorough grounding in methodology. 

What first attracted you to the course at Oxford?

I studied at Oxford for my undergrad, and really enjoyed the Sociology courses I was able to take as part of the PPE degree – but I came away wanting to learn more so I applied for the MSc. I really enjoyed the thesis aspect of the masters course so decided to come back for the DPhil.

What have you enjoyed most about studying within Oxford's Sociology department?

I’ve really enjoyed the freedom of the DPhil to explore different topics that interest you.

The work I’m doing now is quite different to what I originally planned, but it’s been great to be able to follow my interests as these have developed, and to respond to political events, for example by doing research on public opinion in Scotland during the pandemic.

What piece of advice would you give to prospective students?

Not to be scared of Oxford.

It’s a big name and can be intimidating if you come from a background where studying somewhere like this feels unattainable - I certainly felt that as someone who went to a state comprehensive in the north of Scotland.

However, it’s a beautiful and remarkably friendly place to study, where you’ll be surrounded by people who are passionate about their research.

Has any of your research been published? 

My first paper on the impact of parental socialisation on class identities and party identities in Britain has recently been published in Electoral Studies!

What do you hope to do when you finish your course?

I’d like to continue researching politics, elections and public opinion in Britain, but I'm ready for a change of pace after the DPhil. As such, I've recently started a job in party politics - putting some of my knowledge and skills to use in a very different environment. 

You can get in touch with Eilidh via email.