MPhil Student Spotlight: Zijia Tan

MPhil Student Spotlight: Zijia Tan

During her undergrad, Zijia studied Sociology and English at Tsinghua University, before joining Oxford Sociology and St Antony's College in 2022. She is now in her second year of the MPhil in Sociology and Demography.
Image of Zijia Tan

Why do you study Sociology and Demography?

Exploring sociology is a natural extension of my undergraduate studies. I’m always curious about the origins of phenomena in everyday life, attentive to individual development, and concerned about societal issues.

My interest in demography arises from an appreciation of the significance of quantitative research methods. I’m eager to enhance my proficiency in statistics and delve into the most advanced methodologies to address real-world challenges.

What do you enjoy most about studying in Oxford?

The Department organises seminars every week where outstanding researchers share their studies. This provides students with insights into various cutting-edge studies in sociology.

It’s not only engaging, akin to listening to stories, but also offers valuable learning opportunities.

Especially for MPhil students, the demography-focused classes and discussions are highly beneficial. Our cohort is relatively small, ensuring every student has the chance to voice their opinions. Moreover, effective discussion sessions contributed significantly to the improvement of my coding skills.

This setup helped me quickly integrate into the academic environment at Oxford.

Zijia Tan standing outside and wearing Subfusc following her Matriculation Ceremony

Zijia Tan during her Matriculation Ceremony

What first attracted you to the Department?

Its world-leading expertise in quantitative research and research topics related to population health!

Where do your research interests lie?

I'm interested in looking at health and wellbeing, gender inequalities, family sociology, and social intervention.

My MPhil thesis is a longitudinal study examining how certain healthy behaviours change after individuals have children and whether these changes are consistent for each child they have. By answering these questions, I aim to contribute valuable insights to the fields of health, gender, and family studies. 

Who is your academic hero?

While I may not have an academic hero, there’s a quote that has profoundly impacted me since I first immersed myself in sociology. I’d like to share it here: 

“I have tried to be objective. I do not claim to be detached.” - C. Wright Mills.

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

I look forward to continuing my exploration of areas that interest me, whether by pursuing a DPhil or engaging in professional work.

Utilising my expertise in sociology and demography, I want to make meaningful contributions to the improvement of human wellbeing.

What piece of advice would you give to prospective students?

Academically, if you possess a keen interest in quantitative research, the Sociology Department at Oxford would be an excellent choice!

While it may take some time to catch up without a prior background, the learning curve is substantial.

Foster regular communication with supervisors (they are truly remarkable!) and actively participate in discussions with classmates (who are also exceptional).

Don’t hesitate to ask questions when uncertain; everyone is supportive, and there’s no such thing as a “stupid” question.

Beyond academics, enjoy the little things in life! 

You can get in touch with Zijia via email.