Core papers


Demographic Analysis (MPhil)

Dr Ridhi Kashyap

1. To introduce student to current scientific debates on different components of population dynamics, including mortality, family change and fertility, and migration.
2. To provide technical skills for computing demographic measures and models


Life Course Research (MPhil)

Dr Man Yee Kan

The course will introduce students to theories, perspectives and methodological approaches of life course research in industrialised and post-industrialised societies.


Qualitative Methods (MSc)

Professor Federico Varese

To introduce students to the basic issues in the collection and analysis of qualitative data.


Replication Project (MPhil)

Colin Mills

To introduce students to the realities of empirical research through the medium of a replication study.


Research Design (MPhil, MSc)

Colin Mills

To introduce students to a wide range of research strategies, and the basic principles in designing social research.


Sociological Analysis (MPhil, MSc)

Dr Michael Biggs

This course develops intellectual skills in explaining social phenomena: identifying puzzles, developing theoretical explanations, and testing them empirically.


Statistical Methods (MPhil, MSc)

Professor David Kirk

The lectures aim to develop the foundations of statistical thinking and to introduce the most important statistical models used in social science research. The practical classes aim to give students the skills to undertake quantitative data analysis using Stata. 

Option papers

An Option Circus will be held on Tuesday of 5th Week in Michaelmas Term (7 November) where you will have the opportunity to hear course providers talk about the various options. You are required to choose your option by 12 noon on Friday of 6th Week in Michaelmas Term (17 November). It is not normally possible to be formally assessed in an option from another department.

Hilary Term 2018


Causality: Methods of Causal Inference in the Social Sciences

Prof Richard Breen

The course introduces students to the "potential outcomes" or "counterfactual" model of causality and covers contemporary approaches to identifying and estimating causal relationships using observational data from the social sciences.

Rubric: Topics covered in the class include the potential outcomes model of causality, randomized control trials, matching, propensity score analysis, inverse probability treatment weighting, robustness and sensitivity tests, natural experiments and instrumental variables, control functions, regression discontinuity designs, fixed effects, and difference in difference models.


Intermediate Quantitative Methods

Emeritus Professor of Family and Demography John Ermisch

The application of standard statistical models to social science data and their interpretation.


Online Social Networks

Dr Bernie Hogan

The internet is but one of many networks. Every network is different in its own way but there are striking similarities, whether we refer to traffic routing, infectious diseases, friendships on Facebook or gossip on Twitter. This course represents a primer in social network analysis [SNA], a longstanding approach to the generation and analysis of network data.

SNA, also sometimes called structural analysis, has been at the forefront of many of the most considerable insights in sociology, from inequality in jobs, to political polarization. Yet, network analysis extends beyond sociology in important and significant ways. From computer science, we learn optimizations for graphs and new ways of visualizing them. From statistics, we learn which networks are likely to appear by chance. From physics, we learn of large scale cascading behaviour and ways of detecting communities. Collectively, these insights comprise a new field called network science.

In this course, we introduce many of the fundamentals of social network analysis, from graph theory through personal networks to newer network science approaches and advanced statistical modelling. Each week includes reading summaries and exercises designed to build the student’s capacity for network analysis. We conclude the course with a critical interrogation of network analysis to help circumscribe some limits to this otherwise exciting and powerful paradigm. The result is a well-rounded course designed to enable the effective use of networks in research.

This course is offered through the Oxford Internet Institute.


Political Sociology

Dr Stephen Fisher

To introduce students to advanced research in political sociology and to prepare students for doctoral research in this area. The course encourages students to become familiar with and capable of engaging with the current research issues and debates in the field. So the reading list is designed to include a selection of the most important texts and a more comprehensive list of the most recent research from the top journals and publishers. The reading list is available from the course provider on request.


Social Movements

Dr Michael Biggs

This option introduces the sociological literature on social movements and collective protest, including theoretical approaches and empirical methods.

Topics covered by this course include:

Explanations for the origins of social movements. Explanations for the outcomes of social movements. This year we will pay special attention to the movement for LBGT rights, which is arguably the most successful movement of the 1960s.


Social Stratification

Colin Mills

The paper introduces students to contemporary research on social stratification, so that they are able to apply advanced concepts and techniques to their own research problems.

Rubric: The major forms of social stratification; their relation to economic and political institutions. The course will concentrate mainly on industrial societies; the structure of social inequality; prestige hierarchies and status structures; class formation; social mobility; processes of ‘social selection’ and status attainment; social stratification and sub-cultural variations. Social stratification in relation to social integration, conflict and change, with special reference to industry and politics.


Sociology of China

Dr Rachel Murphy


Sociology of Gender

Professor Oriel Sullivan, Dr Pierre Walthery

This option aims to introduce candidates to the sociological literature explaining the causes and consequences of contemporary gender inequalities in industrialised societies.



Sociology of Human Rights

Prof Leigh Payne

This course introduces students to advanced research on sociology in Human Rights, and prepares students for doctoral research in this area.


Sociology of Japan

Professor Takehiko Kariya

The main goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the features of contemporary Japanese society as a non-western and highly advanced society from a sociological perspective and to discuss how Japanese society has changed since WWII.

Rubric: What is Japanese society?; Education; School to work transition and youth problem; Workplace and employment; Family and demography; Social welfare and social policy; Social mobility and social stratification; 'The lost decades' and the post 3.11 disaster.

Note: This course is provided with collaboration with MSc and MPhil programmes in Modern Japanese Studies in School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS).


Sociology of Mafias

Professor Federico Varese

(NB This course will not be offered in the 2018/19 academic year)

The course analyzes five criminal organizations that have emerged in different times and contexts: the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the American Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Hong Kong Triads and the Japanese Yakuza. We explore the extent to which these cases, notwithstanding their differences, share crucial characteristics and features. We examine the origins, structure, organizational norms, activities, relations with terrorism, transplantation and decline of mafia groups. We explore and tests propositions from the theory of protection.


Sociology of the Family

Michael Grätz, Dr Man Yee Kan

The course will introduce students to theories and research on the family in industrialised and post-industrialised societies.