Core papers


Demographic Analysis (MPhil)

Prof Francesco Billari

To introduce students to current scientific debates on demographic change and to provide the technical skills used in demographic research


Life Course Research (MPhil)

Dr Nicola Barban, Prof. Melinda Mills, Dr Patrick Präg

To introduce students to life course research, focussing on theoretical underpinnings, substantive applied research topics and methodological applications.


Qualitative Methods (MSc)

Dr Heather Hamill

To introduce students to the basic issues in the collection 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)

Dr James Tilley, Dr Pierre Walthery

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 for Windows. 

Option papers

An Option Circus will be held on Tuesday of 5th Week in Michaelmas Term (8 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 (18 November). It is not normally possible to be formally assessed in an option from another department.

Hilary Term 2017


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.


Civil and Political Conflict

Dr Heather Hamill

To introduce students to current social science debates on the causes and consequences of political and civil conflict.


Health and Society

Prof David Stuckler

This course provides an overview of the social and political dimensions of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide and offers a critical analysis of the causal role of policy and other factors.

Rubric: The course introduces students to the political economy of global health. It evaluates the underlying social, political, and economic causes of ill health and the role of various policies in responding. An emphasis is placed on analysing the role of institutions, aid flows, corporations, and macroeconomic changes in global health.


Intermediate Quantitative Methods

Prof John Ermisch, Dr Gregori Galofré-Vilà, Dr Patrick Präg, Dr Veronica Toffolutti

The application and interpretation of standard statistical models, mainly from the family of generalized linear models, to social science data.

Rubric: The precise topics covered will vary from year to year depending on the expertise and interests of the staff giving the lectures. In 2016/2017, we will cover: OLS regression, binary, ordinal and multinomial logit models, multilevel models, and panel data models.


Online Social Networks

Dr Bernie Hogan

The course will familiarise students with the state of network science as a paradigm comprising multidisciplinary approaches to the analysis of relational data. Students will be able to read introductory network metrics and understand how these measures speak to theories of human behaviour as well as put together an original piece of analysis using network data. Students will gain a modest understanding, via the 'sociology of science', as to why network analysis is a highly distributed field where no single software application, journal or conference covers all of the active research on social networks. Students will also learn basic data capture and analysis techniques that can enable them to begin, if not complete, a full social network analysis study.

This course is offered through the Oxford Internet Institute.


Political Sociology

Dr Steve 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.

Rubric: The social circumstances of politics and the impact of politics on society: the organization and representation of interests; the formation and change in political identities, attitudes and social cleavages, and their relationships with the political process, the nature of the state and of democracy. Candidates will be expected to be familiar with the main theoretical approaches to political behaviour and a broad range of both single country and comparative studies.


Social Movements

Dr Michael Biggs

This option aims to introduce the sociological literature on social movements, including theoretical approaches and empirical methods.

Rubric: Explanations for the origins of social movements. Explanations for the outcomes of social movements. Candidates will be expected to be familiar with at least one social movement.


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 Japanese Socitey

Prof 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 Latin America

Prof Leigh Payne

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

Rubric: Sociological concepts and theories as applied to Latin America and the contribution of scholarship on Latin America to the field of sociology. Approaches to the following topics will be explored: the state, development, poverty and inequality, nation- and state-building, social movements, gender, LGBT, religion, violence, and justice.


Sociology of Mafias

Prof Federico Varese

To examine the origins, structure, organizational norms, activities, relations with terrorism, transplantation and decline of mafia groups. To explore and tests propositions from the theory of protection. To compare and contrast different criminal groups.

Rubric: Definitions of Mafia, organized crime, the state, patronage and corruption.The Logic of protection. Property rights theory and protection theory. Origins of Mafias. Resources Mafias use. Organization, role of women and norms of Mafias. What Mafias do in legal and illegal markets. Organized Crime in non-traditional Mafia territories. Mafias and terrorism. The transplantation of Mafias. The decline of Mafias.


Sociology of the Family

Prof Christiaan Monden

The course will introduce students to current sociological / social scientific debates on the family and marriage in contemporary Western societies.

Rubric: History of the male bread-winner family and traditional marriage; Diversity in family forms; Partner selection & marriage markets; Causes and consequences of divorce; Family forms and children's wellbeing; Families and social inequalities; Division of domestic labour; Welfare policies and the family; Intergenerational solidarity in families; Family values.