DPhil in Sociology

The DPhil in Sociology is a research-based degree, intended for students who would like to undertake original and independent research in preparation for an academic career and other research-intense jobs. It can be taken either full-time in three to four years or part-time over six to eight years. 

During the programme, students will develop their skills by undertaking empirical research under the guidance of an academic supervisor and by participating in the department's DPhil workshops and seminars.

Apart from these DPhil-specific seminars, students will be given ample opportunities to present work in the department, and to develop research ideas and proposals with the advice and support of peers. In addition, there are a wide variety of courses, lectures and seminars taking place across Oxford that are relevant for research and allow the student to become a well-rounded sociologist.

Hear from some of our faculty and students:


Students have the opportunity to be fully involved in the department's research environment, which is characterised by a rich tradition of methodologically rigorous empirical sociology. They are exposed to cutting-edge research undertaken by the scholars in the department and the many visitors that Oxford welcomes each year.

Students that successfully complete the course will have the skills necessary to apply for academic/research positions at universities in the UK and across the world, as well as to research-intense jobs in government and international organisations, NGOs, and the private sector.


The main aim of the DPhil programme is to produce a thesis. In order to be able to award the DPhil, examiners must be able to certify that:

  • The candidate possesses a good general knowledge of the field of learning within which the subject of the thesis falls;
  • The thesis is presented in a lucid and scholarly manner;
  • The candidate has made a significant and substantial contribution in the particular field of learning within which thesis falls;
  • Examiners shall bear in mind that their judgement of the substantial significance of the work or the extent of the candidate’s contribution to knowledge or understanding of the relevant field of learning shall take into account what may be reasonably expected of a capable and diligent student after three years of full-time study.

In the second year (or fourth for part-time students), students will present a substantive chapter or paper of their thesis to the department's faculty and DPhil students. Students are also encouraged to present their work at seminars and conferences both in and beyond Oxford.

The Application Process

Admission to the DPhil programme is highly selective. Students are offered a place only if they fulfil the department's academic criteria and if appropriate supervision is available in the department. To be admitted you must be prepared to work a great deal on your own, and will need considerable personal motivation and self-discipline. You are required to have a excellent general knowledge of the field within which your research falls and of the methods appropriate to the study of this field.

The allocation of doctoral supervision takes place as part of the admissions process, and applicants should indicate their preferred supervisor on their application.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their research plans with potential supervisors in advance of making a formal application.

Potential Supervisors 

The following faculty members are eligible to supervise DPhil students. The supervision areas are intended as a guide only: please contact a faculty member directly if you would like to discuss their suitability to supervise your research proposal.