MPhil in Sociology and Demography

This MPhil introduces students to contemporary theories and research methods at the intersection of Sociology and Demography. The 21-month course prepares students for doctoral work in Sociology and Demography and for research-intense jobs.
Students are introduced to contemporary approaches to the study of population change and its consequences. These approaches explicitly join the macro approach of traditional demography with the multilevel, actor-oriented life course approach.
Hear from some of our faculty and students:

The MPhil curriculum emphasises: 
  • population-level analysis and demographic measures
  • the life course approach
  • sociological analysis as the key approach to explanation
  • advanced quantitative methods

The programme will be particularly interesting for students with undergraduate degrees in: Sociology, Human Sciences, PPE, Social Policy, Economics & Management, Social Statistics, Geography, Public Health, and general social science degrees with substantial methods training.

Successful students can either continue with a DPhil in Oxford (or doctoral studies elsewhere) or find placement in research-intensive occupations in the public sector (e.g., ONS and other national statistical offices, government departments and regional/local authorities), in international organisations, think tanks, and in private sector occupations in which quantitative skills are highly valued (consulting, market research, health research, social research, and insurance companies).


MPhil students take four compulsory Core Papers and two Optional Papers. They will also undertake a Replication Project and an MPhil thesis.

The Core Papers are:

  • Sociological Analysis, which develops intellectual skills in explaining social phenomena: identifying puzzles, developing theoretical explanations, and evaluating empirical evidence 
  • Demographic Analysis, which introduces students to current scientific debates on different components of population dynamics, and provides technical skills for computing demographic measures and models
  • Life Course Research, which introduces students to the theory and methodological approaches of life course research
  • Methods of Social Research, which introduces students to statistical methods and the research design process

Optional Papers and the thesis will reflect either a more specialised topical study (e.g., gender, family & fertility; migration & integration of migrants; health & mortality; intergenerational relationships) or methodological work.

Through choosing their Optional Papers and a related thesis topic, students can create their own specialised pathway during their degree, support by expert supervision and teaching.


Example topics of focus and potential supervisors within the Department:

The Replication Project and Thesis

MPhil students will undertake a Replication Project and a thesis.

The Replication Project module aims to introduce students to the realities of empirical research through the mediums of replication and open science, with the objective being the replication and a modest extension of a piece of recently published work. Students are assessed by a paper detailing their attempt to replicate published research findings.

The thesis consists of a new and substantial analysis of up to 30,000 words on a sociological and/or demographic topic, to be submitted by the end of the second year.