Students Staff

PhD courses

We're rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), with 78% of our research rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'. We're also ranked among the top 50 departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings (2017).

That means, you work with world-leading scholars who have their finger on the pulse of modern society, in an exciting and active research environment.

Routes to a PhD

  1. PhD by research (+3/+6): If you have a strong background in sociology and a well-formulated research proposal, you will be admitted directly to supervised research.
  2. Integrated PhD (1+3/+7): In your first year you follow one of our pathways which provides Masters-level research training, followed by three years of supervised research.

Our courses

Supervision areas

We offer supervision that stretches out across Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Asian sub-continent. We have particular strengths in:

  • criminology and social justice
  • culture and media
  • economic sociology
  • ethnicity and migration
  • citizenship and human rights
  • intimacy and gender
  • science in society
  • social theory and methodology
  • survey methodology

This isn't an exhaustive list however, so if you're looking to carry out research in a different area please contact us to discuss it further.

PhD funding

We're home to a number of doctoral training centres; research council funded programmes that offer funding and training via studentships. Two of the Essex doctoral training centres offer PhD studentships in sociology:

We also offer many other scholarships and funding opportunities. You can search our Scholarship Finder to see what's available.

You'll need to apply for your course and have a place before you apply for funding.


You can apply using our online application form. You'll also need to send us additional information, depending on your circumstances, so don't forget to read the information carefully as we won't be able to process your application until we have the completed documents. You'll normally need to provide the following documentation.

  • A research proposal (approximately 1,500 words) stating the key question(s) that your research will address, the indicative scholarly literature that you will engage, and your intended research methods (data sources, data collection, and analysis)
  • A statement of purpose (approximately 500 words) specifying your level of experience, strengths in particular academic areas, and other relevant background information
  • Two academic references
  • Academic transcripts or certificates
  • A language certificate (if relevant)
  • The name of your proposed supervisor (before you submit an application, look at our staff research interests and contact the member of staff whose research interests match the areas of your intended research, to discuss your topic and possibilities of supervision)
  • All PhD students will need an interview before an offer can be made. The department will contact you to arrange the details but please read the interview guidelines (.pdf)

Got a question?

To find out more about our postgraduate research courses, contact our Graduate Administrator Michele Hall, at

Research degree funding

Scientist conducting experiment

Join our internationally recognised research community. We’re home to several doctoral training centres and offer many research degree studentships and scholarships that could make your course fully-funded.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.

Funding and training


Our Doctoral Training Centres offer PhD funding and skills training in a wide range of subject areas. You'll gain the skills and knowledge to tackle important issues facing the world today.



Proficio is our programme of courses and resources for research students. It includes everything available across our University to help you manage your PhD, develop your career potential, and meet and collaborate with students and staff.