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

Click the drop-down below to find out more about our staff's research specialities.

  • Supervision interests by staff member

    • Dr James Allen Robertson
    • Algorithmic power, big data; web scraping; text mining; python; digital cultures; software studies; hacker subculture; the Dark Web; science and technology studies; digital piracy.

    • Professor Nick Allum
    • Public opinion about science and technology; science literacy; risk perception; political and social attitudes; survey methodology; measurement error; research integrity and research practices.

    • Dr Michael Bailey
    • Critical theory; historical sociology; working-class heritage; sociology of the media and modern culture; intellectual history of ethical socialism and cultural criticism; governmentality studies; sociology of religion; cultural policy studies.

    • Dr Shaul Bar Haim
    • History of human sciences; sociology of mental health; psychoanalysis; psycho-social studies; British history; welfare state (cultural aspects); sociology of emotions.

    • Professor Robin Blackburn
    • Race and slavery; development of capitalism; historical sociology; globalisation; political economy of pension funds.

    • Professor Joan Busfield
    • Mental disorder; psychiatry, gender and mental disorder; history of psychiatry; medicines and the pharmaceutical industry.

    • Professor Andrew Canessa
    • Anthropology; oral history; indigenous peoples; Latin America; Mediterranean; ethnicity; racialisation; gender and sexuality; indigenous identities and mobilisation.

    • Professor Eamonn Carrabine
    • Crime and the media; cultural and social theory; punishment and society; sociology of art; theoretical criminology; visual culture.

    • Dr Alexandra Cox
    • Youth justice; prisons and punishment; racism, crime and punishment; resistance; sentencing; law and social work; penal abolitionism.

    • Professor Pam Cox
    • Criminal justice; social history; gender; families; youth.

    • Dr Isabel Crowhurst
    • Sexuality; gender; regulation and control; sex work, prostitution and sex trafficking; intimacy and personal lives; gender and migration; the intersection of law, subjectives and society; feminist, queer, sociological and criminological theory; comparitive methodologies and the practices of international comparative research; feminist research and methodologies, biographical-narrative research methods.

    • Dr Maitrayee Deka
    • Economic sociology; new media; pirate economy; markets, brands; indian society; gender sexuality.

    • Dr Neli Demireva
    • Migration; social cohesion; economic sociology; minorities; labour market outcomes.

    • Dr Anna Di Ronco
    • Public disorder (anti-social behaviour, incivilities); security policies; street sex work; night-time economy; health fraud scams; organisational crime; corruption and sport; media representations of harm, deviance and crime control.

    • Professor Pete Fussey
    • Surveillance and society; digital society; security and the city; terrorism and counter-terrorism; urban sociology; resilience and climate change; informal and criminal economies; human trafficking.

    • Dr Carlos Gigoux
    • Indigenous peoples; human rights; sustainable development; migration; social movements; Latin America; Japan; Taiwan.

    • Dr Ayse Guveli
    • International migration; ethnicity; turks in Europe; new migrants; religion with a special interest in Islam and Muslims; life course; stratification; intra- and inter-generational social mobility; social class with a special interest in new social classes; voting behaviour with a special interest in far-right and far-left voting behaviour; lifestyles and quantitative research methods.

    • Dr Michael Halewood
    • Social theory and philosophy; A.N. Whitehead; subjectivity; materialism; Marx; abstraction; Deleuze; Dewey; sexual difference.

    • Dr Laurie James-Hawkins
    • Social psychology; medical sociology; reproductive health; women's health; marriage and family; social norms; sexuality; gender; men and masculinity; feminist theory.

    • Dr Sandya Hewamanne
    • Gender and sexualities; developement; global assembly lines; feminist anthropology; medical anthropology; south Asia; post-colonial societies.

    • Dr Renee Luthra
    • International migration; immigrants; ethnic minorities; sociology of education; higher education; life course perspectives.

    • Dr Linsey McGoey
    • The sociology of ignorance; social theory; economic sociology; wealth inequalities.

    • Dr Ewa Morawska
    • Classical and contemporary social theory; philosophy of the social sciences; qualitative research methods; international migration; ethnicity and multiculturalism across time and space; the global, the glocal and the local; sociological analysis.

    • Professor Lydia Morris
    • See staff page

    • Professor Sean Nixon
    • Consumption and commerical cultures; advertising and market devices; masculinity, sexuality and cultural change; cultural studies; television and the natural world; cultures of nature and human-avian relations.

    • Professor Mike Roper
    • Subjectivity; psychoanalysis; twentieth century history of war; family relationships; transmission of trauma across generations; the history of psychoanalysis in Britain; history of subjectivity.

    • Dr Roisin Ryan-Flood
    • Gender; sexuality; kinship; citizenship; feminist epistemology and methodology; migration; digital intimacies.

    • Dr Anna Sergi
    • Organised crime; national security; comparative criminal law and justice; criminal policy; policing; state crime.

    • Professor Colin Samson
    • Indigenous peoples; human rights; climate change; colonialism; racism; extractive industry; the Canadian North/Arctic; the American West.

    • Professor Nigel South
    • Environmental crime, green criminology and human rights; illegal and legal drug use and markets; crime, inequalities and citizenship; theoretical and comparative criminology.

    • Professor Yasemin Soysal
    • Citizenship; human rights; education (particularly higher education); international migration; the nation, nation-state; Europe; East Asia.

    • Dr Darren Thiel
    • Social class and stratification; economic sociology; migration; globalisation and governance; globalisation and policing; the criminal justice system; social policy.

    • Profession Jackie Turton
    • See staff page

    • Dr Katy Wheeler
    • Consumption/consumer culture; ethical consumption; sustainability; recycling and waste management; sociology of food; economic sociology; qualitative research methods.

  • 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.