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Research Degrees

Sociology at Durham is grounded in the Department's five core research themes. We welcome candidates for our research degrees who are interested in developing their own thesis in an area that intersects with these and where we have staff available to supervise.

The following research degrees are offered:

  • MA by Research
  • MPhil by Research
  • PhD 

Main research areas

The Department’s research activity focuses on five main research themes, around which we organise research groups of staff and postgraduate researchers to share and develop research ideas and practices. These groups are currently:

  • Communities and Social Justice
  • Higher Education and Social Inequality
  • Violence and Abuse
  • Health and Social Theory
  • Criminal Justice, Social Harm and Inequalities

Find out more

Disciplinary expertise

The Department also has expertise in the following disciplinary areas:

  • Criminology - Criminology and deviance, hate crime, crime reduction and prevention, forensic investigation, criminal justice systems, prisons

  • Sociology - Globalisation, science and technology, identity, culture, social capital, entrepreneurialism, social inequality, health and illness, complexity theory, methodologies

  • Social Policy - Health inequality, social exclusion, regeneration, housing, education, local and regional government, professional ethics, cultural strategies

  • Social Work - Child well-being, children’s rights and child mistreatment; adoption, fostering, and residential child care; disability, mental health and older age; green social work, post-disaster social work, professional ethics, service user involvement, community development and social change, globalisation and international social work

  • Community and Youth Work - Community development, community-based research, participatory action research, faith-based community and youth work, cross-community interaction, community-based responses to debt, ethics and politics of community development.

 Previous research topics

On successful completion of a PhD, student’s ‘etheses’ are made publicly available. A list of previous students together with their topics and published thesis are available on Durham Research Online.

Search for PhD ‘etheses’ for the department of Sociology

Postgraduate Research in Sociology

Play video 1

Postgraduate Research in Sociology

Professor Catherine Donovan is Head of the Department of Sociology and a Professor of Sociology. In this video, Professor Donovan outlines the Department’s aims and research themes.

Read more about our research themes
University student
The Department of Sociology is very supportive in fostering an inclusive environment for postgraduate students. As postgraduate researchers, we were encouraged to become active members by engaging in workshops and departmental seminars for knowledge and career progression. My supervisors were amazing and played an important role in my advancement as a researcher and becoming a better human being. Additionally, PSS members were marvellous at being responsive and attentive and were great support whenever we needed assistance. I’ve personally had an enlightening experience working with a range of researchers from diverse backgrounds, developing both personal and professional relationships.

Christopher Jones
PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology