Sociology and Social Policy PhD / MPhil

The University of Liverpool is one of the UK’s leading centres for sociology, social policy, and criminology, and has been for over 100 years. Our shared pursuit of research-based knowledge in support of social justice sets this Department apart from most of its contemporaries in the UK and beyond.

Why study with us?

Studying at Liverpool has allowed me to frequently interact with colleagues who are leaders in this field and gain widely recognised postgraduate qualifications to take forward into my future career. The diversity of the city opens up a field for research and engagement across a variety of disciplines. The University of Liverpool is a fantastic place to study.

Sarah Greenhow - Sociology and Social Policy PhD student
  • 3rd

    in the sector for research outputs classified as 'world leading' (4*) in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021)

  • 1905

    one of the world's first social science departments is established by the University of Liverpool

  • 2010

    awarded the prestigious status of ESRC Doctoral Training College


Our Department hosts four Research Clusters, which are crucial in supporting the building of external partnerships and providing a platform for knowledge exchange.

The Centre for Ageing and the Life Course (CALC) fosters research in critical and cultural ageing studies, exploring the underpinning factors shaping inequalities in ageing, as well as the subjective meaning and lived experience of health and well-being in later life.

International Criminological Research Unit (ICRU) is committed to advancing theoretically informed, empirically rigorous, and policy-relevant research in criminology and criminal justice that resonates locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

The Liverpool Sociological Research Cluster serves as a vibrant intellectual hub for sociologists. Members explore a diverse array of topics, including AI and online life, contemporary state structures, racial capitalism, knowledge production dynamics, climate emergency responses, medical artefacts, social class dynamics, cultural industries, and architecture.

The Decolonial Critique is a global network of more than 1,800 scholars, students, and activists who have an interest in theoretical and applied approaches to coloniality/decoloniality.

Research themes

Our research clusters provide the framework for delivering postgraduate research supervision and support, with students fully integrated into projects.


  • Access to Methods NorthWest, a cross-institutional initiative that promotes methodological innovation, excellence and an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Prestigious events such as the Eleanor Rathbone Lecture Series and the Engage@Liverpool 'how to' talk series where lectures and lively debates focus on innovative research methods and practice.
  • Opportunities to experience and conduct ‘real life’ research with voluntary groups and organisations across Merseyside through Interchange, our registered charity.
  • Unique, flexible opportunities for in-house Research and Development Departments to upgrade their employees’ research skills through part-time study.

Study options and fees

MPhil / PhD Duration UK students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,712
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £27,800 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £27,800 (Band A)^ or £21,850 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £21,850 (Band B)
Part time 4-6 years £2,356
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £13,900 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £13,900 (Band A)^ or £10,925 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £10,925 (Band B)

The fees stated in the table above exclude potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees’. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

* Please note that if you are undertaking a PhD within the Faculty of Science and Engineering the fee you pay, Band A or Band B, will reflect the nature of your research project. Some research projects incur a higher fee than others e.g. if you are required to undertake laboratory work. You will be informed of the fee for your programme in your offer letter.

^ Self-funded, full-time international students studying a PhD programme classified as Band A will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

Entry requirements

For research degrees we expect candidates to normally hold a UK first degree in the first or upper second class, or a second class degree plus a Masters degree or equivalent, preferably in the Social Sciences.

English language requirements

IELTS Academic requirement - SELT and non-SELT Overall 6.5 no band below 6.0
TOEFL iBT requirement Minimum 88 overall with L 19 W 19 R 19 and S 20
C1 Advanced CAE requirement Overall 176 with no less than 169 in any paper
Trinity College London, Integrated Skills in English (ISE II)ISE II with an overall pass with merit in components
Cambridge IGCSE as a First LanguageGrade C
Cambridge IGCSE as a Second LanguageGrade B
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Proficiency)Overall 176 with 169 in components
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 176 with 169 in components
Cambridge English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 176 with 169 in components

Additional requirements

Postgraduate research training expectations

If you are considering undertaking our PhD programme, you should equip yourself with a good standard of literacy in social research methods across a range of data collection, analysis and management techniques. We recommend that all postgraduate research students take modules in both qualitative and quantitative methods including, for example, SOCI508 Understanding Society Using Quantitative Methods (Semester 1);or equivalent training made available elsewhere in the university or across the MethodsNorthWest initiative.

Applying for ESRC PhD funding via the NWSSDTP

The University is a member of the ESRC North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership, and as such, if you are considering any ESRC PhD funding route via the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, you will be expected to undertake modules in both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to be compliant with ESRC Postgraduate Training and Development Guidelines These modules would include SOCI508 Understanding Society Using Quantitative Methods (semester 1) and additional modules where available/relevant, and/or equivalent requisite training made available in the university or across the MethodsNorthWest initiative.

Those applying for ESRC PhD funding who have already gained a postgraduate qualification, this requirement may have been fulfilled during your prior Masters training. However, if it has not and you are successfully awarded ESRC PhD funding to undertake a 1+3 programme, this training requirement should preferably be fulfilled during your MA or MRes programme with us, or during the first year of your (+3) PhD award at the latest.

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

More about applying for research degrees

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Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal

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