The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate Research

Applications & enquiries are welcome from students in any of our areas of research expertise

This is represented by established strengths in family studies, health studies, and political economy, and newer strengths in sexuality, citizenship, and youth and student lives. The same emphasis on interdisciplinary social science is found in the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, where some of our PhD students are based.

Over recent years the number of PhD students registered with us has grown substantially. We aim to maintain our sizeable postgraduate body and provide high-quality postgraduate education. Our PhD students all receive a free laptop for use during their studies, and we provide research training and supervision for all research students.

We are recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as an outlet to receive full-time doctoral students.

Postgraduate Research

We are proud of our interdisciplinary research tradition covering sociology, social policy and social anthropology.

Three research groupings act as the intellectual focus for the development and exchange of ideas. All postgraduate students join one or more of these research groupings:

Sociology plays a major role in the cross-faculty Gender Research Group. Cross-school research synergies are also being promoted through research institutes including Newcastle Institute for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (NIASSH) and the Newcastle Institute for Sustainability.

We have numerous international links in our research activities and a number of our postgraduates are engaged in research abroad, currently including Taiwan, Korea, Germany and India.

Further information

To discuss your ideas and plans contact the relevant member of academic staff or the Director of Sociology PhD Programmes: Professor Bridgette Wessels

Details of how to apply and funding opportunities can be found on the Postgraduate website.

For any general information about postgraduate research please contact the Postgraduate Research Secretary Jenny Dawley at gps.pgr@ncl.ac.uk

PhD Topics

Our academic staff have identified potential research projects they would be happy to supervise and are confident would make for feasible and interesting PhDs.

If you're interested in doing a PhD in any of these areas or are keen to put forward a funding application for a DTC scholarship, you are encouraged to contact the staff member in question. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Sociology Postgraduate Research director, Bridgette Wessels.

Doctoral research community

The doctoral research community is vibrant and diverse with students engaged in a wide range of sociological, anthropological and criminological research.

The richness and range of Sociology’s doctoral scholarship is the result of not only the scope and imagination of staff expertise, but also the reflection of the international mix and socio-cultural diversity of PhD students, alongside EU and UK students, are all represented at Newcastle making it an exciting and dynamic place to study.

Doctoral students regularly lead and deliver special events and workshops, as well as seminar series, reading groups and conferences. They also engage with a number of research centres across the faculty.

Sociology plays a major role in the cross-faculty Gender Research Group. Cross-school research synergies are also being promoted through research institutes including the Newcastle Institute for Sustainability and the Newcastle Institute of Creative Practice.

We have numerous international links in our research activities and a number of our postgraduates carry out fieldwork in a range of international locations, including for example Taiwan, Korea, Germany and India.

Current doctoral students are conducting research into issues such as:

  • sexuality and gender
  • youth transitions
  • domestic violence
  • childcare, inter-country adoption and lone parenthood
  • consumption
  • social assistance
  • health care for older people
  • environmentalism 
  • digital society

See a list of our current research students and their projects.

Supervision

The selection of expert supervisors is very important in undertaking a PhD. The rich and varied research strengths of Sociology at Newcastle means that applicants have an excellent range of expertise and supervisors to draw on in developing doctoral research.

Doctoral students usually have two supervisors to ensure that students have sufficient substantive supervision, as well as the appropriate methodological expertise for a specific doctoral project. 

It is important that PhD applicants read the staff webpages and relevant research clusters and groups, it can also be very helpful to read potential supervisors’ work before applying.  It is also useful to make direct contact with potential supervisors to discuss a doctoral research topic and proposal. Applicants submit proposals online through the Postgraduate Admissions Office for review and consideration. If applicants identify, contact and develop a proposal with an academic, please include their name on the application form. 

Proposal

A research proposal is an important part of a doctoral application.

The proposal needs to written in a clear way and it should include the following:

  1. Title: this should reflect the proposed topic. At the application stage, this might well be a working title.
  2. Overview of the research: this should provide the aim and objectives of the proposed research; research questions; and how the research aligns with the research areas in Sociology at Newcastle. 
  3. Case for support: this section should discuss the relevance and significance of the research. This section should include important literature in the area of study and the identification of any existing gaps in knowledge that the research will address. This section will show an applicant’s knowledge of the subject area and make a case for the need for this research. 
  4. Research design and methodology: this section should outline the overall research design, methodology, methods and type of analysis required to address the research questions. 
  5. References: these support the argument you make in the proposal and will indicate your level of knowledge and the approach you are aiming to take. This will help the reviewers to assess your application and help to assign appropriate supervisors. 

Your proposal should outline your project and be around 1,500 words (including references and bibliography).

The following books may help you to prepare your research proposal.

  • Bell, J. (1999): Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-time Researchers in Education & Social Science, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).
  • Baxter, L, Hughes, C. and Tight, M. (2001): How to Research, (Open University Press, Milton Keynes).
  • Cryer, P. (2000): The Research Student's Guide to Success, (Open University, Milton Keynes).
  • Delamont, S., Atkinson, P. and Parry, O. (1997): Supervising the PhD, (Open University Press, Milton Keynes).
  • Philips, E. and Pugh, D. (2005): How to get a PhD: A Handbook for Students and their Supervisors, (Open University Press, Milton Keynes).