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

Newcastle Sociology has established strengths in family studies, health studies, and political economy and cultural criminology along with newer strengths in sexuality, citizenship, youth and student lives, migration and more. Our research embodies an ethos of interdisciplinary social science which is also found in the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, where some of our PhD students are based.

We are recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for PhD training and part of the NINE Doctoral Training Partnership which offers an annual competition for PhD scholarships.

Sociology at Newcastle provides high-quality postgraduate education and an inclusive, supportive research environment. Our PhD students all receive a free laptop for use during their studies, and we provide research training and supervision for all research students.

The Postgraduate students run a lively and interesting blog.

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, especially  including the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal (NISR) and also the 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 stafffind a member of our academic staff who can help support your research interests and would be able to supervise your PhD. We strongly advise applicants to identify and get in touch with a potential supervisor to discuss a proposal before applying for us formally. You can also get in touch with the  or the Director of Sociology PhD Programmes: Dr Lisa Garforth.

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


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.

PhD applicants should explore the list of supervisors below, and can look at our staff webpages and relevant research clusters and groups. It can also be helpful to read potential supervisors’ published work.  We strongly encourage applicants to make direct contact with potential supervisors to discuss a doctoral research topic and proposal before applying formally online.

Applicants submit proposals online through the Postgraduate Admissions Office for review and consideration. If you have developed your proposal with an academic, please include their name on the application form.


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).

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 not only of the scope and imagination of staff expertise, but also reflects the intellectual and socio-cultural diversity of our PhD students. International, UK and EU students are all represented at Newcastle, making it an exciting and dynamic place to study.

Doctoral students participate in and lead special events and workshops and are closely involved in the Sociology seminar series. 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
  • domestic violence
  • childcare, inter-country adoption and lone parenthood
  • end of life healthcare decisions
  • young peoples’ educational choices
  • translation professions and networks
  • online dating
  • digital society

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