Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

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School of Sociology and Social Policy
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PhD and MPhil

About the PhD

A PhD is the most internationally-recognised research qualification. Studying for a PhD allows you to become an expert in your chosen specialist area, and gain high quality research training that will equip you to undertake subsequent research projects. You carry out original research under the guidance of two supervisors and will produce an original thesis of approximately 100,000 words.


A PhD can be taken full-time or part-time.

  • Full-time: three years standard, four years maximum.
  • Part-time: five years standard, seven years maximum.


For the first twelve months, or eighteen months if part-time, you will be enrolled as a provisional PhD student. In this period, you develop a detailed research proposal and write a literature review. This work is then submitted to a panel of examiners who assess it and provide you with feedback and advice on the progress of your research.

This procedure is called 'upgrading' and is an important means of monitoring the progress of your work, assessing, amongst other matters, whether your proposal has enough weight to be accurately explored through a PhD research path.

After successfully upgrading, you will enrol as a full PhD student, complete your research and write a thesis of approximately 100,000 words. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded on the basis of this thesis, and your viva voce, where you present and discuss the rationale, methods and findings of your original study with an examining panel.

Get in touch

If you are interested in a PhD in the school and would like to discuss your proposal with our Postgraduate Research Tutors please contact Yasmin Hussain        (y.hussain@leeds.ac.uk)


About the MPhil

The MPhil is awarded on the basis of a thesis of around 60,000 words and a viva voce.


An MPhil can be taken full-time or part-time.

  • Full-time: two years standard, three years maximum.
  • Part-time: four years standard, six years maximum.

You will not be required to undergo a transfer assessment.  However, progress will be reviewed annually in the same way as for PhD candidates.  MPhil candidates are not normally permitted to transfer to registration for the degree of PhD.

Research training and skills

Normally, we expect our PhD students to have completed an ESRC-accredited research training programme equivalent to the MA in Social Research provided by the School.

The MA in Social Research, in these circumstances, often forms the first year of a 1+3 scheme of study. Some applicants, however, may already have substantial research experience that we can take into account.

Although we cater for diversity of backgrounds, PhD registration will always involve a doctoral programme, in which you will undergo research training, alongside the preparation of the thesis.

We assess the specific research needs of all prospective PhD students each year, and you will probably undertake further training to ensure you have the necessary research skills.

As part of the ESRC funded Doctoral Training Centre, the ESRC accredits the school for the 1+3 and +3 schemes. We expect all PhD students to complete the required research training, equivalent to the MA Social Research by the end of the first full year of their PhD.

Consequently, if you are an overseas and 'non-standard' student, you should be aware that we need you to demonstrate you already have, or are willing to undertake, the required research training.

However, we understand there will always be exceptional cases and situations where the specific research needs of a student have to be considered and the School tries to tailor the research training to individual needs.

For further information, please visit PhD research training.

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