Research in Sociology at Kent covers a range of areas, including social and critical theory, social movements, globalisation and everyday life, cities and space, media and technology, class, ‘race’ and ethnicity, gender, work, visual sociology, the welfare state, risk and society, violence, NGOs and organisations, and social aspects of the body.
We offer high-quality supervision across a wide range of areas and we work carefully to match you with a supervisor who suits your interests and ambitions. In addition to regular meetings with individual supervisors, all research students take part in a research training programme.
There are further details on the research activities and publications of individual members of staff and the School’s research units on the School’s website.
Our School has a long and distinguished history and is one of the largest and most successful social science research communities in Europe. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Social Work and Social Policy research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or 'internationally excellent' for impact and environment.
The School supports a large and thriving postgraduate community, and in 2010 distributed to new students in excess of £100,000 in Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) quota awards, University and SSPSSR bursaries and scholarships.
Our faculty staff are world authorities in their fields. Members attract large research grants from bodies such as the ESRC, the British Academy, Arts and Humanities Research Council, European Commission, Anglo-German Foundation, NATO, Equal Opportunities Commission, National Probation Service and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. We take part in international symposia and research projects, and act as consultants and advisers to a wide variety of government departments, professional organisations, research funding bodies and learned journals.
A good honours degree or MA in Sociology or a related social science discipline.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: MA 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
PhD 3 years full-time, 5 years part-time
The 2024/25 annual tuition fees for this course are:
Sociology - MA by Research at Canterbury
Sociology - PhD at Canterbury
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
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In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Social Work and Social Policy research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or 'internationally excellent' for impact and environment.
Following the REF 2021, Social Work and Social Policy at Kent was ranked 3rd in the UK in the Times Higher Education.
Academic staff at Kent share a number of interests, grouped here for your guidance. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups and your research project does not have to fall neatly within any one of them. The School also has several research centres that bring together experts in the field, co-ordinate research, organise talks and offer opportunities for postgraduate students to get involved in discussions and research projects.
Social and political changes have stimulated new forms of political participation and mobilisation, including waves of protest, new social movement organisations focused on old as well as new issues, new political parties and global social movements. Staff interests include environmental movements, student activism, animal rights, humanitarian NGOs, and the ‘postmodern’ politics of anti-communist movements in Eastern Europe.
Staff in this research cluster seek to: understand the social forces and cultural interests that move people to take moral responsibility for responding to/caring for the needs of others; document and explain the institutional organisation of charitable behaviour and its social impacts; the socio-cultural dynamics of philanthropic behaviour and its effects on society. They also perform research into contemporary humanitarianism and its powers of influence over social policy and political process; and the character of the social ties and cultural values that structure the interrelationships between humanitarian action, charitable endeavour and philanthropic intervention; as well as the bearing of government policies and governmental processes upon the charitable sector and philanthropic activity.
The School has a long-established tradition of conducting criminological research. The group covers a diverse range of topics, employs both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and draws upon different theoretical traditions. We have particular expertise in the following areas: cultural criminology; crime, punishment and social change; drug use; gender, crime and criminal justice; penology and imprisonment (especially of female offenders); policing; quasi-compulsory treatment for drug-using offenders; race, crime and criminal justice; restorative justice and young offenders; crime and the ‘night-time economy’, terrorism and political crime; violence; youth crime and youth justice.
Present and current research has been funded by the ESRC, the Home Office and the Youth Justice Board.
Using the framework of studying different welfare regimes, academic staff research a wide range of topics, while postgraduate students conduct research projects in every part of the world. Many of these projects involve overseas students making comparative studies involving their own country and European or UK services. The work of academic staff has resulted in a wide range of policy research related to Europe. Recent cross-national work has included projects examining home care services for older people, formal and informal social care systems, institutional change and the future of welfare reform, industrial relations, housing and community activism. Other interests include globalisation and welfare, and subsidiarity and convergence. Current or recent thesis topics include: democratisation and social policy in Korea; youth homelessness in Greece and the UK.
Research at Kent addresses how gender is constructed and how it operates in a variety of social realms. Some of our recent projects have focused on gender in prisons, on women working as door staff in nightclubs and on how women are addressed in advice on pregnancy. Our research on social policy also includes a focus on gender, examining how men, women and families are affected by legislation and service provision.
At Kent, research in this area includes the role of global civil society, critical analysis of terrorism and responses to it, globalisation and everyday life, migration, the role of communication technologies, and the global expansion of capitalism and responses to it in social movements.
Within this area, staff have worked on the ‘culture of anxiety’ and the ‘therapy culture’, the impact on individual lives and experiences of masculinity, gender, race and ethnicity, parenthood and nationality. Other interests include the social context in which attributions of mental illness are made and managed, the meaning and construction of pain in late modernity, and the sociology of crime and deviance.
Staff share a research interest in the social role of the media, how media are used and how they are changing. Research at Kent has included work on the role of the media in constructing social problems and moral panics, media and crime, new media, media and subcultures, and the role of media in representing space and identity.
Though socially and discursively constructed, ‘race’ continues to be a key basis of social division and identification in British society, across Europe, and globally. Not only do many disparate ethnic minority groups continue to identify along ethnic, racial and religious lines, but ethnicity and race continue to shape a variety of outcomes, such as employment, educational attainment and senses of ‘belonging’. In this sense, ‘race’ and the recognition of difference continues to matter and is a key element in the School’s research interests.
The critical analysis of risk and perceptions of risk have become central issues in the sociology of the ‘risk society’ and this is an important focus of activity in the School. Staff research includes work on health risks and their management, the implications of attitudes and behaviour concerning risk for the welfare state, the development of a culture of risk and anxiety, moral panics, risk and crime, risk and the life course, suffering, and the perceptions of new communications technology.
Staff working in this cluster study issues such as classical social theory, the impact on social theory of the fall of communism, and the theoretical implications of the changing boundaries of social life. This has further entailed work on the integrity of auto/biography as a form of social information and its impact on diverse disciplines of feminist perspectives.
In this research cluster, staff seek to understand the complex relationships between embodied subjects, and the social and cultural forms, relationships, institutions and structures that shape and are shaped by these actors. This includes research on clothing and fashion, the embodiment of age, and the body in health and social care. Thesis topics within this cluster have included female binge drinking, female body builders, tattooing and piercing, and the embodied sociology of private spaces.
Staff share an interest in the visual dimension of social life. How is life seen; how are images created, stored and used? In various research projects, we also explore the use of images in innovative forms of research design and in sharing our findings.
Interest in the issues surrounding work stretches across SSPSSR and current projects focus on work identity and meaning; work/life balance; age, generation and employment; visual representation of work; deindustrialisation; organisational sociology; gender, ethnicity and class at work; historiography of work sociology; moral economy; workplace ethnography and oral histories.
The School also has several research centres that bring together experts in the field, co-ordinate research, organise talks and offer opportunities for postgraduate students to get involved in discussions and research projects.
The Centre for Child Protection is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and is the first centre of its kind in Europe. Combining research with distance learning programmes and a range of innovative serious training games, the Centre for Child Protection is leading the way in building knowledge and training opportunities for professionals working in this area.
We aim to:
The Centre is led and informed by a team of experts in the field of child protection. With many years of experience in both research and practice, we are committed to improving the provision of continued professional development to enhance the skills of those involved in child protection.
The Centre for Health Services Studies has a strong record in attracting research grants from the National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework Programme, ESRC, Department of Health, as well as local health authorities and trusts. It is a designated NIHR Research Design Support Service. Particular areas of expertise include pragmatic trials, risk assessment and management, care of vulnerable adults including older people, and public health.
Based in SSPSSR, the Centre is inter-disciplinary, with associates in other Schools at the University, including Law and Psychology, and at other universities in the UK and internationally.
While CPCS associates have diverse research interests, the common view is that child-rearing as a social activity needs to be distinguished from ‘parenting’ and the culture that surrounds it. The work seeks to show how the role and meaning of parenthood has changed in recent years. The expansion of the child-rearing role has also encouraged the belief that ‘parenting’ is a problematic sphere of social life. Indeed, ‘parenting’ is almost always discussed as a social problem. Many social factors have sought to turn child-rearing into an object of policy making, encouraging the emergence of the activity ‘parenting’. The causes and effects of this policy turn is another central area of the Centre’s research.
Dedicated to an understanding of the social processes and cultural experiences by which people acquire moral dispositions to care for others, the Centre for Philanthropy offers a focal point for much of this work. Research is conducted into the ways in which our capacity for feelings are socially cultivated, corporately structured, politically mediated and economically expressed. The School is also linked to the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC), collaborating with the University of Birmingham on third sector theory and policy analysis.
The Centre was established in 1992, and since then has helped the University of Kent gain wider recognition as a leading institution in the study of social and political movements in the UK. The Centre has attracted research council, European Union, and charitable foundation funding, and collaborated with international partners on major funding projects. Today, the Centre continues to attract graduate students and international visitors, and facilitate the development of collaborative research. Recent and ongoing research undertaken by members includes studies of Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, veganism and animal rights.
The Centre conducts research into the concept of risk and uncertainty: how and why risk is manifested and how it is experienced in today’s society. Staff take an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing upon sociology, law, social psychology, and history. The Centre’s research seeks to understand causal issues from the perspectives of both individuals and organisations while considering the wider political and social context.
The PSSRU is the largest social services research unit in the UK, and operates at three sites: the University of Kent, the London School of Economics and the University of Manchester. Facilities include the Griffiths Library of Community Care, a reference library of more than 10,000 books, journals and other literature linked to the Unit’s field of study. Research focuses on needs, resources and outcomes in health and social care: major concerns are resourcing, equity and efficiency from the perspective of users, agencies and others. The Unit has developed a distinctive analytical framework called the ‘production of welfare approach’ to illuminate this research.
The University of Kent is one of 15 universities in the UK to have a Q-Step Centre, significantly funded by HEFCE, the Nuffield Foundation and ESRC, to provide students with advanced training in quantitative methods in social sciences.
The Centre is based in SSPSSR and incorporates teaching from Politics and International Relations, Law, Business and Liberal Arts. At its heart is the delivery of quantitative skills training in a subject context, a community-based project and professional placements. Quantitative Methods (QM) training, which greatly enhances employability and provides a deeper and more secure grasp of the quantitative skills needed to evaluate evidence and analyse data within a discipline, is delivered in a practical and engaging manner.
The Tizard Centre is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and has excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments. The Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual disability and community care, and in 2013 received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas.
Our primary aims, through research, teaching and consultancy, are:
The Tizard Centre is recognised as leading the field in deinstitutionalisation and community living, challenging behaviour, quality of staff support, sexuality and autism, and has had a significant impact on national policies in these areas. We are committed to addressing issues arising from social inequality.
Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we place considerable emphasis on you gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject alongside core transferable skills. We ensure that you develop the skills and competences that employers are looking for including: research and analysis; policy development and interpretation; independent thought; writing and presentation as well as time management and leadership skills. You also become fully involved in the professional research culture of the School.
A postgraduate degree in the area of sociology is a particularly flexible and valuable qualification that can lead to many exciting opportunities and professions. Our graduates go on to work for a range of organisations across the public, private and third sectors, and typically pursue careers which involve specialist research and data analysis skills. Recent graduates have worked for Government, NGOs, charities and think tanks as well as global media organisations.
Our postgraduate students have access to dedicated office space within the department and are able to take advantage of excellent library and computing facilities. Where appropriate, research students are encouraged to expand their experience by teaching part-time in the School.
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Theory and Society; Sociology; European Journal of Social Theory; The Sociological Review; and International Sociology.
Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.