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PhD (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Duration: 3-4 years
Attendance mode: Full-time
Award: Doctorate
Suitable for international students
Start date: October, January
Faculty of Social Sciences
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All of the Academic Divisions in the Faculty of Social Sciences invite PhD applications.

The research areas are only broadly indicative, and our staff place great store by creative and innovative approaches to issues whether they are novel or familiar – and to intellectual analysis, both established and path-breaking.

Subjects we supervise include the following areas:

  • Development Studies
  • Peace Studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Criminology
  • Social Work and Social Care

See the Research section below for more information.

Why Bradford?

Undertaking a PhD is an exciting opportunity but can also be quite daunting as there are lots of stages to think about including application, arrival, admission, expectations, and progression to name but a few.

The University website for research students provides information on all of these and much more.

At the Faculty of Social Sciences, we believe it is important that, although our research students are working on individual projects, they are not working in isolation.  We offer a range of opportunities for training, developing skills, regular supervision sessions and ongoing peer support.

Entry requirements

For the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy

  • First or upper-second class degree of Bachelor at an approved university or institution
  • A higher degree at an approved university or institution
  • Exceptionally, candidates with lower than above but with experience and training as suitable preparation

Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy now register directly on the Doctor of Philosophy award.

For the degree of Master of Philosophy

  • Degree of Bachelor at an approved university or institution
  • Professional qualification approved by the Faculty Research Postgraduate Degrees Sub-Committee and suitable general education and training
  • Exceptionally, candidates with less than above but able to give satisfactory evidence of having obtained adequate standard of knowledge may be accepted by the Faculty Postgraduate Research Degrees Sub-Committee

English language requirements:

Applicants who do not have English as a first language must obtain at least a 6.5 in their IELTS scores, or have completed a degree in which the language of instruction is English.  

If you do not meet the IELTS requirement, you can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course. See the Language Centre for more details.


The modules for this course can be found in the latest programme specification.

A research degree gives you the opportunity to determine your own field of study. Your supervisor(s) will help formulate your research topic and ensure you are on schedule to complete your research on time. Research projects are, almost by definition, unique. It is not easy to describe a typical project. However, certain common features apply to all.

In order to confirm progress on your PhD a recommendation must be made by a Progression Panel proposed by your supervisor. If you opt nevertheless to submit for an MPhil then your remaining work should be accomplished in the following year. 

The second year of your PhD programme may well be taken up with actual data collection. Towards the end of the year it should be possible to attempt an initial analysis of your results.

In the third year you may conduct detailed collation and analysis of your results, and organise them into a logical and persuasive thesis.

During your fourth year, your supervisor may confirm that you are ready to submit your thesis for examination.  Following submission, your thesis will be read by two examiners and you will be required to attend an oral examination, at which you will be expected to answer questions on your thesis.

Reading lists

All reading lists can be found here.

Learning activities and assessment

In order to confirm your progression, a recommendation must be made to the Faculty Research Degrees Committee. The student is required to produce detailed documentation with a timetable of further work to completion and attend a progress meeting.  This is sometimes called a progression or transfer panel and is a compulsory university requirement.

Students will be required to go through this process between the 12 and 13 month mark of their registration. The documents required for the meeting are as follows:

  • a three-page overview report on your study, that reflects on your progress to date and raises anything that you would particularly like feedback on;
  • a substantive chapter of your thesis;
  • a research proposal;
  • a thesis planner.

These documents must be submitted 14 days in advance of the meeting.

A further monitoring meeting can be held at any time following the Progression meeting, if the supervisor thinks it is necessary. This would again take the form of a panel of academics reviewing written work, but the number of academics and the type of written work that will be reviewed is up to the supervisor to decide. Often a third monitoring meeting is held towards the end of the programme of study, and takes the form of a review of the first draft of the thesis or a mock viva.

Career support and prospects

Career support

The University is committed to helping students develop and enhance employability and this is an integral part of many programmes. Specialist support is available throughout the course from Career and Employability Services including help to find part-time work while studying, placements, vacation work and graduate vacancies. Students are encouraged to access this support at an early stage and to use the extensive resources on the Careers website.

Discussing options with specialist advisers helps to clarify plans through exploring options and refining skills of job-hunting. In most of our programmes there is direct input by Career Development Advisers into the curriculum or through specially arranged workshops.

Study Support


All new PhD students can expect an Induction Programme to welcome you to the Unviersity and the Faculty, where you will meet the Director of PG Research and other relevant academic staff.  The Faculty Induction also includes a small tour of the campus with current students and an opportunity to meet your supervisors.

The University Induction Programme is currently delivered three times per academic year for Year 1 students. The Faculty and University induction sessions are a requirement for all new PGR students across the University, whether part-time or full-time.


Students are allocated a principal supervisor and an associate, with whom you work with throughout your studies.  The supervisor(s) has a duty to monitor progress, and to do this in a way that is both searching and supportive.  But remember, one of the selection criteria for applicants, is an ability to conduct research independently and with a degree of autonomy.

Students are required to attend meetings with their supervisors.  These should be held monthly for full-time students less frequent for part-time.  Supervision reports must be completed following each meeting by the student/supervisor(s), and sent to the relevant email address.  The forms and email can be found on the Faculty Blackboard site.

Seminars and events

We organise regular seminars for our PhD students covering a range of subjects including Preparation for Fieldwork.  Students are also encouraged to attend Faculty-wide seminars.  Please see our events and podcasts pages for up-to-date information.

You are also encouraged to identify appropriate development opportunities, internally and externally, that will support your journey through your PhD.


Development Studies

Development Studies emphasises the applied and policy-relevant approaches to research, and this is reflected in the consultancy work which staff have undertaken for a number of governments and international organisations.

The Division's areas of research include:

  • foreign direct investment
  • trade liberalisation
  • the operations of multinational corporations
  • issues arising from resource-based economies
  • sustainable livelihoods
  • human rights and capabilities
  • social justice
  • water research
  • regional development challenges within the UK
  • accountability mechanisms
  • poverty
  • inequality
  • democracy

Under these broad headings, a very considerable variety of doctoral research projects find an accommodating and stimulating intellectual environment.

Peace Studies

The culture of research in Peace Studies is unique and interdisciplinary, involving field-based, theoretical and applied knowledge creation. While issues-based work remains important, theoretical research is no less valued – indeed we regard it as essential to the continuing work of trying to address some of the most vexed and troubling problems of our time.

Key focuses include:

  • Disarmament (from small arms and light weapons to WMD and biological arms control)
  • innovative work in Participation Studies including research on social class, ethnicity, gender and human rights
  • research undertaken within the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS)
  • research on development in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America on democratisation and gender and development
  • research from the pioneering Centre for Conflict Resolution on conflict analysis, peace-building from below and humanitarian intervention

Other Regions in Conflict studied include east-central Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Central America.

Peace Studies is multi-disciplinary and we invite applications from suitably qualified and motivated individuals, whatever their disciplinary background. 


The Psychology Division encompasses a range of theoretical and applied researchers.

The Division has a particularly strong focus in the areas of health psychology and behaviour change.

The Applied Health and Social Psychology Group has an increasing national and international reputation receiving Economic and Social Research Council and NHS funding for research. The Group’s work is inclusive of research on:

  • gender and health
  • motherhood
  • eating behaviour
  • health behaviours
  • alcohol and drug misuse
  • community development and practice
  • inequalities in health and mental health
  • neuropsychological disorders
  • diversity in prisons
  • identity
  • creativity
  • sustainable societies
  • PTSD research and social media
  • Suicide and social media
  • Online disinhibition
  • Attribution research
  • Cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience
  • Cognitive ageing research and dementia

Members of the Bradford Cognition and Brain Group in the Division of Psychology work collaboratively with colleagues from the Faculty of Life Sciences to explore cognitive development and neuropsychological functioning.

Sociology and Criminology

Government deliberation and public debate over social policy has never seemed more topical – and in some particulars, never more urgent.

Our vibrant Social Policy Division engages both the practical and theoretical aspects of contemporary social policy at the international, national and local levels across a wide range of issues.

These include:

  • criminal justice studies
  • policing
  • hate crime
  • racism in prisons
  • human trafficking
  • youth offending
  • families, ethnicities and identities
  • transnational identities
  • anti-Muslim racism/Islamophobia
  • ethnicity and religion
  • gender and ethnicity
  • gender and sexuality
  • violence against women
  • work-life balance in Britain and Europe
  • individualisation and new families
  • parenting and partnering
  • children and young people’s participation
  • identity and self
  • contested sexualities
  • the economics of personal behaviour

Social Work and Social Care

In addition to collaborations with Social Policy and Psychology, the Social Work Division undertakes important and timely work on a range of Social care issues.

Social care is a vital social function, and social work is one of the major means by which the state intervenes in personal welfare, yet both are often both underplayed and under-researched.

Research in this area seeks to redress the balance, when the importance of social care is re-emerging as traditional forms of working and living decay while the content and form of social work has changed dramatically over the last decade.

Current research addresses this agenda in the following linked strands:

  • understanding policy and practice with children and families in the context of gender, culture and life experience, such as family support, mothering and fathering, child welfare policy and practice, adults who were in care as children, men as sexual offenders, child sexual abuse among Asian communities, and adoption and divorce
  • religion and spirituality in social work, including the needs, strengths and difficulties that arise in practice from the religious, spiritual and other beliefs both service users and practitioners
  • the experiences of service users, including the family carers of dementia sufferers
  • the wellbeing and autonomy of older people in care
  • the organisation and management of social work, such as interprofessional working
  • ‘new managerialism’ in social work, and service organisation

Fees, Finance and Scholarships

Tuition fees

2017/18 UK/EU

  • Full-time: £4,195
  • Part-time: £2,100

2017/18 International fee

  • Full-time: £14,900
  • Part-time: £7,450

* Fees are per year and increase with inflation.

Tuition fees are subject to review for students starting their course in subsequent years. See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.

Financial support

Occasionally, the Faculty may offer a bursary or studentship.

Faculty of Social Sciences PhD Scholarships

  • Four available for September 2017 or January/February intakes. See the Scholarships website for more information.

In general, you would organise your own funding. Information about University scholarships and bursaries can be found on the Scholarships and Support pages.

How do I find out more?

Contact the Faculty

If you would like to discuss any aspect of studying for a PhD, or your research proposal, please contact:

Dr Clare Beckett
Director of Postgraduate Research at the Faculty of Social Sciences

Or contact for information about admissions. 

Steps to Postgraduate Study

Find out more about studying at a postgraduate level on the official, independent website Steps to Postgraduate Study (link opens in new window).

How to apply

Apply online:

Supporting documents

You will also be required to submit the following documents, which can be uploaded at the end of the process:

  • Degree certificates/transcripts
  • Two references
  • Evidence of English language.  If English is not your first language, we ask for a minimum standard entry requirement of 6.5 IELTS (with no sub-test lower than 5.5).  The certificate must have been gained within 2 years of the proposed start date. 
  • A copy of your passport
  • Research Proposal - Research Proposal Guidance
  • A copy of your CV

We require you to submit your application form and supporting materials electronically. This will help us to process your application more rapidly.


Applicants are required to present an outline proposal, which indicates the research area, demonstrates a grasp of pertinent theoretical literature and/or debates, posts a credible hypothesis or research question and indicates the means by which the research will be conducted.  Further guidance can be found here - Research Proposal Guidance (docx).

In addition to a strong proposal, the criteria for considering the suitability of a PhD application include all of the following factors: the quality of prior degrees (including dissertation scores); professional experience; the judgments expressed in reference letters; institutional suitability; and supervisory availability.

Applications must be submitted online; and they cannot be considered until all of the required documentation is completed.

This is the current course information. Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study.