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Postgraduate Study


Our first-year PhD students undertake a training programme tailored to their own needs and interests, which includes:

  • Compulsory training in fundamental academic and research skills: ethics, research integrity, data security, etc.
  • Training in research methods appropriate to the student's own area of study
  • Honing academic writing skills
  • Personal and professional development opportunities

Students are encouraged to continue an active training programme throughout their studies and to attend seminars and other activities in the Department and across the University.

For students in their third and fourth years of study, we run a writing group, as well as a seminar series on publishing, careers, job applications and interviews. 

One to one supervision

The supervisor and the student meet at regular intervals throughout the PhD. The Supervisor’s role is to provide guidance on the planning and execution of the student's research and to provide  feedback on progress,.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

Research students attend the Department's bi-weekly guest seminars, as well as meetings of our research networks and reading groups.


Ongoing feedback on students' work is provided by the Supervisor through termly supervision reports. 

A formal progress review, centred on a written submission of 5000-7500 words, is conducted towards the end of the student's third term of study and each of the two assessors will write a report which gives constructive feedback and offers an overall assessment.   


Thesis / Dissertation

The PhD in Sociology may be awarded after three to four years of full-time study or five to seven years of part-time study (including a probationary period) of supervised independent research on the basis of a thesis, which must not exceed 80,000 words, and will normally be over 60,000 words (in accordance with the Degree Committee requirements).

The Degree Committee will appoint two examiners to examine the student's thesis, normally one internal examiner and one external examiner.  Neither examiner may be the student's supervisor. An oral examination is compulsory.  At the discretion of the Degree Committee, an Independent Chair may also be appointed to attend the oral examination.


A formal progress review, centred on a written submission of 5,000 - 7,500 -words, and a one hour meeting with the student's assessors, is conducted towards the end of the student's third term of full-time study or fifth term of part-time study. Successful completion of this first-year review is a precondition for progressing to the second year of study.  A similar formative progress review is also conducted after completing the second year of study. 

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Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Sociology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 1, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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