Master in Sociology
Research Degrees: MRes, MPhil, PhD
The Department is committed to providing nationally and internationally recognised training in social research and equipping postgraduate students with broader transferable skills. Students applying for either the PhD or MPhil should have prior training in research methods at postgraduate level. The Department offers a postgraduate MRes (Social Research) that may be taken over one year full-time or two years part-time. The MRes and PhD together constitute our ESRC-recognised 1+3 postgraduate research programme.
The Department is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council for the quality of its postgraduate education. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the ranking of the quality of research carried out by the UK government, the department performed strongly, with 55% of research publications submitted being ranked by an independent panel as world-leading and internationally recognised. It has been rated consistently amongst the top two departments of sociology in Scotland, and in the top cohort of all departments in the United Kingdom.
All full-time graduate students are provided with fully networked personal computers and shared office space, and all postgraduate students have access to an excellent central computing service and the use of a library that is well stocked for sociology and the social sciences more generally.
The general entry requirement is a very good degree in sociology or a cognate subject, normally understood as an upper second-class honours or equivalent. Applicants for research degrees should also have completed significant research training at postgraduate level, for example through the MRes in Social Research that is taught within the department. Applicants should note that the ESRC has its own entry requirements. The department will accept appropriately qualified research students if their proposed research topic is sufficiently in line with the research interests and capabilities of academic staff.
Applicants to the MPhil or PhD must provide a detailed research proposal and two academic references from their most recent academic institution.
The Department is a mainstream sociology unit, with a broad spread of research interests. Postgraduate supervision is available in many fields.
Applicants should consult the list of supervisors available on the departmental webpages to see the specific research interests of staff. The Department is internationally known for its research particularly in these areas:
Sociology of Religion
Interests cover secularisation, sectarianism, ethno-religious conflict, religion and politics, fundamentalism, comparative religions, religion and social attitudes/values, religion and conflict resolution, religion and modernity, gender and religion
Interests cover post-violence societies and comparative peace processes, new social movements, demography and social change, European societies, globalization, international migration, and comparative value change
Cultural diversity and socio-economic inequality
Interests cover cultural representations, gender and culture, gender and the body, sociology of art, popular culture, social theory, cultural theory, global culture, cultural identity, and historical change in the family In addition to broad research themes, the Department's research activities exemplify three features that characterise our research culture.
Methodological pluralism: the use of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies
The integration of theory and empirical research methods - Attention to diverse sociological spaces and fields Methodological Pluralism
The Department has specialists in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Several staff have produced methods textbooks, and all staff have extensive experience of employing a range of different research techniques.
Research in the Department employs techniques from log linear modelling through to archival research and ethnography. There is a commitment to use research to contribute to methodological debate, and to support and enhance the methodological pluralism that characterizes sociology in Britain and elsewhere.
The Integration of Theory and Research
Most staff routinely integrate theory and empirical research in their individual projects, and as a collective research unit we engage in work ranging from theoretical exegesis through to large-scale surveys. The Department’s members undertake empirical substantive research, such as national surveys of social attitudes and values, and has members who contribute to theoretical commentary and debate.
Special theoretical interests include globalization theory, cultural theory, the Scottish Enlightenment, classical sociology and interactionist theory.
Attention to Diverse Sociological Spaces and Fields Research undertaken by members of staff moves between different sociological spaces, from the local (such as social histories of localities), the national (for example, nation-wide social attitude surveys), regional blocs (e.g. attention to the EU), and to the global (such as broad historical-comparative studies). The Department gives attention to Scotland in recognition of its geographical location, but is very much focussed on global forces and phenomena that affect many different parts of the world.
This school offers programs in: