Since 2012-13, new entrants and continuing students are expected to follow a set of modules and seminars which form an integral part of the Sociology PhD Programme. The programme combines in-depth social scientific methodological training with transferrable and generic skills tailored to the needs of Sociology graduates. It consists of the following core components:
- Advanced Social Research Methods - Thursdays 13:00-15:00 in Michaelmas Term (Lecturer: Dr Jan Skopek) Venue: PX201 (Phoenix House, Nassau Street). Topics covered in the research methods module can be found further below.
- Sociology Research Seminar Series - Convenor: Prof. Richard Layte, Wednesdays 15:00-16:00 Venue: 6th floor, Conference Room, Arts Building.
The Advanced Social Research Methods module, co-taught with the MPhil in Race, Ethnicity and Conflict during Michaelmas Term , :
Part I (MT): Week 1–6 delivered by Dr Bobek, Week 8–12 by Dr Skopek.
Part II (HT): Week 13–18 delivered by Dr Bobek, Week 20–24 by Dr Skopek.
- One methodological/theoretical workshop in the candidate's area of expertise OR One module from the Innovation Academy in either the second or third year of the PhD.2
- Presentation of PhD in-progress within the Sociology Research Seminar Series in either the third or fourth year of the PhD. Second years can volunteer.
The confirmation of continuation on the PhD register process shall normally be arranged within the first year of registration extended by a further year for PhD students on the part-time register. The process forms an essential part of the student’s learning experience. Students who wish to continue on the PhD register need to have completed (1) the social research methods module and (2) the PhD Skills Suite. They should have regularly attended (3) the Sociology research seminar series and (4) PhD workshop.
It is the responsibility of the PhD student and his/her supervisor to familiarise themselves with the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy's Ethics Policy. Research students should discuss possible ethical implications of their research plans as early as possible and supervisors are obliged to advise research students about potential ethical issues in the early stages of the postgraduate trajectory. Students can apply at any stage in their first year but the process must be completed by the time of the confirmation interview in June. There can of course be additional ethical approval applications in subsequent phases of research. The research ethics checklist needs to be signed off by the Departmental ethics officer, Dr Peter Muhlau (firstname.lastname@example.org) to assess the need for a certificate of ethical approval by the School.
In addition, students need to submit a first-year report (6,000-8,000 words). The format of the report may vary according to the nature of the research but as a general guide it is suggested to include (1) an introductory section stating your research aims, critically reviewing existing literature to inform the formulation and specification of your research question(s); (2) a theoretical and/or conceptual section which includes a discussion of how theoretical or conceptual aspects informed your project; (3) a section on methodology which discusses the design, access and sampling, data collection tools, data analysis technique(s) as well as ethical issues, [including confirmation of ethics release]; (4) a timetable; and (5) a bibliography. Five copies should be submitted to the Sociology Department Office before the end of May. Students with compelling reasons may petition via their supervisor, who will consult with the Departmental Graduate Director and Head of Department, to have their confirmation review postponed to September, one year from their entry to the programme.
The student shall be invited to attend a PhD first-year confirmation interview. The PhD confirmation panel for each student is appointed by the Departmental Graduate Director (as nominee of the School’s Director of Teaching and Learning (Postgraduate) and shall consist of at least two Department members drawn only from staff eligible to supervise, as follows: the Departmental Graduate Director and a second member of the Department with acknowledged expertise in the subject area of the student’s research (or in a cognate field). The Departmental Graduate Director makes the final decision about membership of the PhD confirmation panel in consultation with the supervisor and will endeavour to take into account the student’s opinion. The Supervisor shall not be a member of the PhD confirmation panel, but it is expected that the Supervisor (and Co-Supervisor) would be present at the interview. The supervisor’s attendance at the interview ensures that he or she is aware of the panel’s critique of the student’s work. Written feedback shall be provided to the student by the Departmental Graduate Director within one week following the interview. The recommendation of the panel shall be one of the following: (a) continuation on the PhD, (b) continuation on the PhD register after some minor changes have been made to the report, (c) continuation on the PhD not recommended at this time: a new report to be written and confirmation interview to be held again as soon as possible thereafter, (d) a recommendation to change to the general Masters register and submit a Masters (MLitt) thesis, or (e) not to continue as a postgraduate research student. A student may appeal the result of a PhD confirmation interview. This appeal will be brought in the first instance, to the appropriate sub-committee of the School Executive Committee. A further appeal may be directed to the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Students in their second or higher years will return a Progress Report Form to the Departmental Graduate Director twice a year. These reports summarise the progress and research-related activities in the last 6 or 12 months (whichever is relevant), evaluate the actual progress with the projected progress, outline the proposed programme for the next 6 to 12 months, and outline any difficulties experienced. Students should discuss the progress report with their supervisors. Reports need to be signed by both the supervisor and the student. At the end of each semester the department will conduct a twice-yearly general review of the progress of each research student. Any advice and recommendations of the supervisor, Departmental Graduate Director, and/or other staff will be communicated directly to each student concerned. The content of the progress reports will have a particular bearing upon the Department’s attitude to any request for an extension of the deadline for submission of the thesis and continuation beyond year 4.
Note that this Departmental Progress Review is different from and in addition to the Progress Review of Graduate Studies Office.
At the end of their second year, each student shall be invited to attend a PhD second-year review interview. The review panel for each student is appointed by the Departmental Graduate Director (as nominee of the School’s Director of Teaching and Learning (Postgraduate) and shall consist of Department members drawn only from staff eligible to supervise, as follows: the Departmental Graduate Director and a second and third member of the Department with acknowledged expertise in the subject area of the student’s research (or in a cognate field), and the student’s supervisor. One week before the interview, each student will submit a 1,000 word summary of their PhD research to date and pose questions they would like to discuss. There is no formal outcome to this review - its purpose is to provide the student an opportunity to discuss with, and get feedback on their project from, a panel of staff members.