Social Sciences - PhD
- Level: Postgraduate Research
- Starting: February 2022
- Study mode: Full Time, Part Time, Distance Learning
- Location: City Centre
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
The School of Social Sciences supports a growing and vibrant community of PhD students. The PhD is an advanced postgraduate qualification, involving three or more years in which you work through the issues associated with solving a particular problem. Each research student is supported by a team of supervisors appointed for the particular study.
The School welcomes enquiries relating to the fields of psychology, criminology and sociology.
What's covered in the course?
In the School of Social Sciences, staff have recognised standing, nationally and internationally, in the following broad areas:
- understanding crime and punishment;
- the study of all aspects of psychology;
- the exploration of social structures and change.
Our PhD students benefit from regular supervision meetings with academics who are experts in their field. They have the opportunity to become members of our proactive research community made up of academics, postgraduate researchers and external partners.
Why Choose Us?
- The School of Social Sciences has a developing, thriving and vibrant research community of which its PhD students are an essential part.
- Our PhD students benefit from regular supervision meetings with academics who are experts in their field
- Students can make use of library, ICT and social-learning space facilities at our new City Centre Campus;
- Students can, where available, undertake teaching opportunities, collaborate with academics, and contribute to research dissemination events taking place in the School.
- The Centre for Applied Criminology is led by one of the UK’s leading Criminologists, Professor David Wilson.
- You will be encouraged to publish in collaboration with your supervisors and to take part in research conferences.
Find out more
This course is open to International students
Discover the School of Social Sciences
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
Teaching Excellence Excellence Framework
Birmingham City University has been awarded silver status for its quality of teaching in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
What is a PhD?
PhD degrees are research programmes. They allow you to learn as you work through the issues associated with solving a particular problem. Each research degree student is supported by a team of supervisors appointed for the particular study. In all years of study, students will be required to present their work in meetings of fellow students and staff conducting parallel research.
Research in the School of Social Sciences has strong real world applications. Researchers within the School have close links with the local communities, NGOs and organisations such as the Police and Prison Service. They work in collaboration with such groups to inform and drive policy to change the society in which we live.
In Criminology, staff research includes subjects such as Crime Culture & Contemporary Media, Extremism Security Studies & Terrorism, Positive Criminology, Sports Criminology and Birmingham Urban Studies.
In Sociology, staff explore aspects of the African diasporic communities, popular culture, higher education and society and health, housing, domestic abuse and politics.
In Psychology, staff research explores three main areas: cognitive, developmental and disorders; forensic psychology; and individuals, society and health.
Criminology research clusters
- Crime, Culture and Contemporary Media
- Birmingham Urban Studies
- Extremism, Security Studies and Terrorism
- Positive Criminology
- Sports Criminology
Psychology research clusters
- Applied Cognition and Technology
- Applications and Interventions in Positive Psychology
- Health and Well-Being
- PRiDE: Psychological Research in Development and Education
- Applied Forensic Psychology
A full list of opportunities in Psychology research can be found here.
Sociology research clusters
Along with the rise of social media, there have been many cases where criminals have abused social networks to commit or show off their crimes. One example of this being the WDBJ7 live shooting which was broadcast on Facebook and Twitter.
Researchers from Birmingham City University investigated the criminology behind these acts and attempted to answer the question: Is Facebook murder different to normal murder?
More past projects can be found here.
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Feb 2022
- Full Time
- 3-4 Years
- £4,500 per year
- Part Time
- 4-7 Years
- £2,250 per year
- Distance Learning
- 4-7 Years
- £2,815 per year
Starting: Feb 2022
- Full Time
- 3-4 Years
- £13,200 per year
- Part Time
- 4-7 Years
- £6,600 per year
- Distance Learning
- 4-7 Years
- £8,250 per year
If you’re unable to use our online application form for any reason, please email Research.Admissions@bcu.ac.uk.
Access to computer equipment
You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.
You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.
Access to Microsoft Office 365
Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites and available through our library.
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
Applicants are required to hold a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree, in a discipline related to social sciences, to be considered for a PhD. Some PhD opportunities, such as those funded by a particular research council, may additionally require a Masters level degree.
|English language requirements 2020/21|
6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each category
If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.
|Other accepted qualifications||Visit our English language page|
Your research proposal should be no more than 1500 words excluding bibliography.
Research proposal guidance
Your research proposal should address the following areas:
The Working Title of Proposal
Justification for Study
Why do you consider this subject worthy of study at PhD level? This should be considered in some detail providing sufficient background for the non-specialist to be able to gain an idea of the background to the study, its general purpose and its importance.
Outcome of the Study
How will the completed PhD contribute to the body of knowledge associated with this subject? Remember that we will expect a PhD to generate novel data and/or novel interpretations or ideas within a subject area and it must be made clear in your proposal how this will be attempted
This should include an assessment of the physical, technological, human and literary resources required to undertake quantitative or qualitative research. The research committee is unlikely to look favourably on a proposal that fails clearly to demonstrate what the necessary resources are and that they are readily available (or will be).
This should include a summary of the current debates, areas of contention or controversy, the principal commentators and the seminal works within the subject area.
A day in the life of a PhD student
If you're considering doing a PhD there's probably a lot of questions going through your mind: how am I going to pay for it? Should I quit my job? Will I cope with the workload? But most importantly, what is it really like? Karen Patel, a full time PhD student, shares her experiences of juggling life, a part time job and her studies.
The PhD Journey
A PhD can take three to four years full-time. Each PhD journey is unique and depends on circumstances and the nature of the research. Broadly, however, most journeys fall into a three stage pattern before completion and examination. Usually, the first stage of the journey involves engaging with what has already been written in the field: identifying the gap in current knowledge. The second stage usually involves doing the research. The final stage in the journey involves collating the data and writing up the findings. In reality, of course, these stages overlap and inform each other.
Modes of study
Our PhD programmes are offered full-time or part-time. These modes of study ensure that we can create a PhD research plan around your lifestyle needs, even if you are in full-time employment or overseas.
Full-time PhD Research: three to four years
As a full-time PhD research student you will undertake much of your research on campus using the facilities available.
You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-43 months.
Part-time PhD Research: four to seven years
You would chose part-time PhD research if you opt to study whilst in employment or if full-time study is impractical.
You will be encouraged to use the campus facilities when you can and may often work from home.
You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.
How the PhD is assessed
The criteria to be awarded a PhD is to make a ‘unique contribution to knowledge.’ Whether a student has achieved this is determined by a panel of experts, including internal and external academics. The panel will assess the student’s written thesis, and the student’s oral defence of that thesis in a viva voce.
PGCert in Research Practice
For the first six months of your PhD you will undertake the PGCert in Research Practice, which is a taught and compulsory part of the PhD programme. You will meet with your supervisors and attend classes every week. This is an essential part of the PhD which will help you to get your research started and set you up for the rest of your PhD journey. The PGCert programme covers literature review and research methods which are specific to your faculty.
The PhD award is a well established and valued professional qualification within the sector and will enhance career prospects. For those wanting to follow a career in teaching and researching in higher Education, a PhD is highly desirable.
The value of a PhD to employability
The PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic research career. However, it is increasingly recognised as useful in industry, commerce and the Third Sector.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
The departments also work in an interdisciplinary way, so there is a great deal of collaborative working within Social Sciences. See more information about Social Sciences staff and their specific interests here.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 million on new learning facilities.
The Curzon Building
This course is based at our City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building, alongside other social sciences, law, business and English students.
The £63m building offers students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.
Realistic, simulated environments include two mock court rooms, a Magistrates' and Crown Court, and an interviewing suite. We’re also exploring the use of virtual environments as a way to develop case study analysis.
For those studying on the BA (Hons) Policing or BA (Hons) Criminology, Policing and Investigation degrees, you’ll experience simulations of police interviewing environments for both suspects and witnesses, with access to tape recording and video playback analysis.
Crime investigation files are prepared using computer-based technology, and the crime data analysis requirements of the degree are supported by appropriate statistical and analytical software.
Psychology students can look forward to using state-of-the-art equipment as well, including the latest in eye-tracking software, and our new EEG machine, all geared towards giving you true hands-on experience with tools you’ll be using in your later career. You will also benefit from facilities across the wider campus including the Parkside and Millennium Point buildings.
The Curzon Building also features:
- An impressive new library with access to over 65 million full text items and stunning views of Eastside City Park
- Your Students’ Union which is located in a beautifully restored 19th century pub, The Eagle and Ball
- A modern 300-seat food court with space to study and socialise
- Brand new, accessible IT facilities with full Office365 for all students for free
Of course, the most important facility is our staff. Your relationship with your supervisor is a unique and vial to the success of your PhD. It is vital that you choose the right supervisory team. Academics in Social Sciences have a wide range of research expertise relating to aspects of Sociology, Criminology and Psychology.