Social Policy, Sociology PhD/MPhil


Course facts

  • Name: Social Policy, Sociology
  • Qualification: PhD/MPhil
  • Duration: PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time; MPhil: 1 to 2 years full-time, 2 to 3 years part-time

The School of Social Sciences provides a stimulating and supportive environment for postgraduate training. The emphasis is on small groups, close working relationships between students and supervisors, and development towards full professional participation in the subject area. For research students we are able to provide both a full ESRC recognised research training programme and high quality expert supervision across a broad spectrum of subjects.

Research Areas

Social Policy and Sociology with specialisations in:

  • Comparative Social Policy
  • The historical sociology of health
  • Health Policies and devolution
  • Mental illness and learning disabilities
  • Ageing and social change
  • Housing Policy
  • Ethnographic and ethnomethodological studies of work
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Membership categorisation analysis
  • Schooling and social interaction
  • Culture and Media
  • Popular Culture
  • Language and social interaction
  • Identity and diversity
  • Childhood and family

Communities and Social Networks with specialisations in:

  • Community and locality
  • Activism and citizenship in rural areas
  • Lifestyles and environment
  • Civil society in Wales
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Food and farming cultures
  • Later life, generations and the lifecourse
  • The shaping of European identities

Minority Languages and Cultures with specialisations in:

  • Language
  • Migration
  • Identity and belonging

Current graduate students are conducting research on:

  • The social organisation of net-based learning
  • Migration, ideas of national belonging and policy responses in Wales and Ireland
  • The economic and social significance of the SARS outbreaks
  • Wales in a global neighbourhood
  • Categorisation and special educational needs: implementing the SEN code of practice
  • The social construction of Welsh identity
  • The use of the Welsh language in the voluntary sector in Wales
  • The role of programme evaluation in the public sector organisation

Course content is for guidance purposes only and may be subject to change.

Research project opportunities

Please note the research project opportunities detailed here are NOT funded by the University. Candidates must secure their own funding to meet the costs of PhD study.

If you are a European or International student this research programme is one of those which allows you to develop a research project proposal as an initial and integral part of a Combined English / Study Skills and Research Course at the University before starting the PhD/MPhil degree.

European and International candidates who have already reached the required level of English can apply for entry onto the project of their choice by presenting a relevant research proposal when applying for admission.

Alternatively you may also consider developing your own research proposal based on the research specialisms within the school.

The opportunities which are currently available are outlined below.

Ethnic majorities and the nation in comparative perspective

Supervisor: Dr Robin Mann

T: +44 (0) 1248 382232/ E:

There is an increasing call for sociological studies of national identities which can go beyond a 'single country' focus. The danger is of believing that what we observe about national identity, say in Britain, is universally or generally true as opposed to a product of place- and history-specific factors. At the same time there are identifiable similarities and differences in regimes of democracy, citizenship and state formation which make comparative analyses possible. The availability of cross-national and international data sets, both quantitative and qualitative, also provides new opportunities for comparative analysis. The aim of this project would be to develop comparative empirical approaches to the study of ethnic majorities and national identity within established liberal democracies, particular those which focus on the national attachments and sentiments of ordinary citizens. Why is it that, across a range of liberal democracies, the nation has come to be seen as in crisis? Can similarly global influences and local responses be identified? The project is open in terms of its empirical and methodological focus, but could involve comparisons of contemporary identity formations across parts of Europe; or parts of the English speaking world such as between Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The project is related to Dr Mann's ongoing research on national identity, ethnic majority and resentment.

Please note this research project opportunity is NOT funded by the University. Candidates must secure their own funding to meet the costs of PhD study.

Local forms of civil society in societies in transition

Supervisor: Prof. Howard Davis and Dr Robin Mann

T: +44 (0) 1248 382123/ E:

The concept of civil society has emerged in the early 21st century as a contested

term but one that broadly signifies a realm of dialogue and human relations that is connected to, but separate from, the state, markets and private life. An important gap in our knowledge is the impact of social change on local forms of civil society

and civil society organisations and what this means for social cohesion and well-being. It is of particular interest to know how civil society is developing in the context of rapid modernization, the aftermath of conflicts, or where individuals are confronted by economic crisis, institutional turbulence and growing inequality. The project will explore how individuals, communities, and civil society organisations respond to these forces. It is particularly well suited to empirical research on civic participation in society at local and regional levels in contexts of rapid development, nation-building, devolved government and new political regimes. The project is open to mixed, comparative and multi-method sociological research. The project is related to current research on civic participation in Wales in WISERD, the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods

Please note this research project opportunity is NOT funded by the University. Candidates must secure their own funding to meet the costs of PhD study.

New speakers' use of minority languages post education

Supervisor: Dr Rhian Sian Hodges

T: +44 (0) 1248 382758/ E:

Minority language education is a key language revitalisation strategy worldwide. Education drives the language policy and language planning agenda for governments on a global scale. However, a key concern and paradox emerges in the field of language planning worldwide which is the difference between language ability and language use. Not all minority language speakers choose to use their language as part of their daily lives. Education systems worldwide create 'new' minority languages speakers who possess a full spectrum of language competence skills but do not necessarily use their language daily for a number of complex reasons. The aim of this research project is to analyse and interpret the motivations and language use of 'new' minority speakers beyond the education system. How do minority language speakers define themselves in terms of language hierarchy, language ownership, language legitimacy and power relationships? This research aims to provide an in-depth analysis of 'new' minority speakers and assess the usefulness of minority language education as a key language revitalisation strategy.

Please note this research project opportunity is NOT funded by the University. Candidates must secure their own funding to meet the costs of PhD study.

Social Theory

Supervisor: Dr Marcel Stoetzler

T: +44 (0) 1248 382758/ E:

PhD projects in any area of social theory are welcome. I am particularly interested in comparative and historical studies of social and sociological theory, which would often involve examining how different theoretical traditions relate the concepts of society, individual, state, culture, economy to each other. Questions of identity and agency will often be central, as well as the role of social movements in the changing dynamics of modern history and society.

PhD projects in any area of race, gender, nation and ethnicity studies are also welcome. I am interested in theoretical projects as well as theoretically informed empirical studies especially of the interrelations of these categories (and others) as in 'intersectionality' theory or the various traditions of Marxist and Critical Theory.

Please note this research project opportunity is NOT funded by the University. Candidates must secure their own funding to meet the costs of PhD study.

Sociologies of Everyday Life/The Interaction Order

Supervisor: Dr Roger Slack

T: +44 (0) 1248 383888/ E:

PhD projects in the areas of social interaction are welcome. I am interested in ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, symbolic interactionism. Particular interests in advice giving in medical settings, the use of new technology in interaction analysis, computer supported co-operative work (CSCW), workplace studies, and reflexivity in ethnomethodology. I also have interests in the philosophy of social science (especially Wittgenstein, Ryle, and Austin) and visual sociology.

Please note this research project opportunity is NOT funded by the University. Candidates must secure their own funding to meet the costs of PhD study.

Entry Requirements

A good honours degree in a related discipline is required. Students without a Masters degree in a relevant discipline will be required to undertake a taught research training programme in their first year. Students should submit a research outline which must be approved by the Course Director.

For those whose first language is not English or Welsh, the minimum English language requirements is:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (with no individual score lower than 6.0)
  • Pearson PTE: 62 (with no individual score lower than 58)
  • Cambridge English Test – Advanced: 176 (with no individual score lower than 169)

International Students

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.

Ask the IEC for assistance...

If you want advice or a general chat about what’s available contact the International Education Centre on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email


Application advice

Applications for research degrees differ substantially from applications for taught courses such as Masters degrees. Although the application form is the same, the way in which you approach your application can make all the difference.

Applying for a self-funded or externally-funded Research Degree

As with all of our courses, you can apply to fund yourself through a PhD/Mphil at Bangor, or you may already have sourced external funding (e.g. from your employer or government), and we warmly welcome all expressions of interest in so doing. However, rather than simply filling in an application form, there are a few steps that you can take in order that your application stands a greater chance of being successful.

All PhD/Mphil students require supervision from at least one academic member of staff at the University, and if you are considering a PhD/Mphil, you will already have a good idea of the specific area or theme that you want to research. In order to ascertain that we hold sufficient expertise in your chosen topic to provide supervision, you should first look at our staff pages. This will provide you with a breakdown of each staff member’s area of academic focus.

Once you have found a member of staff whose research interests broadly accord with your own, you should contact them directly with a concise research ‘brief’ that outlines your proposal and ask whether s/he would consider supervising your project. If the academic expresses his/her interest, you may then further discuss your ideas and develop a full PhD/Mphil research proposal.

At this stage, you should formally apply online for the PhD/Mphil programme. You should fill the form out thoroughly, including academic references, your research proposal and the name of the academic member of staff under whose supervision you intend the research to be conducted.

Your research proposal

A good research proposal is essential if you are applying for a PhD or MPhil. The proposal should include:

  1. Overview – give a brief abstract of the subject area you wish to research and include information on the key theoretical, policy or empirical debates that will be addressed.
  2. Planning – you need to demonstrate that you are aware of the research timescales and have a plan in place to conduct your work. You need to demonstrate that the research is manageable in the given time period.
  3. Literature references – you need to show that your planned area of research has not been studied before. Provide references to key articles and texts relevant to your area of study.
  4. Methodology – you need to show that you are aware of the methodological tools available and have identified which ones would be suitable for your research.

More advice about preparing a research proposal

Applying for funded PhD studentships advertised by Bangor University

Funded PhD studentship opportunities arise frequently throughout the year, and are advertised as specific opportunities for which you must formally apply. The application process for funded PhD studentships may differ according to the academic School in which the studentship opportunity is held, so please check the relevant School’s homepage and follow the application advice therein. If you are unsure of any part of the application process, please contact the individual School for advice, or e-mail

Online applications can now be made by prospective applicants for all postgraduate taught programmes and postgraduate research programmes at the University (with the exception of the PGCE, Diploma in Occupational Therapy and DClinPsy).

Home/EU students

Apply Online here...

Apply online

  • Please read through the Guidance Notes before you begin the online application form
  • Apply online yourself through our online application system.

Home/EU students with admissions queries please contact...

Postgraduate Admissions:, telephone: +44 (0)1248 383717 or write to:

Postgraduate Admissions Office.
Academic Registry
Bangor University
Gwynedd UK
LL57 2DG

International students

  • Agents: if you are an agent applying on behalf of the student, then you can Apply here.  For further guidance click here

International students with admissions queries please contact...

International Education Office: or write to

International Education Centre
Bangor University
LL57 2DG

Telephone: +44 (0) 1248 382028

When do I Apply?

The University will accept applications throughout the year. We would generally advise that you submit your application in enough time for you to make any funding and/or accommodation arrangements, and for documents such as transcripts and references to be obtained if not submitted with the application.This will also give you more time to meet any conditions we may potentially attach to an offer (e.g. in the case of overseas students, taking an IELTS or TOEFL test to meet the English Language requirement).

Further information

Next steps