Research opportunities in the School of Social Sciences


The School specialises in the areas listed below. Visit the School research pages and School academic staff pages for further details.

Candidates seeking entry onto PhD and other research degrees are encouraged to present research proposals related to these areas of specialism.

Alternatively, candidates may undertake a research degree in a topic specified by the School. Visit the ‘Research Projects’ section for details of these topics.

Health, Social Care and Social Policy with specialisations in:

  • Ageing and later life
  • Mental health and psychiatry
  • Health inequalities
  • Housing and social exclusion
  • Health and the citizen consumer
  • Lifestyles in consumer society

Community, Identity and Language with specialisations in:

  • The shaping of European identities
  • Local food cultures
  • Civil society in Wales
  • The use of technological aids in coping with medical conditions and emergencies
  • Cultural changes in post-Soviet societies
  • The impact of migration on rural Wales
  • Welsh language socialization in the family
  • Use of national identity categories in television news
  • Comparative study of the university as an interactional accomplishment
  • The negotiation of ethnic identities

Social Control, Crime and Criminal Justice with specialisations in:

  • Support for the police
  • Political violence and terrorism
  • Media and public opinion
  • Begging in North Africa and South Asia
  • Popular legal culture
  • Pluralised policing
  • Violence in intimate relationships
  • Rural criminology
  • Postcolonial societies, crime and deviance
  • Theoretical criminology
  • Criminal justice systems
  • Lay participation in the administration of justice

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

Candidates wishing to research any of the projects listed in this section should apply as follows:

  • International candidates requiring a pre-sessional English course will be enrolled on a Combined English / Study Skills and Research Course at the University before starting the PhD degree. The research proposal will be developed and written when enrolled on this course.
  • UK nationals or European and International candidates who have already reached the level of English required for entry should present a relevant research proposal when applying for admission.

Alternatively candidates may present a research proposal related to the research expertise & specialisms within the School. Please refer to the 'Apply' section for further details.

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

Citizen experience with legal institutions

Supervisor: Professor Stefan Machura

T: +44 (0) 1248 382214/ E:

People may form their opinion on legal institutions, officials and policies based on a plethora of sources. Empirical research and social science theory help in understanding the complexities involved. It is known that personal experience, family and friends, education and media may form individual views. The support for a key policy, or for a very prominent leader, but also criticism based on negative outcomes received, can affect levels of trusts and legitimacy attributed to institutions. As an example, see: Dalton, Ian, Jones, Victoria M.L, Machura, Stefan, Ngaihte, Henry, Norton, Thomas P., and Pritchard, Maria (2009), Speeding, the Chief Constable and Trust in North Wales Police. Papers from the British Criminology Conference, 9, 92-110 [open access journal], or Machura, Stefan, Thomas Love and Adam Dwight (2014). Law Students’ Trust in the Courts and the Police. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 42, 287-305.

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

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

Lay participation in the administration of justice

Supervisor: Dr Stefan Machura

T: +44 (0) 1248 382214 / E:

Most legal systems employ citizens as judges, either in mixed courts with professional judges, in juries, as single lay decision-maker (or mediator), or in a group of lay judges. They deal with a variety of legal cases, administrative, criminal and civil cases. Occasionally, lay participation is considered a defining element of the legal and political culture. Only in some countries, there is a strong tradition of social science research whereas there is little literature for many countries and on many dimensions of the topic. Applications are welcome which combine empirical and theoretical work, taking into consideration the prevailing legal culture and local practice. As an example of the kind of research expected, see: Machura, Stefan (2007). Lay Assessors of German Administrative Courts: Fairness, Power Distance Orientation and Deliberation Activity. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 4, 331-362. Or: Machura, Stefan, and Litvinova, Olga (2007). Lay Judges in Rostov Province. In Feldbrugge, Ferdinand (ed.), Russia, Europe, and the Rule of Law, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, pp. 109-127.


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

Media representations of law, legal institutions and legal personnel

Supervisor: Professor Stefan Machura

T: +44 (0) 1248 382214/ E:

In our age, people tend to be informed by TV, film and other media which 'cultivate' their views (George Gerbner). But media theory also takes into account purposeful choices made by the audience and the mix which results from personal experience, media, education and other sources. What people think about the courts, lawyers, the police and other legal institutions makes no exception. Based on careful analysis of media content and awareness of applicable social science theory, empirical research may deepen our understanding of what goes on. Prospective students might want to see the following publications for examples of current research: Machura, Stefan, and Kammertöns, Annette (2010). Deterred From Going to Court? A Survey at German Schools on Media Influences. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 8(2) [open access journal]. Or, as a content analysis: Machura, Stefan, and Llewelyn Davies (2013). 'Law is an Odd Thing' – Liberalism and Law in the TV-series 'The Good Wife'. Kriminologisches Journal, 45:279-294.

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

Perceptions of crime and criminal justice; policing and penal policy

Supervisor: Dr Martina Feilzer

T: +44 (0) 1248 388171/ E:

PhD topics in any area of policing and penal policy are welcome but I would particularly invite proposals on specific aspects of perceptions of crime and criminal justice. I am particularly interested in the relationship between the public and criminal justice at local, national, and international level; the relationship between the media and public opinion of criminal justice, as well as human rights; developments in penal policy, in particular in the area of probation and prisons; and comparative and historical research in criminal justice. In terms of research methods, my focus is on the development of mixed methods research and the secondary analysis and visualisation of existing datasets.

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

Entry requirements

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

Fees & Scholarships

Please take a look at our Fees & Scholarships pages for details.

How to apply

Step 1 – Select your research topic

You have three options with regards the selection of your research topic;

Option 1

Prepare your Research Proposal, based on the research expertise at the School.

Option 2

Select a research project from the Directory for PhD opportunities (Also available as a PDF document). Enter the name of the project and the name of the supervisor on the application form. The ‘Research Project’ route is delivered in two parts:

  • Part 1: A Combined English / Study Skills and Research Proposal course. This is when you will write a research proposal based on the selected research project. Duration is up to 1 year, dependent on the English language level.
  • Part 2: The PhD programme.

Option 3

Occasionally, the University advertises PhD Studentships. Studentships are funded / sponsored PhD placements which cover tuition fees and sometimes living costs, usually for a period of 3 years. They are offered for specific research projects. Studentships are advertised on the University website and Academic Schools’ websites and there is normally a deadline for submitting applications. The terms and conditions of Studentships vary and may become available at different times of the year.

If you are applying for a Studentship, enter the name of the studentship on the application form

Step 2 – Prepare your documentation

You will need to gather the following documentation to present with your application:

  • Bachelor degree certificate and transcript
  • Masters degree certificate and transcript (if undertaken)
  • English language test certificate (if undertaken)
  • Academic reference / support letter
  • Confirmation of funding / sponsorship (if applicable)
  • Passport
  • Research Proposal (if you are NOT selecting a project from the Directory of PhD opportunities or applying for a Studentship). Click here for guidance about how to write a good research proposal.

Step 3 – Apply Online

International students have two options when applying;

Apply online

Option 1 – Apply online yourself

Option 2 – Apply online with the help of a recruitment agent

  • If you would like help in completing and managing your application you may seek help from one of our authorised representatives or agents. To see a list of our representatives for your country please visit the Country pages.

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.

When do I Apply?

You can apply at any time of the year.

It is possible to start a PhD degree at any point in the year at most academic Schools, subject to agreement with the supervisor.

We advise that you submit your application in enough time to:

  • organise funding
  • undertake an English course
  • obtain documents such as transcripts and references required for meeting the conditions of the offer
  • apply for a visa
  • make accommodation arrangements

Further information

Admission related queries

If you need any assitance in completing your application, contact the International Admissions Team on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email