Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Socio-cultural Studies PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Socio-cultural Studies

Socio-cultural studies attracts people with social science backgrounds who wish to work on interdisciplinary topics, and also those from an arts or humanities background who want to gain skills and experience in social research.

Our PhD students can apply to the Arts & Humanities Research Council, and some have already been successful in applications for doctoral research funding to the AHRC.

The MSc by Research in Socio-Cultural Studies may be taken as a stand-alone, one-year course or as a stepping stone to the PhD. It offers training in a range of qualitative methods.

Courses

Indicative courses include:

  • Documents of Life
  • Research Design
  • Data Analysis
  • Sources & Approaches for Historical Research
  • Research Methods in Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Research Design in Geography
  • Explanation & Understanding in Social & Political Research
  • Contemporary Social Theory
  • Ethical & Political Issues in Social & Political Research

Dissertation

The dissertation element of the degree can take the form of either a small piece of independent research or a detailed proposal for a PhD.

All first year PhD students in Sociology participate in the Sociology Postgraduate Research Seminar, which runs throughout the academic year. As well as having a cohort- and community-building purpose, this equips students with the scholarly skills necessary to succeed in their studies and research. It concludes with a research conference in which first year PhD students play a leading role.

First year PhD students are also expected to follow the research training courses most appropriate for their proposed methods, and to develop their knowledge of relevant literature and their research design, culminating in submission of a full research proposal 9-12 months after commencement of studies.

Subsequent years of the PhD are devoted to research, data analysis and writing of the thesis, alongside any further specific or general training students require or choose to follow. Typically, there are also opportunities for paid teaching employment throughout.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDSocio-Cultural Studies3 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
PhDSocio-Cultural Studies6 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

You will work with a supervisor on an original research dissertation and participate in advanced sociology research-training workshops, work-in-progress seminars and a writing workshop.

Research library and archive facilities in Edinburgh are outstanding.

All research students are members of the Graduate School of Social & Political Science, with full access to the Graduate School’s facilities in the Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Other library and archive facilities include the University’s Main Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Records Office. Proximity to the Scottish Parliament and other institutions of national government provides further research opportunities.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDSocio-Cultural Studies3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDSocio-Cultural Studies6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

For specialised guidance on submitting a competitive scholarship application, please follow the requirements and recommendations and how to contact relevant academic staff as advised here:

(Revised 10 November 2023 to update featured funding opportunities.)

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 1 July 2024

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

You must submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research, which will be closely scrutinised as part of the decision-making process. We request that PhD research proposals are no more than four A4 typed pages in Times New Roman, 12pt font. This includes charts and figures but does not include references or a bibliography.

We require PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD