Sociology - Research

Ulster University - Belfast

Sociology - Research

The School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences has a vibrant and multi-disciplinary research environment, which is home to a wide range of research projects that tackle important questions in the social sciences. We have an excellent international reputation for producing high quality research which has global impact. Our work is centred around three key themes: persistent and emerging socio-economic challenges, policy and practice in divided societies, and national global social justice.

If you are interested in joining our School as a PhD candidate, you can be confident that you'll be joining a community of committed researchers, who offer dedicated and tailored supervision. You will be fully integrated into the research environment within the school and join a lively research student community.

The School has three pathways for applicants: we assess applications for self-funded study all year round; we invite applicants to apply to the University's annual competition for doctoral scholarships; and we participate in the Northern Ireland and North-East Doctoral Training Partnership of the Economic and Social Research Council.

For more information on each of these pathways, and how to prepare an application, including how to draft a research proposal, please visit our School's webpage that describes the variety of PhD Opportunities.

Sociology at Ulster University
We are a vibrant and active team of researchers undertaking high-impact and policy-relevant research across a diverse range of issues including Victims, Truth and Justice; Institutional Child Abuse; Identities and Representation; Legacies of Armed Conflict and the Politics of Memory. As well as disseminating research through international academic peer-reviewed publications and conferences, we have a strong track record of producing knowledge that reaches beyond the academic boundaries. We have built close working relationships with civil society, a range of international NGOS and human rights organisations, government, national and international oversight bodies and communities directly impacted by our research. Our research is driven by a desire to generate social change and ensure that sociology has social value. Some of our work is rooted in activist scholarship. We seek to produce research that has meaningful relevance and impact for real word issues in areas such as human rights, access to justice, politics, commerce, industry, civil society and the public sector. Our research and the way we conduct it is cutting edge. The team's outputs are recognised nationally and internationally, and we have a track record of achieving REF 4* impact rating, as well as securing highly competitive funding from prestigious bodies such as the British Academy, Leverhulme, AHRC, Irish Research Council and Royal Irish Academy.

Successful PhD candidates will join a dynamic and vibrant research community and culture. Over the course of the programme, candidates will benefit from expert supervision, conduct high-quality research that makes a unique contribution to knowledge, as well as developing professionally in areas such as presentations, seminars and conferences within the School's dynamic research environment. PhD candidates will also significantly benefit from our close collaborative links with a range of institutions and bodies including the NI Executive; Living Legacies Engagement Centre; North West Migrants Forum; Amnesty International; IFA; Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation; North West Cultural Partnership and The Inquiry Network.

Our expertise falls into the following main themes:
- Inequalities and Injustices, Past and Present (Potential Supervisors: Prof Patricia Lundy; Dr Philip McDermott; Dr Niall Gilmartin)

- Identity and Representation (Potential Supervisors: Dr Philip McDermott, Dr Ciaran Acton)

- Conflict, Peace and Security (Potential Supervisors: Prof Patricia Lundy; Dr Niall Gilmartin)

We particularly welcome applicants interested in pursuing doctoral research in areas such as: justice and truth recovery; institutional abuse, gender, conflict and peace; social justice and human rights; politics of memory; language rights; legacies of conflict; heritage, museums and minorities; sporting identities; refugees and forced displacement. We invite interested applicants to initially contact a potential supervisor to discuss their proposal.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master's Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

Get additional information for International applicants at

English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Application dates

We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application (see "Application Weblink" below.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system (see "Application Weblink" below.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.

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Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral at UK Level 8

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider