MPhil in Sociology and Demography | University of Oxford
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MPhil in Sociology and Demography

About the course

The MPhil introduces students to contemporary theories and research methods on the intersection of sociology and demography. This 21-month programme takes a life-course and multilevel approach, aiming to integrate micro and macro issues in analysing social problems and the causes and consequences of population change.

The course will prepare you for doctoral work in sociology and demography and research-intense jobs.

The curriculum emphasises:

  • population-level analysis and demographic measures
  • a life course approach
  • sociological analysis as the key approach to explanation
  • advanced quantitative methods. 

This emphasis is reflected in the compulsory papers. Optional papers and the thesis will reflect either a more specialised topic (eg gender, family and fertility, migration and integration of migrants, health and mortality, intergenerational relationships) or methodological work.

The MPhil programme has the following components:

  • Sociological Analysis paper taught in the first year through lectures and seminars, assessed by an unseen examination
  • Demographic Analysis paper taught in the first year through lectures, seminars and computer labs, assessed through a combination of examination and assignments
  • Life Course Research paper taught in the first year through lectures, seminars and computer labs, assessed through a combination of methods
  • Statistical Methods paper taught in the first year through lectures and computer labs, assessed through a combination of a test and assignments
  • Research Design paper taught in the first year through lectures, assessed via a combination of methods
  • two optional papers over both years of the MPhil, normally taught through eight weekly classes/seminars for each paper and assessed by unseen examination or appropriate coursework
  • Replication project in the second year, comprising a combination of individual and group work and assessed via assignments
  • MPhil thesis, a new and substantial analysis of up to 30,000 words on a sociological and/or demographic topic, to be submitted by the end of the second year

Please note that the optional papers available may vary from year to year. 

Graduate destinations

Graduates often continue with a DPhil at Oxford or doctoral studies at highly-ranked US and continental programmes. Others find placement in research-intensive occupations in the public sector (eg national statistical offices, government departments and regional/local authorities), in international organisations, think tanks, and in private sector occupations in which quantitative skills are highly valued (consulting, market research, health research, social research, and insurance companies).

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a social science subject.

The department will only consider applicants who have an undergraduate degree in arts, humanities or science subjects if they can demonstrate a strong interest in sociology and demography, as taught at Oxford.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought, though you may include these scores as part of your application.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Publications

Publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Sociology to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Sociology and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Sociology.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Progression to the DPhil Sociology is dependent upon performance on the MPhil, the strength of the research proposal and whether appropriate supervision is available in the department.

Resources

The Department of Sociology has a vibrant graduate programme. Many of our students come from the United Kingdom and other European countries; we also attract students from all over the world, from Bangladesh to Zimbabwe.

The Department of Sociology is based in the Manor Road Building which is a bright, modern and airy building which also has a cafeteria and common room. Most of the lectures and classes take place at Manor Road. Students can apply for 24 hour access to the building. The building is also home to the Department of Politics and International Relations, Department of Economics, Centre for Criminology and Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

The Social Sciences Library is located just a few floors below the department and you will of course also have access to the world renowned Bodleian Library and the many other libraries around Oxford. The Manor Road Building also has its own IT Lab and IT Support Team. The  department has a number of hot desks for MPhil students to use; the library also has study spaces and many colleges offer computer facilities.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (further details will be announced in October 2016), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£8,715£3,021£11,736
Overseas£16,770£3,021£19,791

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

You are not formally required to undertake field research for your dissertation. However, if you decide to undertake fieldwork as part of your studies, you should note that you will ordinarily have to meet all the costs yourself. These costs are likely to include, but may not be limited to, travel, accommodation and living expenses, insurance and, where appropriate, visa and medical fees (e.g. for vaccinations). Costs can vary considerably according to the duration and location of the fieldwork, but the department would generally expect the cost of such field research to range from £200 to £1,000. If you choose to collect your own data, you may also incur transcription costs. There may also be costs if you choose to acquire quantitative data from non-ESRC sources.

The department has no funds available to help with these costs.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are encouraged to contact the department in order to refine your application before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement:
Up to 750 words

In your statement you should explain why you have chosen this particular course, what topic you propose to investigate in your MPhil thesis, why this topic fits with the course, and how you would carry out the research. The personal statement should be in English.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying to this particular programme
  • evidence of motivation
  • ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • the coherence of the thesis proposal
  • understanding of the proposed area of study.

Your statement should focus on the proposed research project rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible and should be prefaced by a short note which puts them in context.

The written work should preferably be on a sociological or demographic topic. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic preferred

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Academic references are preferred, though professional references are acceptable if you have spent a significant amount of time in work.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, a demonstrable interest in sociology and demography as it is taught at Oxford.