Institute of Education


Social Science MPhil/PhD

The MPhil/PhD at the Department of Social Science (DSS) provides a route for students to carry out their own research project within a multidisciplinary and multi-method environment. Our research students engage with the academic community within UCL and benefit from a comprehensive research training programme. This programme is available to study both face-to-face and online.


Key information

Programme starts

September 2020

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 1 November 2019

Tuition fees (2020/21)

£7,160 (FT)
£3,580 (PT)
£17,590 (FT)
£8,840 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

The normal minimum requirement is a Master’s degree from a UK university in a subject appropriate to the programme to be followed, or a qualification of equivalent standard appropriate to the programme to be followed awarded by a university (or educational institution of university rank) outside the UK. The majority of our successful applicants hold a Merit at Master’s level, and may have additional relevant experience. Students without a Master’s degree who have completed the UCL PGDip in Social Science Research Methods, obtaining a grade B or above in any two or more modules, may also be considered for admission to this programme.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:


The Department of Social Science is one of the largest multidisciplinary social science research and teaching centres in London. Our staff include sociologists, psychologists and economists. We have research-active staff able to supervise research in our key areas of expertise.

Research areas

Our expertise at the Department of Social Science covers the following specialising fields:

  • Children’s rights and advocacy; childhood studies; child development; children in care; maternal and child health; reproductive health; health behaviours; health promotion
  • Families; family formation; parenting; work and family life; fatherhood; motherhood; food practices
  • Gender; sexualities and intimate lives
  • Longitudinal analysis; cohort studies cross-cohort and international comparisons
  • Lifecourse transitions; intergenerational studies; demography; youth and young adulthood
  • Social inequalities; intergenerational and intragenerational social mobility 
  • Education; skills and employment; labour market behaviour
  • Migration; transnational families; sociology of religion; culture and ethnicity
  • Cultural and social psychology
  • Political sociology and the study of social movements
  • Advanced qualitative and quantitative methods; mixed methods and visual methods
  • Systematic reviews of research evidence; study of how research evidence is used in policy, practice and decision making 
  • Time use research; time use data to study social life, gender, work/family balance, family and economics

More information can be found on the department website: Social Science MPhil/PhD

About this degree

In addition to UCL's Doctoral Skills Development Programme, the IOE's Centre for Doctoral Education provides a comprehensive Research Training Programme.

Full-time MPhil/PhD students are required to fulfil 20 ‘points’ of training activity in their first year, and are encouraged to fulfil the same in their subsequent years of study. This training can be selected from the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme, the IOE faculty’s Research Training Programme, the multi-institutional Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, and from other sources. Each point is worth approximately one hour of face-to-face training, or an online equivalent. Part-time students fulfil 12 units of training activity a year. Other activities such as attending and presenting at conferences also count as research training. Students may undertake additional training beyond these minima, as relevant to their research and/or as agreed with their supervisors.

The Core Course aims to meets the needs of early stage doctoral students. 
There is also a wide range of introductory, advanced methods, advanced theoretical, and generic academic skills courses, as well as student led workshops and reading groups.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


UCL Graduate Research Scholarships & UCL Overseas Research Scholarships https://www.ucl.ac.uk/economics/study/postgraduate/funding/funding/ucl-research-scholarships-grs-and-ors

ESRC UBEL (DSS leads on Social Policy, Quantitative  Social Science, IOE leads on Education) https://www.ucl.ac.uk/scholarships/


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE-ISH Centenary Doctoral Scholarships

Deadline: Monday 25 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Full tuition fees and accommodation (3 years)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Social Science doctoral graduates are found in a variety of occupational fields and a wide range of career paths including social research, media research, marketing research, human resources, government, health, policy development, charities, education, NGOs, youth work and managerial posts in business and retail.


Students develop general and specialist skills in research methodology, academic writing and presentation, as well as experience of engaging with a wide range of practitioners across different social science sectors.


The Department of Social Science has a wide range of research seminars where students can join discussion of our ongoing projects, and the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is the base for national and international conferences. The Centre for Doctoral Education holds two annual conferences for doctoral students. There are also opportunities for students to offer specialist reading groups and workshops and to act as facilitators on courses within the research training programme.

Why study this degree at UCL?

This MPhil/PhD programme sits within the UCL Institute of Education's ESRC-recognised Centre for Doctoral Education. Students have access to the wider UCL community as well as the consortium of schools and colleges constituting the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) which is led by the UCL Institute of Education and includes SOAS, University of London; Birkbeck, University of London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of East London.

Students work closely with their supervisor(s) to develop each stage of research; supervisors also help put together a programme of additional courses and activities to support progress towards completion of the final thesis.

Department: Social Science

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Application deadlines

Applications for this programme are accepted throughout the year. It is highly recommended that students start their programme at the beginning of the academic year (usually end of September-beginning of October)

Two supervisors must be identified and agreed prior to submitting a formal application. To identify potential supervisors check the areas of research interest of staff from the departmental staff lists https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/departments/social-science

For further guidance check here  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/sites/prospective-students_graduate/files/potential-supervisor.pdf

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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Page last modified on 28 May 2020