UCL Graduate degrees


Social Science MPhil/PhD

The MPhil/PhD at the Social Research Institute 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 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£7,370 (FT)
£3,685 (PT)
£18,120 (FT)
£9,100 (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: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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 Social Research Institute 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 Social Research Institute 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 a halfday 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 towards 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.

Additional costs

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. 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 DTP (DSS leads on Social Policy, Quantitative  Social Science, IOE leads on Education) https://ubel-dtp.ac.uk/

Please note, calls for the above scholarship applications are generally advertised once a year during the Autumn term with deadlines often coming in January. We recommend getting in touch with potential supervisors well ahead of the deadlines.  

For a more comprehensive list of funding opportunities check here https://www.ucl.ac.uk/scholarships/


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 Social Research Institute 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?

The IOE is a world-leading centre for research in education and related social science. We host the UK's largest doctoral cohort in these areas. In the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021), the institute was ranked first for education for the eighth year running, ahead of Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge. In the UK's most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), we were number one for education research strength, with more world-leading researchers in education than any other UK University.  A quarter of UK education research is carried out at the IOE and we are home to many prestigious research centres and projects.

Doctoral students at the IOE have access to the wider UCL community as well as the education cluster constituting the ESRC UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership. The Institute’s programme has been designed to provide comprehensive and broadly based research training and to meet the requirements of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the UK Researcher Development Framework.

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: UCL Social Research Institute

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.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

Application deadlines

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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-research-institute

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 August 2021