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MPhil/PhD Social Sciences

Embark on an intensive, supervised piece of investigative work and build your own original area of expertise. You choose from a wide range of research topics supported by a supervisory team and write an extended 80,000 word thesis. Your studies are supported by supervisors who are active in their own specialist research.

Course length 3-7 Year(s)
Location City and Collegiate

Course description

A research degree is a period of intensive, supervised, research work in your chosen area. It builds on your previous academic or professional experience and allows you to develop an original area of expertise.

You work closely with a director of studies and a supervisor who are specialists in your chosen field or methodological approach to produce an extended thesis of up to 80,000 words in the case of doctoral research.

Whilst completing your thesis you can take advantage of a range of training opportunities to improve your employability and personal skills. This includes developing your knowledge and understanding of research methods and methodology.

You can take modules from the MRes Social Sciences Programme and supplementary on-line courses to develop your research skills. The work you complete on these courses can be included as part of a PHD.

Our staff members take part in a range of research-related activities, including

• writing books and articles for journals.

• delivering papers at national and international conferences.

• involvement in practical research projects, collaborative research and consultancy.

Reviewing journal papers, book proposals and research applications.

We conduct research projects in areas such as • law • social policy • sociology • politics • public health • education psychology. Our teaching and research is supported by leading facilities such as the Law Clinic and Community Justice Portal.

We also have the following research centres

• Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.

• Centre for Education and Inclusion Research.

We support and value our PhD students, who make a vital contribution to the intellectual life of the University.

Faculty of Development and Society Graduate School

This course is hosted by the Faculty of Development and Society Graduate School. The Graduate School website provides a communication hub for students and staff engaged in research, information about our research work, and useful contact information.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

To apply for a MPhil or PhD subject to confirmation we normally expect you to have one of the following

• a relevant masters degree

• a first or upper second class honours degree or equivalent

Direct PhD registration may be permitted if you hold a masters degree, or an overseas masters degree of equivalent standard, which

• is postgraduate according to the UK Quality Assurance Agency’s National Qualifications Framework

• included training in research and a research-based project report/dissertation or equivalent

If English is not your first language you typically need an IELTS 7.0 score with a minimum of 7.0 in all skills or equivalent. If your English language skill is currently below IELTS 7.0 we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English score.

If you do not have such academic qualifications we may consider your application individually, based on your personal, professional and work experience, and other formal qualifications. You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Full-time – at least 35 hours a week on average over three years
Part-time – at least 12 hours a week on average for up to seven years

EU and international students wishing to study in their own country can choose the split mode. You register with us and spend some time studying in Sheffield but are mainly based at home.

Various start dates

Typical modules may include

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

You critically investigate and evaluate an approved topic, to demonstrate an understanding of research methods appropriate to your chosen field. You must then present and defend your thesis by oral examination.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

To gain a PhD we expect you to make an independent and original contribution to knowledge.


We allocate you a supervisory team of two or three research specialists.

You have regular scheduled meetings with your supervisors when you agree targets for written and oral presentation of your research progress. We expect you to present seminar papers on your work and to submit written papers for comment. We also expect you to attend relevant seminars from the appropriate research seminar series.

Research training

In addition to your subject-focused research activity, you must complete research training modules, unless you have previously studied these on an appropriate masters degree. Fees for these modules are covered in the full-time fee. Part-time students must pay for these additional modules. Please contact us for further details. During your research leading to your thesis, you work under the guidance of your supervising team.

Assessment You submit your research programme for approval by the University’s Research Degrees Committee. To confirm the PhD stage, you complete a report and oral presentation. Your final assessment is via thesis and viva.


Our research is often applied, which prepares you to tackle issues of immediate relevance to voluntary or statutory agencies. You can go on to find an academic or other research career.

Many people take part-time degrees in collaboration with their current employer.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

Full-time – typically £4,121 a year
Part-time – typically £2,065 a year

Fees are aligned to Research Councils UK (RCUK) fees.

International student

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,100 a year

2017/18 academic year

Typically £12,400 a year

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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