School of Social, Historical and Political Studies

PhD Postgraduate research in Social Sciences

PhD Full-time 4 years, Part-time 8 years

Start date(s)
Variable start date
Course specifications
Course length
Full-time (4 years),Part-time (8 years)
Campus location
University: City Campus
UCAS points calculator

Why choose this course?

  • PhD students at the Department of Social Sciences, Inclusion and Public Protection (SSIPP) are supervised by academics who are leading experts across a range of areas in which they have researched, worked and published. At least one academic in each supervisory team will have a track record of successful supervisions and all supervisors will have taken part in the university’s PhD supervision training.
  • SSIPP prides itself on the levels of support provided to postgraduate research students in the course of their PhD journey. Our academics are committed to their subject areas and meet regularly with their supervisees to work closely with them at all stages of the project, from inception to completion.
  • The University of Wolverhampton provides a collegiate research environment and first-class facilities to its PhD students, including a dedicated postgraduate research room, use of the University’s Harrison Learning Centre and access to key Social Science databases and journals. Where necessary, staff will also support PhD students with gaining access to other sources of information necessary for their doctoral studies. 
  • Postgraduate research students are encouraged to present their research to University academics and fellow PhD students through hosting research seminars.  Again, this is an area where our supportive and knowledgeable PhD supervisors are happy to support and advise where needed.

Our postgraduate research students are afforded the opportunity to develop their research skills through participation in training events organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the University’s Doctoral College.

What happens on the course?

The PhD programme in the School has the following three milestones:

  • Registration
  • Progression
  • Examination


Applicants who satisfy the entry requirements are encouraged to complete the online 'Expression of Interest' form. If the initial application is satisfactory, a conditional offer will be issued and a potential supervisor will be allocated who will provide guidance on the research proposal development. 

An interview will take place when the final draft of the research proposal is submitted for approval. The granting of the interview does not imply that the applicant will necessarily be admitted to a research degree programme.

Subject to the satisfactory interview and that the Faculty Research Committee (FRC) is satisfied that: a) the research proposal is sound and has the potential to deliver a postgraduate research award; and b) the proposal is appropriately resourced, the applicant will be admitted to the research degree programme.


All students who wish to study for a PhD are required to complete a progression within 18 months (for full-time students) or 36 months (for part-time students).

The student at the progression needs to produce a paper which summarises his/her achievements on the research programme and outlines future research plans (including research methods), and conduct an oral presentation of the paper at a workshop set up for the progression purpose.  

An independent assessor, nominated by the FRC, reviews the paper produced, together with supervisors’ assessment, the student’s presentation and other evidence. On this basis, the assessor will provide evaluative comments and recommendations to the FRC. Upon considering all aspects, the FRC may recommend that the student a) proceed as proposed; b) proceed subject to changes or amendments being made, addressing the concerns raised; c) be placed 'at risk'; or d) change the research degree originally sought. 


Towards the end of the research programme, the student will be examined on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination (viva voce). Normally two qualified examiners are appointed, at least one of whom is external to the institution. If the student is a member of staff at the University, then a second external examiner will be appointed.

Following the oral examination, the examiners will make recommendations to the University’s Research Award Sub-Committee (RASC) whether the research degree sought can be awarded.

Potential Career Paths

Successful completion of your PhD opens up a range of career opportunities and demonstrates your proven skills as a researcher.  Within the social sciences, having a PhD is becoming an increasingly essential element for those looking to develop a career in lecturing or research within higher education.  As well as higher education, a PhD will assist in accessing research opportunities within government, commercial and voluntary sector organisations.  As well as demonstration of your research skills, a PhD shows your extensive knowledge of a particular field in an applied and rigorous manner that is attractive to employers. 

Additional Information

Everything you need to know about this course!

The University of Wolverhampton (UoW) is home to approximate 23,000 students. The UoW’s research and innovation activities have won the 2013 UK Knowledge Transfer Award, and the 2014 UK Collaborative IMPACT award. It is also the holder of the Athena Swan Bronze Award and the HR Excellence in Research Award.

We are very fortunate in SSIPP to have a wide range of staff members in a position to supervise your doctoral study.  Below are some examples:

Dr Pauline Anderson – Department Head for SSIPP and Principal Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Pauline Anderson has extensive knowledge and experience in fields including gender and social class inequalities in higher education and employment. In addition to being Head of the Department of Social Sciences, Inclusion and Public Protection, Dr Anderson has supervised PhDs as Director of Studies and welcomes applications from new students working in the broad area of educational inequalities and the lived experience of gender and social class within the academy. Additionally, Dr Anderson has been pivotal in studying the voluntary sector and establishing links between the university and the voluntary sector. 

Professor Graham Brooks – Professor of Criminology

Professor Brooks specialises in corruption in international sport and techniques of policing and preventing corruption in an international context. As well as publishing extensively in the UK and abroad, Prof Brooks has been Secretariat of the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board (CFPAB) and Assistant Director Centre for Counter Fraud, Portsmouth.  Professor Brooks has recently secured an Individual Marie Curie Fellowship worth €146,000 to research ‘Traditional Organised Crime and the Internet: The changing organization of illegal gambling networks'.  Prof Brooks was also part of the research team that developed Fraud Loss Measurement (FLM) exercise now used as guidance in EU/China project on measuring fraud and online fraud resilience tool with PKF used by National Fraud Authority and Charity Commission.

Dr David J. Cox – Reader in Criminal Justice History

Dr David J. Cox specialises in the dark side of human nature, with particular focus on criminal; behaviour of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century offenders, together with the attempts to police and administer justice to such malefactors.  Dr Cox is currently supervising several PhD students through the course of their studies, and is always happy to hear from potential post-graduate students who may be interested in pursuing their own research interests in all aspects of criminal justice history.  For potential PhD students that are bewitched by burglars, captivated by courtrooms, gripped by stories of gibbeting, hung up about hanging, or passionate about policing history, then Dr Cox is the man for you.

Dr Shirin Housee – Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Shirin Housee has over 25 years of experience and publications researching the field of education, with specific focus on access, progression and general equal opportunities.  Her current research activities are examining anti-racist education in Higher Education. Dr Shirin Housee also has extensive involvement in work on anti-racist pedagogy, much of her work focuses on classroom interaction, engagement, student group dialogue and staff to student discussions.  In this work she argues that the teaching and learning experience of students are related to issues of identity and diversity that informs their sense of being, of transformation and success.

Dr Steve Iafrati – Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Social Policy

Dr Steve Iafrati has a particular focus on poverty as well as the funding and delivery of welfare.  At a time of economic and social change within the UK, Dr Iafrati has published research in areas such as food banks, hate crime, substance abuse treatment and payday loans. Part of the university’s faculty research committee, Dr Iafrati is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Social Policy Association’s national executive.  Dr Iafrati has extensive experience of working voluntary sector organisations and local authorities in producing research and contributing to strategies. 

Dr Sam Pryke – Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Sam Pryke has a primary academic interest in the sociology of nations and nationalism.  His PhD work was on issues around national identity, gender and sexuality in national British youth movements.  Subsequently he has researched long distance nationalism and the relationship between nationalism and globalisation.  He is a member for many years of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism.  He has additional academic interest in the study of migration. 

Dr Michael Rees – Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Michael Rees has a particular focus on the sociology of the body, including tattooing and the construction of identity through appearance.  Bringing a strong cultural analysis to sociology within the department, Dr Rees has a background in studying the role of media and other cultural influences.  Additionally, Dr Rees has an interest in sociological research surrounding particular diseases. 

Dr Christopher Stone – Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Deaf Studies and BSL Interpreting

Dr Stone is an experienced academic within Interpreting and Deaf Studies having previously worked at Gallaudet University and also working as an interpreter.  Dr Stone’s research includes areas within Interpreting Studies such as ethnography, language and cognition, whilst recent work has included Deaf people working as translators and interpreters within the Deaf community.  With a range of academic publications to his name, Dr Stone also has interest in Deaf legal discourse, specialized vocabulary in ASL, the invisible work of interpreters, and ethnographic study of interpreting.  Recent work by Christopher at the European parliament further demonstrates his understanding of cross-national issues. 

Dr Clare Williams – Senior Lecturer in Social Policy

As Senior Lecturer in Social Policy Dr Williams’ research focuses on political science theory to evaluate the development of the service provision and developments in policy for children and families.  Recently, Dr Williams’ research has also examined the impact of welfare reform and government policy changes on vulnerable groups.  This has included evaluating domestic violence refuge provision for women with mental ill health and food bank use.  Dr Williams always welcomes expression of interests linked to children and family policies, domestic violence policy and services, impacts of austerity and welfare reform policy and policy development theory.

Dr Kate Williams – Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Criminology

Dr Kate Williams is an experienced criminologist with a specialist research area of sex work. Most recently, Dr Williams has been involved in an EU funded study into women rough sleepers who suffer violence, and has recently completed an ESRC project entitled ‘Evaluating police behaviour — using video–clips to examine variations in the public’s evaluation of police conduct’. Dr Williams is also currently the Executive Secretary of the British Society of Criminology and the Secretary of the BSC Midlands Branch. 

In addition to the regular supervision provided by supervisors, our PhD students will also be provided with training opportunities by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the University’s Doctoral College.

University Research Conference – The University Research Conference is held in June for research active staff and PhD students to showcase their areas of research and exchange research initiatives. Research students are welcome to make presentations during their period of study. Research students are also encouraged to disseminate final results of their research prior to submission.

University Research Training - Students are encouraged to participate in training provided by the Doctoral College not only because of its intrinsic value but also because these sessions may facilitate meetings with post-graduates outside the school.

Teaching Skills Development – Within SSIPP, we understand that postgraduate research students wish to develop their academic CVs while with us. For this reason, research students are provided the opportunity to undergo teaching skills development. The department seeks to ensure, wherever possible, that PhD students have the opportunity to teach on undergraduate modules.

Location Mode Fee Year
Home Full-time £4596 per year 2022-23
Home Full-time £4712 per year 2023-24
Home Full-time £4712 per year 2023-24
Home Full-time £ per year 2024-25
Home Part-time £2298 per year 2022-23
Home Part-time £2356 per year 2023-24
Home Part-time £2356 per year 2023-24
Home Part-time £ per year 2024-25
International Full-time £14450 per year 2022-23
International Full-time £15450 per year 2023-24
International Full-time £15450 per year 2023-24
International Full-time £ per year 2024-25

The University is committed to a transparent fee structure, with no hidden costs, to help you make an informed decision. This includes information on what is included in the fee and how fees are calculated and reviewed

 Applicants for a research degree shall normally hold either:

 • a first or upper second class honours degree, or

 • a master’s degree, or

 • evidence of prior practice or learning that is accepted by the Dean of Research.

Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score (or equivalent) of 7.0, with no individual element less than 6.0. The only exemption to this is for students who are not required to do so as per UKVI regulations: 


Financial support for research study:

Before applying, you should consider carefully how you will finance your studies for the duration of your programme, including tuition fees, research support fees and living costs.

Government loans (Home Fee Status):

Government loans are available for postgraduate research students of up to £28,673, to cover fees and living expenses. More information can be found at Doctoral-loans website.

Studying in the UK:Guidance for EU students

For 2021/22 new entrants, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status and financial support from Student Finance England.


We are able to take payments in instalments, to spread out the cost of your studies, and it is possible to switch between full-time and part-time modes of study. For more information go to How to pay.

Postgraduate Research Loyalty Discount:

To students progressing from an undergraduate programme and/or a taught postgraduate programme to a postgraduate research programme, where both courses are University of Wolverhampton Awards.

There is no time limit on how long ago you completed your degree and/or Masters level qualification, as long as the new award is at a higher level.

For full terms and conditions please see: Loyalty Discount for Postgraduate Research Students

Research councils:

The UK Research and Innovation funds postgraduate study in all subject areas on a discretionary basis.

University Research Studentships:

The University offers a very limited number of research stipends, formerly known as bursaries, to research students. Stipends are designed to support specific projects as determined by the Research Institute rather than individual student-led projects. Funds are accessible from the relevant Research Institute or Centre - please contact them directly.

Other sources:

Dennis Turner Opportunity Fund.

You can find more information on the University’s Funding, cost, fee and support pages.


01902 32 22 22



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