Sociology and Communication PhD
MPhil option available
This course has an MPhil option
PhD student loans
The UK Government has recently introduced PhD loans of up to £25000 to UK and EU nationals, residing in England, for postgraduate research programmes starting in the academic year 2018-19. Read more here.
About the course
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline.
A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.
MPhil degree option
An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.
The Sociology & Communications group is a dynamic, international and globally respected community of researchers. Members are at the forefront of study into subjects as diverse as: globalisation and social transformation, political communication, communication and social change; gender and sexuality, the body, human-animal studies, the senses and embodiment, race and ethnicity, the environment, urban space and cities, digital cultures, public communication, young people, rights and the global south; popular culture, comedy/humour studies, experimental multi-media, and sports studies.
- Join an expert interdisciplinary community that publishes innovative and world-leading research addressing contemporary concerns and emerging social and cultural challenges.
- Be part of a thriving research culture where researchers have received regularly grants from the AHRC, ESRC and British Academy.
- Benefit from our excellent multi-Supervisory teams to support your postgraduate study.
- Enjoy being part of a collegial and active research environment.
While we welcome a wide range of topics in the areas of Sociology & Communications, here is an example list of potential research topics that we would like to supervise:
- Digital antagonism, exclusions and discrimination
- Environmental Communication
- Popular communications and Social change
- Public sphere, deliberative democracy and free speech
- Public space and protest movements
- Surveillance and algorithmic profiling
- Creative industries, inequality and diversity
- Comedy, Identity and Society
- Intersectional Veganisms
- Transgenderism and ‘Transracialism’
- Reality Television and Ethnic Minority Girls
- Cities, urban change and place
- Sensory Sociology
- Culture, Space, Time and Cities
- Political economy of communication/media
- The digital revolution and social change
- The rise of the far-right and neo-fascism
- Radical social movements, the precariat and digital labour
- Democratisation and the clash of civilisations
- World-systems analysis
- Anarchist social thought
- Emergent Digital Media Technologies
- Film & Media History
- Globalisation and youth activism
- Children and international development
- Globalisation of education
- Science and society
- Urban Space and Experience
Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)
Research degrees evolve in different ways according to discipline. Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure
PhD+ Award – An internship to work in the industry or perform a research outreach or enterprise activity.
PhD Plus is a career development scheme designed to provide an opportunity for excellent PhD students to undertake work experience and mentoring, and to facilitate their transfer into a career area of their choice. The awards are targeted at exceptional PhD students who have submitted their thesis within the expected submission date and will provide up to three months’ funded support for the period after submissions of their thesis and before the confirmation of the award. The precise number awards each year will depend on the quality of the applicants, up to a maximum 8 awards. The maximum amount to be awarded will be in line with RCUK rates for research training support grants: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/skills/training/
Successful PhD students have gone on to work in the following types of sectors: Public Relations; Cultural Industries; Think Tanks; Research Centres; Teaching; Data Science; Charities/NGOs; Media production; Academia; Activism.
At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.
» More about Employability
Entry criteria 2018/19
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.
As part of our application process for entry on our research degree (MPhil and PhD) programmes, we ask you to provide a 500-1,000 word research statement, excluding any references/bibliography you may include, setting out your research motivation, ideas and aspirations. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU entry requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)
You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.
If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.
Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.
We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.
Teaching and learning
List of potential supervisors by theme
- Bodies, Space & Culture - Dr Monica Degen; Dr Sara De Benedictus; Dr Meredith Jones; Dr Sharon Lockyer
- Comedy Cultures - Dr Sharon Lockyer; Dr Simon Weaver, hauke Riesch
- Environmental Communication - Dr Lesley Henderson; Dr Hauke Riesch; Dr Peter Wilkin; Dr Jingrong Tong
- Communications and Social change - Dr Lesley Henderson; Dr Sanjay Sharma; Dr Jingrong Tong
- Digital Cultures, Networks and Social Media - Dr John Roberts; Dr Sanjay Sharma; Dr Peter Wilkin; Dr Meredith Jones; Dr Monica Degen; Dr Jingrong Tong
- Race, Racism and Representation - Professor Sarita Malik, Dr Sanjay Sharma; Dr Simon Weaver; Dr Meredith Jones; Dr Paul Moody
- Approaches to political economy - Dr Peter Wilkin, Dr John Roberts, Dr Paul Moody
- The far-right, neo-fascism and the clash of civilizations - Dr Peter Wilkin, Dr Thomas Linehan (Politics)
- Radical social movements and the precariat - Dr Peter wilkin, Dr Sara de Benedictis, Dr John Roberts, Prof Nicola Ansell
- The City, Public Sphere and Public Space - Dr John Roberts; Dr Monica Degen; Dr Peter Wilkin; Prof Nicola Ansell; Dr Gary Armstrong
- World-systems analysis - Dr. Peter wilkin, Dr John Roberts
- Anarchist social thought - Dr. Peter wilkin, Dr Rohn Roberts
- Emergent Digital Media Technologies - Dr Paul Moody; Dr Christian Stiegler (Journalism)
- Film & Media History - Dr Paul Moody; Dr Leon Hunt (Film & TV)
Find out about working with the Supervisory Team here.
Facts and figures
Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Sociology. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008. The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
Study environment for research students
Find out more: Study environment for research students
Excellent research support and training
Extensive training and support is offered to all research students by the Graduate School, with regular Masterclasses and individual advice on academic issues as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Read more about the available Research Support and Training.
Brunel's library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 e-books, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject Information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.
- state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research publication and grant database
- one of the largest UK’s full text repository
- an integrated data management system
- analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
- Open Access centrally managed fund
Fees and funding
Fees for 2018/19 entry
Full time: £4,260 / Part time: £2,130
Full time: £14,800 Part time: £7,400
Full time: £4,195 Part time: £2,097
Full time: £14,400 Part time: £7,200
We offer a range of PhD studentships, partial scholarships, and academic prizes, to help with your research fees. Explore external funding, particularly the Research Councils, as well as other support.
Additional course related costs
Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.