Social and Policy Studies

Qualification(s) available: PhD

Entry requirements
3 years
6 years
Start date
1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October
UK fee
To be confirmed
International fee


Social and Policy Studies at Loughborough has long been recognised as an international centre of academic excellence and for our cutting-edge interdisciplinary work.

Our Social and Policy Studies department is home to world-leading, original and internationally excellent research in sociology, criminology and social policy.

Our staff work with a wide range of public and third sector bodies (including BBC Trust, Metropolitan Police, the Electoral Commission, the College of Mediators, UK Drug Policy Commission, and the Department of Health).

The School is home to a lively community of 110 postgraduates working closely with 80 specialist supervisors who conduct research at the cutting-edge of developments in their fields.

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Why you should choose us

Our research

Applied criminal justice

The applied criminal justice research strand has a dual focus on promoting non-criminal identities and evidence-based policy transfer and is pursued through collaboration with key criminal justice stakeholders (ie Youth Offending Teams, the Youth Justice Board, the Police, Probation and Prison services). Our objective is to inform and shape evidence-based policy and practice agendas through participatory research with vulnerable groups such as children, victims and ex-offenders.

Theme lead: Prof. Stephen Case

Children, young people and families

The children, young people and families cluster focuses on generating and delivering high quality, high impact academic research with an applied objective – to inform and influence government policy and professional practice (both nationally and globally) on children and families, and to transform lives. Our work includes research on young carers, low income households and youth justice. Our research is designed to enhance participation and inclusion and promotes the rights and 'voices' of all those who take part. The Centre for Research in Social Policy is world-renowned for its influential work on the Minimum Income Standard, as well as on experiences of families on low incomes and the effects of child poverty.

Theme lead: Prof. Jo Aldridge

Intersectionalities and citizenship

Social identities such as gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, religion, age and disability can empower and mobilise people to action, but societal structures, hegemonic norms and power relations also work to marginalise and oppress different constituencies and individuals. Researchers within this theme examine how intersections between social identities influence and are influenced by societal processes such as migration, nationalism, social cohesion, collective movements and citizenship practises. Research in this cluster intersects with research in the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture and the research theme of Migration, Identities and Governance in the School of Social Sciences.

Theme lead: Dr Line Nyhagen

Digital and health technologies

Digital and other new technologies are changing individuals’ social interactions and identities, healthcare systems and practices, cultural institutions, inequalities and economic and financial structures and processes. Drawing on Science and Technology Studies (STS), Critical Realism and classical theories in sociology and medical sociology, researchers in this cluster investigate how new technologies are changing our everyday lives and practices, healthcare and cultural institutions and the operations of global economies and finance. Research in this cluster intersects with research in the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture and the Health and Wellbeing Global Research Challenge.

Theme lead: Dr Paula Saukko

Consumption, culture and inequalities

Researchers working within this cluster explore the processes by which consumption practices and cultural engagements are shaped by and influence upon social identities and structural inequalities. Exploring how cultural preferences and consumer habits unfold within the everyday lives of individuals, groups and communities reveals complex dynamics of freedom and constraint. Research in this area informs public and policy debates about consumption, culture and lifestyles as sites of belonging and self-expression as well as poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Research in this cluster intersects with research in the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture and the Centre for Research in Social Policy.

Theme lead: Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read

Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

Social and Policy Studies is proud to be part of the ESRC Midlands Graduate School DTP in partnership with the universities of Warwick, Nottingham, Birmingham, Aston and Leicester.

Your development

You will be assigned two supervisors who are international experts in their respective fields, plus an internal reviewer and a Director of Doctoral Programmes. This team provides tailored academic and pastoral support throughout your studies.

The School runs an extensive programme of research training and you will have the chance to participate in and run seminars and discussion groups. These will help you integrate into the School’s academic community and develop skills that will enable you to present your work at national and international conferences. You will be provided with access to a shared office with networked PC and specialist software, allowances for photocopying, conference attendance and interlibrary loans.

Undertaking a PhD will give you the opportunity to develop new and highly sought-after skills, which you can apply to a range of careers in academia, industry and beyond. You will be able to make a novel contribution to knowledge, giving you the chance to become a world expert in your field and opening up opportunities with a range of leading employers. You will also further develop your transferable skills, such as advanced research skills, time and project management, and networking and relationship building.

Our extensive training provision, supported by the Doctoral College, will also enhance your skills and experience as a researcher. These include the Doctoral College’s Café Academiques, Research Conference and Summer Showcase.

Your future career

Graduates from the department go into a range of industries including television, marketing, academia, publishing, plus many more.

They work for companies and organisations such as China Development Research Foundation, Elsevier Ltd, Image Line Communications, Institute of Psychiatry, Metropolitan Police Service, Oxfam and X-Pert Med GmbH.

Entry requirements

Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours. To learn the equivalent for your country, please choose it from the dropdown below.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

A 2:1 honours degree or (equivalent international qualification) in a relevant discipline.

Applicants without a postgraduate qualification will be required to complete research training in tandem with their doctoral programme.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Fees and funding

UK fee

Full-time degree per annum
To be confirmed

International fee

Full-time degree per annum

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

If you can't find an advertised project that fits your interests and experience, you can submit a research proposal to the School of Social Sciences and Humanities to find a supervisor who will work with you on your project. You can view our list of areas of supervision on our website or you can email us for guidance.

Your research proposal should be up to 5,000 words long (at least 5 to 7 double-spaced pages) and details about what should be included in it can be found here.

You are strongly recommended to contact us before applying to discuss your topic, availability and funding.

Apply now