Research Degrees

All of the Academic Divisions in the Faculty of Social Sciences invite PhD applications.

The research areas are only broadly indicative, and our staff place great store by creative and innovative approaches to issues whether they are novel or familiar – and to intellectual analysis, both established and path-breaking.

Subjects we supervise include the following areas:

Development Studies

Development Studies emphasises the applied and policy-relevant approaches to research, and this is reflected in the consultancy work which staff have undertaken for a number of governments and international organisations.

The Division's areas of research include:

  • foreign direct investment
  • trade liberalisation
  • the operations of multinational corporations
  • issues arising from resource-based economies
  • sustainable livelihoods
  • human rights and capabilities
  • social justice
  • water research
  • regional development challenges within the UK
  • accountability mechanisms
  • poverty
  • inequality
  • democracy

Under these broad headings, a very considerable variety of doctoral research projects find an accommodating and stimulating intellectual environment.

Economics

Current areas of research broadly come under two categories:

  • Trade and Integration
  • Social Economics.

Research on Trade and Integration includes inquiry into the economic interaction between countries and regions encompassing globalisation and trade, the impact of FDI and trade on economic growth, contemporary aspects of European political economy and strategies for economic growth.

Social Economics includes inquiry into the individual and social dimensions of economic problems, the foundations and implications of economic analysis and the application of an economic approach to social and political questions, such as corruption and anti-corruption policy; consumption, lifestyle, culture and behaviour; job satisfaction, employee involvement and management; and progressive economic policy. 

History and Humanities

The History Division covers international, political, diplomatic and cultural history of modern Europe, including areas of expertise such as the history of ideas, and environmental history.

In Philosophy, our research is focused on the history and philosophy of science and philosophy of the mind.

In English literature, our expertise encompasses contemporary literature and gender theory, and Victorian to contemporary children’s literature.

Humanities host a regular series of Royal Institute of Philosophy seminars and a lively and diverse speaker series in modern European and global history.

Peace Studies

The culture of research in Peace Studies is unique and interdisciplinary, involving field-based, theoretical and applied knowledge creation. While issues-based work remains important, theoretical research is no less valued – indeed we regard it as essential to the continuing work of trying to address some of the most vexed and troubling problems of our time.

Key focuses include:

  • Disarmament (from small arms and light weapons to WMD and biological arms control)
  • innovative work in Participation Studies including research on social class, ethnicity, gender and human rights
  • research undertaken within the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS)
  • research on development in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America on democratisation and gender and development
  • research from the pioneering Centre for Conflict Resolution on conflict analysis, peace-building from below and humanitarian intervention

Other Regions in Conflict studied include east-central Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Central America.

Peace Studies is multi-disciplinary and we invite applications from suitably qualified and motivated individuals, whatever their disciplinary background. 

Psychology

The Psychology Division encompasses a range of theoretical and applied researchers.

The Division has a particularly strong focus in the areas of health psychology and behaviour change.

The Applied Health and Social Psychology Group has an increasing national and international reputation receiving Economic and Social Research Council and NHS funding for research. The Group’s work is inclusive of research on:

  • gender and health
  • motherhood
  • eating behaviour
  • social norms and health behaviours
  • alcohol and drug misuse
  • community development and practice
  • inequalities in health and mental health
  • neuropsychological disorders
  • diversity in prisons

Members of the Bradford Cognition and Brain Group in the Division of Psychology work collaboratively with colleagues from the Faculty of Life Sciences to explore cognitive development and neuropsychological functioning.

Social Policy

Government deliberation and public debate over social policy has never seemed more topical – and in some particulars, never more urgent.

Our vibrant Social Policy Division engages both the practical and theoretical aspects of contemporary social policy at the international, national and local levels across a wide range of issues.

These include:

  • criminal justice studies
  • policing
  • hate crime
  • racism in prisons
  • human trafficking
  • youth offending
  • families, ethnicities and identities
  • transnational identities
  • anti-Muslim racism/Islamophobia
  • ethnicity and religion
  • gender and ethnicity
  • gender and sexuality
  • violence against women
  • work-life balance in Britain and Europe
  • individualisation and new families
  • parenting and partnering
  • children and young people’s participation
  • identity and self
  • contested sexualities
  • the economics of personal behaviour

Social Work and Social Care

In addition to collaborations with Social Policy and Psychology, the Social Work Division undertakes important and timely work on a range of Social care issues.

Social care is a vital social function, and social work is one of the major means by which the state intervenes in personal welfare, yet both are often both underplayed and under-researched.

Research in this area seeks to redress the balance, when the importance of social care is re-emerging as traditional forms of working and living decay while the content and form of social work has changed dramatically over the last decade.

Current research addresses this agenda in the following linked strands:

  • understanding policy and practice with children and families in the context of gender, culture and life experience, such as family support, mothering and fathering, child welfare policy and practice, adults who were in care as children, men as sexual offenders, child sexual abuse among Asian communities, and adoption and divorce
  • religion and spirituality in social work, including the needs, strengths and difficulties that arise in practice from the religious, spiritual and other beliefs both service users and practitioners
  • the experiences of service users, including the family carers of dementia sufferers
  • the eellbeing and autonomy of older people in care
  • the organisation and management of social work, such as interprofessional working
  • ‘new managerialism’ in social work, and service organisation

Structure of your research degree

A research degree gives you the opportunity to determine your own field of study. Your supervisor(s) will help formulate your research topic and ensure you are on schedule to complete your research on time. Research projects are, almost by definition, unique. It is not easy to describe a typical project. However, certain common features apply to all.

In order to confirm your progression to PhD a recommendation must be made by a Progression Panel proposed by your supervisor. If you opt nevertheless to submit for an MPhil then your remaining work should be accomplished in the following year.

The second year of your PhD programme may well be taken up with actual data collection. Towards the end of the year it should be possible to attempt an initial analysis of your results.

In the third year you may conduct detailed collation and analysis of your results, and organise them into a logical and persuasive thesis.

Following submission, your thesis will be read by two examiners. Your supervisor will also already have read your thesis, and may be consulted by the examiners. You will then be required to attend an oral examination, at which will be expected you to answer questions on your thesis.