The School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences has a vibrant and multi-disciplinary research environment, which is home to a wide range of research projects that tackle important questions in the social sciences. We have an excellent international reputation for producing high quality research which has global impact. Our work is centred around three key themes: persistent and emerging socio-economic challenges, policy and practice in divided societies, and national global social justice.

If you are interested in pursuing doctoral research in Sociology at Ulster University, you’ll be joining a community of academics undertaking high-impact and policy-relevant research across a diverse range of issues including Victims, Truth, and Justice; Institutional Child Abuse; Identities and Representation; Legacies of Armed Conflict and the Politics of Memory. As well as disseminating research through international academic peer-reviewed publications and conferences, we have a strong track record of producing knowledge that reaches beyond the academic boundaries. We have built close working and collaborative relationships with civil society, a range of international NGOS and human rights organisations; and work with government, national and international oversight bodies and communities directly impacted by our research. The team’s outputs are recognised nationally and internationally, and we have a strong track record of achieving REF 4* impact rating and publication outputs, as well as securing highly competitive funding from prestigious bodies such as the British Academy, Leverhulme, AHRC, Irish Research Council and Royal Irish Academy.


Sociology at Ulster University

Successful PhD candidates will join a dynamic and vibrant research community and culture. Over the course of the programme, candidates will benefit from expert supervision, conduct high-quality research that makes a unique contribution to knowledge, as well as developing professionally in areas such as presentations, seminars and conferences within the School’s dynamic research environment. PhD candidates will also significantly benefit from our close collaborative links with a range of institutions and bodies including the NI Executive; Living Legacies Engagement Centre; North West Migrants Forum; Amnesty International; IFA; Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation; North West Cultural Partnership and The Inquiry Network. The Sociology team have strong research links with universities globally including Canada, Australia, Sweden, the United States, South Africa and Hong Kong.

Our expertise falls into the following main themes:

  • Inequalities and Injustices, Past and Present (Potential Supervisors: Prof Patricia Lundy; Dr Philip McDermott; Dr Niall Gilmartin; Dr Tawanda Nyawasha)
  • Identity and Representation (Potential Supervisors: Dr Philip McDermott, Dr Ciaran Acton)
  • Conflict, Peace and Security (Potential Supervisors: Prof Patricia Lundy; Dr Niall Gilmartin)
  • Popular Politics, Violence and Human Subjectivity (Potential Supervisors: Dr Tawanda Nyawasha)

We particularly welcome applicants interested in pursuing doctoral research in areas such as: justice and truth recovery; institutional abuse, gender, conflict, and peace; social justice and human rights; politics of memory; language rights; legacies of conflict; heritage, museums and minorities; sporting identities; social movements, violence and public protest; refugees and forced displacement. We invite interested applicants to initially contact a potential supervisor to discuss their proposal.

For more information on the research interests of each staff member in Sociology, please visit the Sociology page on the website of the Doctoral College. For more information on how to prepare an application, including how to draft a research proposal, please visit our School’s webpage that describes the variety of PhD Opportunities.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.