PhD programmes

A PhD is an independent piece of research and writing that presents an original contribution to existing knowledge within a given discipline.

Student making notes in front of colourful street art

All our PhD students have the support of two (or more) supervisors to guide them through their projects, a dedicated training programme of support within our Department (which includes weekly workshops), and wider training provided by the University and the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP).

Most of our PhDs are undertaken full-time study, for which a typical project timeline would be as follows:

Year 1: Development of a detailed research proposal

Students engage in initial research training and work under their supervisors’ guidance to prepare a doctoral research proposal. The proposal positions their work within current academic debates through critical engagement with the literature and provides a detailed research design. After 9 months, this is assessed by a panel of academic staff: following a successful submission and ethical clearance, students progress to their primary research.

Year 2: Doctoral research and advanced research training

The focus of the second year is on data collection, and beginning to analyse your data. Dedicated Departmental workshops prepare you for these stages of your research, and we also encourage students to take advantage of the advanced research training provided by the University and the White Rose Doctoral Training Programme.

Year 3: Writing up and advanced research training

Students aim to complete their thesis and submit it within the third year. Advanced training in this final year focuses on analysis, articulating your project’s contribution to knowledge, and skills for employment (e.g. writing for publication.)

1+3 and +3 routes

In association with the Sheffield Methods Institute and the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership, we offer a 4-year route ('1+3') comprising a Masters in Social Research followed by three years of Doctoral study and advanced training, and a 3-year route ('+3') for students who already have significant social science research experience and/or training at doctoral level.

Nominations are now open for White Rose Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) Studentships commencing in October 2021. PhD applicants in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning are eligible for these Studentships.

Find out more

Part-time study

We also offer part-time PhD study, which normally takes around 6 years.