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MRes - In the subject area of Sociology

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

This Master's by Research will take place within our Faculty of Health & Social Sciences. 

A Master's by Research (MRes) provides you with the opportunity for you to tailor your studies to your specific research interests or career aspirations, which would be assessed via submission of a thesis and a viva voce. Undertaking an MRes within the field of sociology at BU will allow you to collaborate with world-leading researchers in these areas.

You can set out to find the answer to a particular research question and will have the chance to delve more deeply into a subject area that you are passionate about. We strongly encourage collaboration across specialisms.

Your research project will be developed in collaboration with our academic University staff who will provide you with specialist knowledge and supervisory input, while accessing BU's technical facilties and information resources.

You will also be part of BU's wider postgraduate community and have access to the suite of research, professional and personal training offered through the Doctoral College and your Academic faculty.

The minimum completion time for the full-time course is 12 months with flexibility to take up to 18 months. If you would prefer to complete the course part-time, the minimum completion time is 24 months with flexibility to take up to 36 months to complete.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, January 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot and Lansdowne campuses


12-18 months full-time or 24-36 months part-time

Entry requirements:

An Honours degree at 2:1 or higher, or equivalent. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our International entry requirements

Course details

Our MRes' are available in the following areas: 

Political psychology

  • Political psychology is a broad interdisciplinary area; we are particularly interested in the study of the emotional public sphere (which includes public affect and public opinion, free speech and polarisation, the emotional impacts of news, and leadership), as well as psychosocial studies of violent extremism. Email: Prof Barry Richards or call 01202 965331.

Emotions, culture and society: sociological and psychosocial approaches

  • Sociological approaches to emotions, intimacy and desire in contemporary society including understanding what the sociology of emotions contributes to understanding relationships. Psychosocial approaches to understanding emotions in society in relation to politics, identity and social well-being. Email: Prof Ann Brooks or Prof Barry Richards or call 01202 962169.

Sociology of the media and popular culture

  • Sociological approaches to understanding the media and popular culture in contemporary society. Looks at an international focus to a range of media and popular culture related issues including: media and cultural consumption; cultural identity; fashion and style; dance, body and popular culture; visual popular culture; and digital technology and social networking. Email: Prof Ann Brooks or call 01202 962169.

Psychoanalysis, culture and society

  • Combines sociological and psychodynamic understandings of the relationship between self, culture and society in different contexts, including the study of gender, politics, emotion, visual culture, popular culture. Email: Prof Candida Yates or call 01202 965106. 

Families, religion & society

  • Sustained mass migration, diaspora and the growth in transnational families throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century has profound impacts on many societies across the world. Changing family compositions, meanings of family, expressions of filial piety permeate these changing societies creating new demands to understand and respond to cultural heritage and novelty, histories and biographies. The continuing importance of religion, faith and spirituality in the lives of individuals and their families represents part of a wider set of intersecting changes and super-diversities. Email: Prof Jonathan Parker or call 01202 962810

The MRes is focused on the development of generic research knowledge and critical analysis skills applied to independent research on an approved topic. Your research would normally involve a literature study, an experimental or hypothesis-testing phase, an evaluation phase and a writing-up phase.

Your independent research would be written up as a thesis, which is expected to be between 15,000 and 30,000 words (depending on the discipline). 

Assessment of your thesis will consist of:

  • A presentation of the thesis 
  • An oral examination, normally including a 30 minute presentation and 60 minute viva voca examination.

An MRes is also a good precursor to a PhD, allowing you to develop your research skills, enhance your ability to critically analyse information and solve complex problems. During your MRes you will:

  • Undertake research methods training to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the research methods used within the field of sociology
  • Critically analyse information in the literature within your chosen field to identify information gaps, and develop and design a research project which addresses an issue within your chosen field
  • Carry out your research project
  • Produce a written critical analysis of the research data
  • Present your research through a thesis and defend it by viva voce (oral) examination, to the satisfaction of examiners.

There is no formally assessed taught component in an MRes, but you will be expected to engage with the Postgraduate Researcher Development Framework, which includes research methodology training. You'll develop your research project in conjunction with experienced academics in your field of interest, who will then provide supervisory support and can introduce their specialist knowledge.

An MRes is the ideal programme for you if you would like to undertake more comprehensive training into original research, or if you want to undertake professional development training in your specific subject area.


In undertaking your MRes you will be supported at BU by:

  • Your Academic faculty - through your Supervisors, immediate research community, postgraduate researcher peers and your Research Administrator
  • The Doctoral College - through professional and personal development opportunities and the wider postgraduate community
  • Academic Services - through a network of purpose built libraries and open-learning centres equipped with the latest technology, including on-line virtual learning environments.

Your supervisory team will:

  • Provide appropriate support and guidance regarding BU’s research degree regulations, policies and procedures
  • Give support when you are planning your research project, progressing through key milestones to successfully completing in the expected timeframe
  • Maintain regular contact with you and provide constructive feedback on written work and during meetings to support your progress
  • Advise you on professional and personal skill development training opportunities
  • Give guidance about attending and presenting your work at internal and external seminars and conferences
  • Advise on publication of your work in journals and other appropriate media.

Full entry requirements

We would normally expect you to have an Honours degree at Upper Second Class (2:1).

Some supervisors may ask you for additional entry requirements such as relevant work experience, evidence of written work, or previous study of a particular subject.

As entry requirements can vary, it is important to discuss your application in principle before submitting a formal application.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our international entry requirements page.

How to apply

You can apply for a MRes in Sociology by clicking on the 'apply now' button and completing the application form. You will need to create an account and complete the application form in full. You can save the form as you go, enabling you to return to it at as many times as you want before submitting. The form is split into tabbed sections. As you complete each of the tabbed sections they will turn green - only click submit once all of your tabs are highlighted green.

We will take the following factors into account when considering your application:

  • Academic qualifications
  • The nature and viability of your proposed research
  • The university's capacity to provide you with appropriate supervision throughout your research
  • English language proficiency
  • Evidence of access to appropriate resources to support your living costs and pay registration fees over the period of your research.

As part of your application, you will need to specify how you plan to fund your studies and provide a personal statement. Please be aware that CVs and academic profiles will not be considered unless they are accompanied by a completed application form.

You do not need to write a thesis as part of your application. 

You can find further guidance about applying for a MRes in our Postgraduate Research section.

Every year, we offer a number of fully-funded doctoral opportunities across our faculties - you can see what funding is available in your area of interest here.

Application deadlines

There are three main entry points for research degrees: September, January and April. The deadlines for applications are as follows:

  • For the summer term (starting in April) – 31 January
  • For the autumn term (starting in September) – 30 June
  • For the spring term (starting in January) – 31 October.

If you have any enquiries please email


Undertaking a research degree will not only allow you to carry out research in a specialist field, it will also equip you with a range of transferable skills that can be applied to roles within project management, commercial research and development, or consultancy services.

You may decide that you would like to pursue a career within academia, developing the research that you undertake during your MRes and sharing your expertise with others who have an interest in a similar field.

What our researchers say

Clare Farrance

My experiences as a community physiotherapist inspired me to pursue my research into improving physical activity in older people.
View Clare's profile

What our researchers say

Emma Mosley

The Graduate School helped me secure funding to pay for expert training related to my research.
View Emma's profile
Science forensic toxicology research

Fees and funding

Find out about the fees and different funding options for postgraduate research degrees.

About the Doctoral College

About the Doctoral College

Learn how the Doctoral College can support you and find out more about our role in postgraduate student life.

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International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.