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School of Social Sciences

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PhD Applied Social Research

Address social, economic and political questions under expert research supervision.

PhD Applied Social Research / Programme details

Year of entry: 2018

Programme description

The Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMI) is an interdisciplinary research centre resulting from the merger (in August 2014) of the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR) and the Institute for Social Change (ISC). CMI provides a focal point at The University of Manchester, for the application of quantitative methods in interdisciplinary social science research in order to generate a world class research environment. The Institute builds on our existing strong reputation for quantitative social science and the development and application of advanced quantitative methods. CMI aims to be at the forefront, internationally, of quantitative social science research - encapsulating a wide range of topics and methods. A distinctive feature of the Institute is the application of advanced and innovative methods, within an interdisciplinary framework, to address social, economic and political questions.

CMI is directed by Prof Rachel Gibson and is based in the School of Social Sciences, which is itself based in the Faculty of Humanities. There are two PhD programmes: the Applied Social Research (ASR), and Social Statistics, directed by Prof Yaojun Li and Dr Nick Shryane respectively. Students on both programmes are co-located within CMI which aims to offer an outstanding environment for postgraduate study. Sociology (including Social Statistics) is 1st in the UK, based on the percentage of overall research activity that is world leading (4*), and 2nd based on research power. The School of Social Sciences' teaching was rated as 'excellent' in the last Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) teaching assessment exercise.

CMI welcomes PhD applications on our two main research themes Advanced Quantitative Methods and Social Dynamics. We especially welcome PhD applications related to our research groups on Survey Research (led by Natalie Shlomo), Administrative Data (led by Kingsley Purdam and Mark Elliot), Statistical Modelling (led by Mark Tranmer), Methods, Data Services and Training (led by Jackie Carter and Vanessa Higgins), Ethnicity, Religion and Migration (led by James Nazroo), Ageing, Health and Well-being (led by Chris Phillipson and Nick Shryane), Democracy, Citizens and Elections research (led by Rachel Gibson), and Class and Labour Dynamics (led by Yaojun Li and Wendy Olsen).

Students on the Applied Social Research PhD have the opportunity to apply for a placement in the course of their studies through the  Faculty of Humanities PhD Placement Scheme , subject to Supervisor approval.  The Faculty scheme is very flexible, with placements being carried out over a period of four weeks to three months on a full-time or part-time basis, depending on the requirements of the placement provider. 

There are two ways of taking a placement, either to apply for one of the placements that are advertised by one of our non-HEI partners, or to design and propose your own placement to a non-HEI organisation of your choice.  Support will be provided to those students who would like to do this.

Taking a placement offers you a number of benefits including:

  • To increase your employability skills;
  • The potential to demonstrate research impact;
  • Developing professional networking opportunities with non-HEI organisations which may be beneficial to your future career;
  • Demonstrating public engagement skills and participating in knowledge exchange.

Where a placement provider does not offer funding, there is an opportunity to apply for a stipend to the Faculty.  Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Associate Dean for PGR in Humanities.  For further information, please contact: Dr Louise Davies, email: .


Prof Yaojun Li

0161 275 0274


Teaching and learning

Graduate Teaching Assistants in the School of Social Sciences are considered to be valued members of the teaching team. As such, we take pride in the opportunities provided for the professional development of graduate teaching assistants. Our training includes preparation for application to the Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. This brings a range of benefits as follows:

  • consolidates your personal development and emphasises your professional practice in HE
  • entitlement to use post-nominal letters - AFHEA
  • provides a valuable measure of success and is increasingly sought by employers across the education sector as a condition of appointment and promotion
  • recognised and valued by a growing number of international institutions

More information on the Associate Fellowship HEA

Or, contact Gillian Evans (, our School of Social Sciences Graduate Teaching Assistant Coordinator. 

Details on how to apply for a TA position will be available here in due course.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: