Master of Philosophy in Sociology and Demography

The regulations made by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Department of Sociology are as follows:

Qualifying test

Every candidate must pass a qualifying test at the end of the third term from the beginning of the course in the four compulsory papers, Methods of Social Research, Sociological Analysis, Demographic Analysis, Life Course Research and one Optional Paper from the list of optional papers, specified by the Department of Sociology. This list will be published annually by Friday of the third week of Michaelmas Full Term in the Department of Sociology. Where coursework forms a part of the assessment, two typewritten copies must be delivered to the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford, by noon on Friday of the eighth week of the Trinity Full Term in which the examination is to be taken unless otherwise specified in the Graduate Studies Handbook, or, in the case of options taken outside the Department of Sociology, as specified by the department or faculty concerned. The examiners may examine candidates viva voce. Candidates who fail the qualifying test are allowed to retake the test before the beginning of the first week of the next academic year. Such candidates are required to retake only those elements of the qualifying test that they have failed. Candidates who fail only one out of the five papers may, by permission of the Sociology Graduate Studies Committee, proceed to the second year of the course and re-sit the failed paper at the same time as the final examination. No candidate will be permitted to re-sit any of the compulsory papers more than once.

Final Examination

Every candidate must offer:

  • 1. One further optional paper from the list of optional papers specified by the Department of Sociology;

  • 2. A paper in the Replication project as specified in the Graduate Studies Handbook;

  • 3. A thesis9 of not more than 30,000 words on a topic within the subject of the course, to be specified jointly by supervisor and student; two typewritten copies to be delivered to the Examination Schools, High St, Oxford, by noon on Friday of the sixth week of the Trinity Full Term in which the examination is to be taken. Successful candidates will be required to deposit a copy of their thesis in the Department of Sociology. Candidates are warned that they should avoid repetition in their theses of material used in their option papers and that substantial repetition may be penalised.

The examiners may examine any candidate viva voce.

The examiners may award a Distinction for excellence in the whole examination on the basis of the material submitted to them in both the qualifying and the final examination.

Compulsory Papers

Methods of Social Research

The satisfactory completion of a course of practical work including (i) statistical methods, and (ii) research design. Candidates shall submit reports of the practical work completed to the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford, by the following deadlines: for (i) statistical methods by 12 noon on Friday of the fifth week of the second term of the course; for (ii) research design by 12 noon on Monday of the first week of the third term of the course. The reports must be accompanied by a statement that they are the candidate's own work except where otherwise indicated. For (i) statistical methods, candidates will also be required to take a two-hour in-class test to be held on the Friday preceding the first week of the second term of the course. The Director of Graduate Studies, or a deputy, shall draw to the attention of the examiners the names of any candidates who have failed to complete to a satisfactory level of quality the course of practical work, and the examiners may require candidates to retake the course or a specified part thereof. The reports of practical work shall be available for inspection by the examiners.

Sociological Analysis

The object and objective of sociological analysis in relation to other social sciences. The nature of different sociological explanations, their possibilities and methodological implications. The relevance of rationality and of its limits with regard to both individual agents and institutions. The interrelationships between description and explanation, theory and empirical data, macro- and micro-levels of analysis as they emerge from areas of major sociological enquiry.

Demographic Analysis

The object and objective of demographic analysis in relation to other social sciences. Core demographic concepts, their related indicators and methods; and their application to the study of populations and population change. Demographic transition; the Second Demographic Transition; Fertility; Mortality; Migration; Life Tables; Temporal dimensions in demography; Demographic data.; Population projections.

Life Course Research

The theoretical foundation and practical implementation of the multilevel, actor-oriented life course approach in its application to demographic and sociological problems; the theoretical implications of life course designs; methods, design, and statistical techniques of life course research; key life course events (including births, deaths, migrations and relationship transitions); the role of the historical and geographical context for individual life courses; the role of kinship and network ties; and the role of human development (e.g. generalising the traditional demographic emphasis on period, cohort and age).[For students starting before MT 2017: Candidates shall submit research essay or reports as specified in the graduate studies handbook.]

9 See the general regulations concerning the preparation and dispatch of theses.