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Course content

This pathway enables you to study social changes at an advanced level. It provides an opportunity for in-depth study of some key dimensions of modern society. The scope of this pathway is deliberately broad to allow students to study any area of sociology where the department has the expertise to supervise dissertations.

It aims to integrate the consideration of themes in social theory with the study of substantive topics, as well as give a thorough grounding in research methods. There are four elements:

1. Social theory: This course aims to stimulate a critical, globally conscious theoretical reflexivity. Above all, it provides students with the tools for a wide range of social interpretation and analysis, particularly of the contemporary social world.

2. Modern society: This part of the course has a modular structure. Modules consider a series of key dimensions or institutions of modern society with particular emphasis on current changes resulting from the interaction of global forces and national institutions. All of the modules being taught on all of the sociology MPhil pathways are available to students doing this pathway, as well as several other modules on topics such as ‘health and illness’ and ‘globalisation’.

3. Research methods: This includes sessions on philosophical issues in the social sciences; research design; data collection and analysis in relation to quantitative and qualitative methods; reflection on research ethics and practice; library and computer skills. Your dissertation supervisor will advise you on which courses to take.

4. Dissertation: A dissertation on a topic of your choice but broadly related to one of the Modern Society modules. A research supervisor will assist you in refining your research topic, conducting the research and writing the dissertation. A dissertation workshop provides the opportunity to present aspects of your dissertation work and to receive constructively critical feedback from course teachers and fellow students.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/hssompsgt

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the programme students should have:

- an advanced understanding of current sociological research in selected topics;
- skills necessary to conduct independent social research and experience in their use;
- an ability to apply and develop modern social theory with respect to empirical topics;
- a deeper understanding of their chosen specialist area, including command of the literature and current research;
- the ability to situate their own research within current developments in the field.


The course offers teaching on Social Theory, Substantive modules and Research Methods. Students work towards a written dissertation supported by supervisions and a dissertation workshop.

- Students typically receive bi-weekly supervisions over 8 weeks
- Modern Society modules 12 hours x 4 modules; Research Methods 12 hours x 2 modules; 72 hours hours per year.
- Social Theory 8 hours hours per year.
- Dissertation workshop 10 hours hours per year.
- Within the Department various journal clubs are offered 8 hours per week.
- Students conduct a critical appraisal as part of the training.
- The Department runs a dissertation workshop in the first term.

Students receive written feedback on each essay and the dissertation. Feedback is also given during the dissertation workshop on the direction and progress of the dissertation research.


Students write a dissertation of not less than 15,000 and not more than 20,000 words on a subject approved by the Degree Committee.

Students write one methods essay of not less than 2,500 and not more than 3,000 words (or prescribed course work) and two substantive essays of not less than 4,000 and not more than 5,000 words.


Students are encouraged to proceed to the Faculty's PhD programme, provided they reach a high level of achievement in all parts of the course. MPhil students who would like to continue to the PhD would normally need to have a final mark of at least 70% overall and 70% on the dissertation.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

The Department of Sociology holds ESRC funding awards. Sociology is a recognised Doctoral Training Centre pathway toward a PhD. Therefore candidates for the MPhil in Sociology (Modern Society and Global Transformations) can apply for 1+3 ESRC funding.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in Sociology (Modern Society and Global Transformations) page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!





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Recipient: University of Cambridge

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