Friday, 13 February 2009

Postgraduate opportunities in Sociology and Criminology at Keele

It's that time of year when third year students are getting their heads down on their dissertation, worrying about finals and whether there will be any jobs left in a few months (now that the merchant bankers have destroyed the economy...). Some of them, crazy though it might sound, are even wondering if they might carry on studying, now that they're only just working out what it is all about. Now (and we mean right now) is the time to get your act together if you would like to do some postgraduate study.

So what are the opportunities in Sociology and Criminology at Keele? Well, if you want to study Sociology, you might like to take our Masters in Research in Sociology, which offers ESRC-recognised research training with the chance of taking some advanced specialist modules in research-led fields. Sociology (with colleagues across Keele University) will shortly be advertising a Masters in Urban Futures (subject to University final approval, this course should be available from Autumn 2009 - please check back on this blog and the Sociology homepage for updates). Criminology also has a Masters' and Postgraduate Diploma in the Ethics of Policing and Criminal Justice, which is taught jointly with the Centre for Professional Ethics. This course is particularly useful for those already working in the areas of policing and criminal justice such as police and probation officers, magistrates etc, but applications are welcome from anyone with an interest in this field.

Often students take the MRes as a first step towards doing a Doctorate. PhD training is perhaps one of the most difficult but most rewarding postgraduate routes and if you've got a lot of dedication, a real niggling research question you'd like to solve (perhaps something you've been wondering in your dissertation but haven't been able to follow up...?) and you're prepared to work hard to apply for funding or help support yourself through it, you're probably the right person. You will need to work up a research proposal for a project you'd like to do, and be supervised by someone who is a specialist in that area or related area. Have a look at the research interests and specialist supervision areas of the Sociology group for a better idea of the fields we're interested in. You can also take a similar programme in Criminology and you can see the research interests and specialist supervision areas of the Criminology group here. A PhD is a route into a number of careers, notably professional social research in say Local Authorities, charities and thinktanks, an academic career in research and teaching, or as a 'career' researcher working on different and new projects.

So why Keele? You might start by having a look at the previous blog entry about Keele's success in the recent Research Assessment Exercise, in which staff in Criminology and Sociology had their research rated Internationally Excellent. This blog also gives some reasons why Keele is a great place to study. We particularly welcome International students to Keele - there is a thriving International student community at Keele with visitors from around the world. You can find some information mostly intended for undergraduate International students here but much of it applies to postgraduates also.

But the big question is all about the money. There's no doubt that funding for postgraduate courses and research is a very limited pot and it is highly competitive. It is particularly difficult to get external funding for a taught Masters' and if you can support yourself, you have a much stronger chance of fulfilling your ambitions. You need to have or expect a good (2.1 or above) degree to have a hope of applying for funds. You will also need a decent idea for a research project, even if you're going to apply for the 1+3 route (that is, taking the MRes first) and you will need to get your skates on as most of the deadlines are the end of February! The ESRC application deadline is later but you need to work with us to submit a good application and to have a chance of internal funding, so contact someone as soon as possible.

There are some (very competitive) options for funding at Keele, for example what is called a 1+3 route for Sociology - if you want to apply for this route, you need to get in touch with us NOW to help formulate your application: only the best candidates with the best ideas will get put forward.

If you're interested in Criminology or certain areas of Sociology, there are a few more options. The Institute of Law, Politics and Justice - which hosts all of the Criminology staff and some Sociology - has some dedicated studentships for priority areas plus a +3 scholarship (ie for someone who already has an appropriate Masters') - you can find more details on this link (look at the LPJ details). However, in all cases, we will be encouraging potential students to submit applications to external bodies such as the Economic and Social Research Council - so please have a look at their requirements and deadlines also.

All staff in Sociology and Criminology would be happy to advise you on specific issues to do with your areas of interest, but if you want to enquire more generally, could you please contact the following people:

MRes (Sociology or Criminology): Dr Lydia Martens
MA Urban Futures: Dr Mark Featherstone
MA Ethics of Policing and Criminal Justice:
PhD (including 1+3 options) for Sociology: Dr Lydia Martens and for Criminology: Prof Anne Worrall,

The postgraduate Taught course (Masters') prospectus is here - although it is not updated as frequently as this blog or our School homepage. You can also contact the Graduate School for information on applying for postgraduate Research degrees (PhD) at Keele. The Postgraduate Research Prospectus is here - although this information is not as frequently updated as this blog.

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