Social Sciences

Key Information


Dependent on pathway


Dependent on pathway

Entry Requirements

See More


Brayford Pool

Start Dates in October and January

Programme Overview

Postgraduate research in the School of Social and Political Sciences is informed by the expertise of its team of academics, who have long-standing links to industry, government, research organisations, and the voluntary sector.

Opportunities for research are available across a range of topics in social and political sciences. Current students' research projects include:

- the 1984/5 miners' strikes
- gender and violence
- preventive diplomacy
- educational inequality
- female labour migration
- the 21st Century free party scene

Key Features

Conduct independent, original, and academically significant research

Benefit from training courses to develop key research skills

Supervision and support from an advisory panel of academic staff

Present at talks and seminars to showcase your work

Enrol in October or January each year

A student sat in the library reading a book

How You Study

Research students can enrol for MPhil or PhD awards. These degrees are normally undertaken wholly by thesis and can be carried out either on a full-time or a part-time basis.

The School aims to provide appropriate support to enable students to become independent researchers. Students are required to follow a structured pattern of activity during which their progress can be monitored and encouraged. Students are allocated two supervisors and the emphasis is on providing whatever training is required, as well as the development of knowledge.

Students are asked to contribute to the School's research seminar series, are able to apply for funding to attend conferences, and are encouraged to publish their work and to develop links with appropriate external networks.

Research students normally have two internal supervisors with specialist knowledge relevant to the student's subject area and research methods, and have regular meetings with them for advice, monitoring, and other support. Students can engage with external experts and advisors as necessary.

Students may also have the opportunity to contribute to teaching, subject to the necessary training.

Due to the nature of postgraduate research programmes, a significant portion of time will be spent in independent study and research. Students will meet with their academic supervisors at least once a month for full-time students, and every two months for part-time students.

Research Groups and Topics

Research Areas

Alongside these research groups, staff have expertise for postgraduate supervision a variety of research areas including:

  • Gender and violence
  • Fatherhood
  • Family
  • Terrorism
  • Culture and inequality
  • Sex work
  • Rural community
  • Homelessness

Further information about staff specialisms can be found on the web pages of the School of Social and Political Sciences.

Flexible Study

Meet Our Researchers

Juan Brito, PhD in International Relations

Hear from Juan Brito, a distance learning PhD student, who talks about his career background and research experiences at Lincoln. Juan's thesis is exploring the impact of ideas in foreign policy making, with a focus on the Liberal international order in the post-Cold War.

YouTube video for Meet Our Researchers

Research Proposals

You will need to produce a research proposal as part of your application for this programme. This is a project outline identifying what you want to study, why you want to investigate this area, and how you intend to conduct the research. You will also need to identify a potential supervisor at Lincoln whose research interests align with your own, and share your proposal and ideas with them before submitting your application.

Writing a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a project outline identifying what you want to study, why you want to investigate this area, and how you intend to conduct the research. You are not expected to be the expert, but you will need to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the subject and where your research will make a valuable contribution to the topic.

Remember that your proposal is the starting point of your research. It is normal for your ideas to evolve and develop, and for plans to change as you engage more deeply with the literature and begin working with your supervision team.

Length of Proposal

For a PhD your proposal should be 3,000 (excluding references). A Master’s by Research requires a proposal of around 1,500 words.

Structuring Your Research Proposal

There isn’t a prescribed format for the structure of a research proposal but the following section headings are generally considered to be important:

Working Title

A clear and succinct description of your research should be encapsulated in the title. Although this may not be the title of your final thesis, your proposal title should give a clear indication of the area you are interested in exploring.


The introduction should set the context, explaining what you will research, why it is of value, and how you propose to conduct your research. The introduction is your opportunity to demonstrate that your proposed research can make a significant contribution to existing bodies of literature, detailing how your research will fill a gap or develop/complete findings from previous research. Overall, you will be expected to show that you have a good knowledge of the wider context in which your research belongs and that you have awareness of methodologies, theories, and conflicting evidence in your chosen field.

Overview of Your Research

You should provide a short overview of your research and where it fits in existing academic discourses, debates, or literature. This should also cover your research objectives, why the research is needed, and what original contribution it can make. Make sure your overview is intelligible to someone who is not a specialist in this field

Literature Review

You won’t have had chance to review all the relevant literature at this stage, but you should be able to incorporate the major debates and issues, demonstrating that you understand your chosen field. Show how your research is original and how it will address the gaps in current knowledge. The conclusion of the review should include a statement of your research problem or question.


Your methodology section should detail how you will conduct your research and consider the following:

  • Methods of data collection and analysis
  • How you will access and recruit participants (if relevant)
  • Number of participants to be included (if relevant)
  • Ethical implications of your work
  • Any potential problems and challenges with your proposed methods and how these might be overcome.


You should provide a clear plan of how you will carry out the research from start to finish, breaking it down into the main components of the research project and identifying what you expect to do in each year of your studies. For a PhD, the maximum time you have from enrolment to submission is 48 months for a full-time student and 72 months for a part-time student. For a Master’s by Research, the maximum time allowed is 16 months full-time and 24 months part-time

Top Tips for a Good Research Proposal

  • Have a clearly stated research idea, question, or problem and be persuasive
  • Demonstrate how it is addressing a gap in the current knowledge and research
  • Develop a well-structured proposal (poorly formed or rambling proposals may raise concerns that the thesis could be the same)
  • Be reasonable and realistic in terms of scope
  • Show passion for the topic
  • Refine and edit your proposal before it is submitted
  • Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors
  • Leave the reader interested, excited, and wanting to know more
  • Demonstrate an understanding of research methods and research approaches and be clear that these are appropriate for your research question(s)
  • Refrain from using discipline-specific jargon unless it is absolutely necessary to communicating your idea effectively


How you are assessed

A PhD is usually awarded based on the quality of the student's thesis and ability to present and successfully defend their chosen research topic in an oral examination (viva voce). They are also expected to demonstrate how their research findings have contributed to knowledge or developed existing theory or understanding.

Entry Requirements 2024-25

Entry Requirements

MPhil: First or upper second class honours degree or Master's degree.

PhD: Master's degree with a research component.

International students will require English Language at IELTS 7.0. For more information, please visit:

Programme Fees

You will need to have funding in place for your studies before you arrive at the University. Our fees vary depending on the course, mode of study, and whether you are a UK or international student. You can view the breakdown of fees for this programme below. Research students may be required to pay additional fees in addition to cover the cost of specialist resources, equipment and access to any specialist collections that may be required to support their research project. These will be informed by your research proposal and will be calculated on an individual basis.

Programme Fees

How to Apply

Postgraduate Research Application Support

Find out more about the application process for research degrees and what you'll need to complete on our How to Apply page, which also features contact details for dedicated support with your application.

How to Apply
A student sit with a laptop and notepad

Funding Your Research

Loans and Studentships

Find out more about the options available to support your postgraduate research, from Master's and Doctoral Loans, to research studentship opportunities. You can also find out more about how to pay your fees and access support from our helpful advisors.

Explore Funding Options
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Career Development

A doctoral qualification can be the capstone of academic achievement and often marks the beginning of a career in academia or research. A research programme provides the opportunity to become a true expert in your chosen field, while developing a range of valuable transferable skills that can support your career progression. A research-based degree is also the most direct pathway to an academic career. PhDs and research degrees are a great chance to expand your network and meet diverse people with similar interests, knowledge, and passion.

The University’s Doctoral School provides a focal point for Lincoln’s community of researchers, where ideas and experiences can be developed and shared across disciplines. It also offers support and training to help equip you for both academic and non-academic careers.

Doctoral School

Academic Contact

For more information about this course, please contact:

Dr Joshua Skoczylis

Research at Lincoln

Through our research, we are striving to change society for the better. Working with regional, national, and international partners, our academics are engaged in groundbreaking studies that are challenging the status quo. We also understand the importance of providing the best possible environment for pursuing research that can support our communities and make a tangible difference to the world around us.

Explore Our Research
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The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.