Social sciences

  • we are one of the largest centres of social sciences doctoral training in the UK and 10 of 12 subjects we submitted ranked in the top 15 nationally in the 2008
    Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)
  • internationally ranked policy think-tanks with strong links to Government and the NGO sector
  • interdisciplinary and internationally focused research degrees at the heart of the social sciences

Research in the social sciences at Sussex covers all the major social sciences disciplines, and a number of specialist interdisciplinary areas in which Sussex has an international reputation, including childhood and youth studies, conflict and security, European studies, gender studies, global health, human rights, international development, international education, migration studies, and science and technology policy research.

In the 2008 RAE, research produced by over 130 social sciences staff was judged to be internationally excellent or world leading.

Recognising the state's true role in driving innovation

There is a common conception that the private sector drives innovation and economic growth, while the state, at best, plays only a housekeeping role in ‘fixing market failures’. 

Professor Mariana Mazzucato debunks the myth of the state as a bureaucratic nanny that stifles creativity in industry, and instead recognises the vital role of state-led investment in driving innovation and shaping and creating new markets, from the internet to biotech to clean tech. For example, her research shows how every bit of technology that makes Apple’s iPhone so smart was ‘picked’ by public-sector funding: the internet, GPS, touchscreen display and the voice-activated Siri software. And even Apple Inc. itself received some of its early-stage financing from a public grant.

By failing to recognise the state as a source for major business innovation we run the risk of economic stagnation and the loss of inventive new technology. Professor Mazzucato’s work has influenced policy across the world, changing the political discourse on how governments should invest in and drive innovation. 

For more information, visit Research at Sussex

Sussex hosts a prestigious Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Training Centre, one of only 21 in the country. All postgraduate research degrees are underpinned by our commitment to provide the highest-quality research training, informed by cutting-edge research, and taught by established academic staff whose work is internationally recognised in their field.

Research training draws on established research-led Masters degrees, a number of which are recognised as research training pathways into doctoral research.

Sussex research in the social sciences is particularly recognised for its high level of impact in policy fields. This is reflected in a high degree of interaction with UK Government departments and international organisations in these fields, including two major research centres funded by the Department for International Development on migration and poverty, and access to education. We also host the ESRC Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre.

The University is home to SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit, which was ranked 2nd science and policy think-tank in the UK and 11th in the world (University of Pennsylvania: Global Go-To Think-Tanks Report 2012).

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS), which is also housed on the Sussex campus, was ranked 1st university-affiliated think-tank in the UK and 3rd in the world (University of Pennsylvania: Global Go-To Think-Tanks Report 2012).