4 years full time, 6 years part time
Choose to start in September 2017, January 2018 or May 2018

Social and Political Thought

Politics is inextricable from human society and our teaching reflects this. Our interdisciplinary approach goes beyond the academic divisions between sociology and social theory, and political theory and political philosophy. 

Areas of study

You have the opportunity to work on a wide range of research projects, including:

  • various European traditions of social theory, political sociology, and Marxist and Frankfurt School critical theory
  • Anglo-American political theory, constructivist theory from Kant to Rawls, and communitarian or neo-Aristotelian theory
  • figures of social and political thought, from Aristotle to Habermas
  • issues in postcolonialism, feminism and race critical theory.

PhD or MPhil?

You can choose to study for a PhD or an MPhil. PhD and MPhil degrees differ in the length of the course and therefore in the extent of the research work you can undertake and incorporate in your thesis.

  • An MPhil typically takes three years full time and four years part time. You’ll conduct an independent piece of research but in less depth than for a PhD. You will graduate with the degree title Master of Philosophy.
  • A PhD typically takes four years full time and six years part time. You will undertake a piece of research that makes a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding in your chosen field.

If you choose an MPhil, you might be able to change to a PhD during the course of your studies.

How to apply

If you’d like to join us as a research student, there are two main routes:

Find out how to apply for a PhD at Sussex

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to work on your research full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. For details about part-time study, contact Dr Gordon Finlayson, Graduate Convener for Philosophy, at


Explore our research interests and find a potential supervisor.

  • Faculty profiles

    Prof David Berry
    Professor of Digital Humanities

    Research interests: Algorithms, Code, Computation, Critical Digital Humanities, Critical Reason, Critical Theory, Digital Humanities, History of the University, Philosophy, Political economy, Post-digital, postdigital, Social and political theory, Software Studies, University

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    Dr Anthony Booth
    Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

    Research interests: Applied Philosophy, Epistemic Normativity, Epistemology, Ethics, Ethics of Belief, Gettier Cases, Islamic Epistemology, Philosophy Of Mind

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    Dr Andrew Chitty
    Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

    Research interests: Collective action, collective intentionality, constructivism in ethics, Ethics, Fichte, Hegel, Marxism, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, political theory, recognition theory

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    Prof Gerard Delanty
    Professor of Sociology & Social & Political Thought

    Research interests: capitalism, Cosmopolitanism, democracy, historical and political sociology, history and philosophy of the social sciences, modernity, Nationalism, Social and political theory, the european cultural and political heritage

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    Dr Gordon Finlayson
    Reader in Philosophy

    Research interests: Critical Theory, German Philosophy, Habermas, Hegel, History Of Philosophy, Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy

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    Dr Tarik Kochi
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: Critical Legal Theory, Critical Theory, Hegel, History and Theory of War, History of political economy, History of Political Thought, International Law, International Political Theory, Jurisprudence/Philosophy Of Law, Social and political theory

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    Dr Darrow Schecter
    Professor of Critical Theory and Modern European History

    Research interests: Critical Theory, critique of instrumental reason, Foucault, Gramsci, legitimacy, Libertarian socialism, Pasolini, systems theory

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    Dr Kenneth Veitch
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: health care law, medical law, obligation, Social policy, Social Theory, Socio Legal Studies, sociology of law, Welfare state

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Entry requirements

A Masters degree, or its equivalent, in a subject relevant to your chosen area of research.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our PhD degrees.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Scholarships and fees

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters Loan

MPhil students might be eligible for a Postgraduate Masters Loan. This is not available for students registering for a PhD.


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Part-time work

We advertise around 2,500 part-time jobs a year so you can make money and gain work experience. We have a special scheme to employ students on campus, wherever possible.

Find out more about careers and employability

How much does it cost?

Fees for self-funding students

Home: £4,195 per year

EU: £4,195 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £4,195 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Our fees follow the indicative fee level set nationally by Research Council UK and may be subject to change.

Contact us