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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Welcome from the Head of Department

Welcome to Durham University’s Department of Sociology.

Have you ever asked yourself whether higher education can address social inequalities? Why domestic and sexual violence seem to be so difficult to prevent and address? Whether diverse communities can work together for socially just change? Why in a rich country such as Britain, the health of the poorest people lags so far behind the richest? Whether prison works? If you have then Sociology at Durham is for you. We’ve got sociologists, criminologists, and social work academics who are passionate about working with students to find the answer to these questions and more.

In the Department of Sociology at Durham, academics, postgraduate researchers, and students are collectively developing and applying their ‘sociological imagination’ to make sense of a range of social phenomena and some of the most intractable social problems: social inequality and its implications for social mobility, education and health; and the impacts of violence and abuse, help-seeking and state responses. We are also concerned to work in collaborative and participative ways with communities both within and external to the university, locally, nationally and internationally to effect social justice and social change. Underpinning our work is a concern to understand the similarities and differences arising from people’s intersecting identities, especially of gender, sexuality, ‘race’, social class, faith and age. In our rapidly changing global environment, there has never been a more important time to look at the world through a social lens and engage in theoretically driven research and teaching that makes a difference.

We do world leading research in a range of social and criminological issues at undergraduate and postgraduate levels but have particular strength in four key areas. Two of these overlap with the multi-disciplinary research centres that are housed within the Department:

The other two key areas are:

  • Higher Education and Social Inequality; and
  • Health and Social Theory

We teach programmes in the areas of sociology, criminology, social work, and social research methods.

Our postgraduate researchers are an integral part of our department and participate in – and often organise - our research seminars, away days, training sessions, and social events. Our research training is delivered as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognised NINE Doctoral Training Partnership.

The Professional Support Staff are a vital part of the Departmental team. They are as passionate as the academic staff about providing the support you need to ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable journey through your degree.

We have a strong commitment to close partnership working with the local community, along with links with voluntary and community sector organisations globally.  

Please do get in touch if you have any questions, comments or would like to join us.

Professor Catherine Donovan

Head of Department