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Study for a PhD


We warmly welcome students to study for a PhD here at the Centre for Science Studies. Our PhD students are supported as part of the Department of Sociology.

The possibilities and how it works are detailed in our Frequently Asked Questions below and in the Sociology PhD pages.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why the Centre for Science Studies?
  2. What areas do we work in?
  3. How do I apply to do a PhD?

1. Why the Centre for Science Studies?

The quick answer is that Lancaster University's Centre for Science Studies is a centre of excellence in Science and Technology Studies (STS), part of the country's top-rated research departments. We've got senior writers and thinkers in the discipline here: Maureen McNeil, Maggie Mort, Lucy Suchman, Brian Wynne. And younger staff who are at the cutting end of new developments, such as Paolo Palladino, Celia Roberts, Vicky Singleton and Claire Waterton. We have a large research school working on everything from science, technology and medicine, through ICTs, to feminist STS, actor-network theory, postcolonial STS, and the cultural study of science and technology.

This means that if you want to work in STS we offer a world-class context for your research. More generally, Lancaster is a first rate and interdisciplinary social science university. And the Centre is part of an international network with links, visits and exchanges with other outstanding STS Centres in the US (UCSF), Australia (HPS, Melbourne), Denmark (Aarhus), France (Paris CSI), the Netherlands (Philosophy, Twente) and Norway (TIK, Oslo).

2. What areas do we work in?

The answer is that we specialise in a range of the most important STS areas. Empirically, we work on...

  • Computing, design and IT (Lucy Suchman)
  • Large scale technologies and organisations, and their disasters (Maggie Mort)
  • Health Technologies and Medicine (Vicky Singleton, Maggie Mort, Paolo Palladino, Celia Roberts)
  • Construction and energy (Elizabeth Shove)
  • Military technologies (Maureen McNeil, Maggie Mort)
  • Science policy system (Elizabeth Shove)
  • Environment (Claire Waterton, Brian Wynne)
  • New reproductive technologies (Celia Roberts)
  • Discourse (Greg Myers)
  • Understanding of science by scientists and the public (Claire Waterton, Brian Wynne).

In terms of theory we're a world-class centre for many of the most exciting new developments in STS. These include...

  • Cultural studies of science
  • Feminist technoscience
  • Actor-network theory
  • Spatiality of STS
  • Post-structuralist theory
  • Risk and the public understanding of science
  • Postcolonial theory
  • Discourse analysis

See our people pages and online publications for more information on who specialises in which areas.

Lancaster is a major research university in social science - one of the best in Britain. And Science Studies, with its network of links with social science and humanities departments, draws on and contributes to a vibrant research-oriented intellectual environment.

3. How do I apply to do a PhD?

Firstly, find out about us and our work...

  • Talk to us in person. You are always welcome to come to Lancaster, and a personal visit is best - though not compulsory. Email your potential supervisor or email the PhD Co-ordinator to arrange a visit. This gives you a chance to talk not only to staff but also students.
  • Explore this website, the staff home pages and publications.
  • When you have a proposal that a member of staff has indicated they are willing to supervise, then complete a formal application via the University's on line process.

Next firm up your research plans. There's no need to have these set in concrete. Indeed, it's probably best if they're not entirely fixed, since almost all of the best research grows and evolves. But you need some idea of your interests and how they might be developed. And you also need to have a supervisor you want to work with - someone who'll help you and work with you once you arrive.

Then think about financing your PhD. There are a number of opportunities, and we will do our best to help...

  • Some students come with grants, either from British funding bodies (such as ESRC) or from overseas governments.
  • Lancaster offers Postgraduate Bursaries on a competitive basis.
  • Some students obtain a secondment from employers.
  • Remember that it is possible to do PhDs on a part-time basis, and quite a lot of students work in this way.

Finally, you'll need to make a formal application. There are downloadable forms and more information from the Postgraduate Admissions Office. Note that if you are not a native English speaker you will need, in due course, to produce evidence of your ability to work in English.

We will process the application as quickly as possible. Obviously we can't guarantee that you'll be accepted, but if you've got the right academic qualifications and language skills, and you've applied after talking with and securing the interest of a staff member at the Centre for Science Studies, your chances are good.

We look forward to welcoming you!


Postgraduate Admissions
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University

Telephone: +44 (0)1524 510880
Fax: +44 (0)1524 510857
E-mail: fass-pg-admissions@lancaster.ac.uk

Other useful contacts

Cat Prill- PG Coordinator
Celia Roberts - Doctoral Director

PhD student research profiles

Some of the students based in CSS have written research profiles


View profiles for students based in the Department of Sociology/

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