Social Sciences: Social Statistics & Demography

MPhil/PhD by Research in Social Statistics and Demography

We have a lively and active group of about 30 research students and pride ourselves on our success rate, with most students completing their PhDs in around three years. We achieve this by providing effective supervision, access to a wide range of graduate courses to fine-tune your skills, and a stimulating research environment.

We have three main areas of research expertise and our research students are concentrated in these areas. We see this as essential to providing effective supervision.

1. Demography and living standards
Southampton has one of the largest groups of demography research students in the UK and recent staff appointments have widened our supervision capacity into several related areas: the analysis of poverty and social exclusion, labour markets and education.

Research topics are diverse, involving the analysis of large datasets and in-depth qualitative research. Topics include:

  • contraceptive use dynamics in Indonesia, Tanzania, Zambia and Estonia
  • breastfeeding in Brazil
  • fertility decline in Mongolia
  • cohabitation and family formation in the UK
  • family planning provision in the UK
  • historical demography in north west Wales

2. Sample survey theory and methods
We are one of the leading centres in the world for developing survey sampling methods. Our partnership with the UK Office for National Statistics to improve survey methodology in British government statistics provides a unique and exciting opportunity for research students.

Research includes:

  • the design of complex surveys
  • utilising auxiliary information in sample survey estimation
  • the effects of survey design on statistical analysis
  • the analysis of response errors in the Labour Force Survey

3. Statistical modelling
Our work focuses on multilevel modelling, controlling for missing data, exact tests for categorical data, disclosure issues and event history analysis.

Topics include:

  • multilevel models for small area estimation
  • exact tests for sparse contingency tables
  • graphical chain modelling of market research data
  • Gibbs sampling for event history analysis
  • non-ignorable non-response models for categorical survey data


To apply, please complete the online application form.

The normal minimum entry requirement for research students for the MPhil/PhD is a masters degree in a relevant subject, or an equivalent qualification.

However, applications are considered individually, and our decision to offer you a place will depend on the precise nature and level of your academic qualifications and other experience, and on our ability to supervise the proposed topic of your research.

PhD proposals
If you are applying for an MPhil/PhD degree, please enclose a short statement (1,000–2,000 words) describing your proposed area of research. This helps us to ensure that your research interests match well with those of a member of our Division. Before you submit your application, you may find it useful to discuss your proposal with a member of staff with research expertise in your area.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
If you have taken the GRE please provide details of your scores under section 6 of the application form as this will facilitate the processing of your application.

Key facts
  • Intake: around seven new PhD students each year

  • Excellent facilities for full-time students: own networked workstation and a dedicated computer lab equipped with the latest statistical software.

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