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The School of Social Sciences is rated as one of the country’s leading modern universities for research. We have a vibrant and distinctive identity, rooted in our world class research on key contemporary social issues, our innovative and critical approach to knowledge in context, and community and civic engagement. 

Development Management
  • Top

    Our sociology was ranked top for research among modern universities in London (REF)

  • 94%

    'Overall satisfaction' rating among School of Social Science postgraduate students (PTES 2015)

  • 90%

    Of the School's case studies rated as world-leading and internationally excellent (REF)

Research centres and groups

Centre for East London Studies (CELS)

The Centre for East London Studies (CELS) aims to stimulate debates about the changing nature of East London, and its place in the world. We conduct research and consultancy on issues of urban regeneration, focusing on the economic, social and cultural development of East London and the Thames Gateway.
We aim to provide information, research and teaching resources that enable policy-makers, businesses and local communities to understand the processes and impacts of development and thereby help optimise regeneration outcomes.

CELS is also interested in more than just questions about the regeneration of East London and looks to promote the examination of broader social science questions concerning social integration, social justice and social change.

If you are interested in getting involved with the work of CELS or are commissioning research please contact: 

Centre for Narrative Research (CNR)

The Centre for Narrative Research (CNR) is the leading international centre for narrative work in the social sciences. CNR aims to generate and develop innovative narrative research of all kinds, and to bring narrative researchers from all over the world into productive dialogue.

CNR draws on narrative research from across the social sciences and beyond. It is founded in interdisciplinarity; it includes researchers from psychological, sociological, anthropological, cultural and media studies, humanities, arts and performance research traditions. The Centre supports research on spoken, written and visual narratives. It fosters collaborations between its members, associates and advisors, and provides a forum for researchers in applied and policy settings, as well as academics and graduate students.

The Centre is open to all kinds of narrative researchers, whatever their theoretical and methodological backgrounds. At the same time, CNR's work is distinguished, first, by its commitment to narrative complexity - to studying the contradictions, incoherences and omissions in narratives, as well as narrative sensemaking - and second, by its explorations of relationships between personal narratives and the social world.
Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB)

The Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging, based in the School of Social Sciences of the University of East London, is led by co-directors Prof. Nira Yuval-Davis and Prof. Gargi Bhattachyra..

It brings together the interdisciplinary work carried out within the School, in the related areas of migration and refugee studies; diasporas and social cohesion; racism, nationalism and political religions; as well as citizenship, identity and belonging.

CMRB also collaborates with individuals, academic institutions and organisations outside UEL on research, conferences and seminars, in order to build knowledge on these crucial issues and provide a space for debate and creative thinking.

Disciplinary and methodological approaches employed by CMRB members demonstrate an enriching heterogeneity, ranging from history to ethnography, narrative analysis to performance, anthropology to cultural studies, and sociology to film studies.

In addition, all research seeks to engage with political and policy debates as well as more abstract theoretical concerns, and aims to involve research participants in various stages of the research work and the dissemination of results.

CMRB benefits from its unique location at the heart of East London, an area which has seen some of the highest rates of international settlement in Europe – historically and in the present day. The Refugee Council Archive and other related collections held at the university, also enhance the potential of the centre to be at the cutting edge of its field of study.
Centre for Social Justice and Change (CSJC)

The Centre for Social Justice and Change (formerly CIS, Centre for Institutional Studies) is dedicated to undertaking high quality research which contributes to the development of theory and knowledge, and to the improvement of public policies both nationally and internationally.
Noon Centre

The Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity in Business, funded by Lord Noon (Kt. MBE) and supported by the Noon Foundation, is a transformational space for engaging and supporting students into industry networks, career development and self-employment. It is known for interdisciplinary research in workplace diversity. 

Anthropology and Contemporary Worlds Research Group

This research group led by UEL anthropologists includes colleagues across disciplines and from other universities. Our understandings of anthropological knowledge as embedded in the ‘everyday ’ and applicable to diverse settings set the pace for our research and knowledge exchange activities.

We are interested in contemporary questions of what it means to be human and interactions in community, socio-political and other contexts. What are the various ways of making sense of city-scapes ‘occupied’ by many nationalities who also share ‘common belonging?’ In what new forms can we examine violence, citizenship and justice? How do we revisit the notion of ‘failed states’? How do we re-examine the everyday through anthropological lens in the midst of uncertainties and change? How do we understand the cosmopolitan amidst cultural distinctiveness? These are a few of the questions which signal the interconnected settings of anthropology and contemporary worlds.

Feminist Research Group

The Feminist Research Group is an interdisciplinary research unit that promotes feminist activities and collaborative research at the University of East London.
Psychosocial Studies Research Group

The Psychosocial Studies Research Group places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity, drawing inspiration from both social sciences and the humanities, including psychoanalysis, sociology, psychology, cultural and media studies, critical theory and feminism.

Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies

Further information coming soon! 

Our research

We offer cutting edge, collaborative and supportive research environment. There is a close-knit and dynamic culture among our postgraduate students, and a strong undergraduate research culture underpinning all our courses.

Our School’s research is highly regarded and increasingly influential for research that is both innovative, ground-breaking and committed to social change. In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) Assessment Exercise in 2014. our Sociology submission was ranked top for research among modern universities in London, second among modern universities in the UK, and 23rd across the whole sector nationally. In all, 59 per cent of outputs were ranked world-leading (4*) and internationally-excellent (3*). Also, 53 per cent of our impact case studies were ranked world-leading (4*), positioning the School in the top ten Universities across the country in this category. 

Social Policy has also improved its standing; it was ranked third of the modern universities in London, and eighth nationally, with the majority of its publications scoring well. Impact was particularly successful, with 90 per cent of case studies being rated world-leading and internationally excellent (3* and 4*).

We’re proud of our success. The results on the impact of research are to be particularly celebrated, demonstrating the ways in which the research we undertake explores important current topics and intervenes to make a difference in society.

Research activity is a central feature of the School of Social Sciences as there is a close link between the reputation of the School and its commitment to excellence in research and teaching. The School’s research strategy is thus motivated by the desire to improve its national and international profile as a research active institution.

The School’s research strategy is to:

1.    Support a sustainable, vital and ethical research environment
2.    Build our international research profile
3.    Lead academic partnerships and interdisciplinary collaboration
4.    Produce high-quality, fully integrated, research and teaching
5.    Maximise impact, commercialisation and dissemination
6.    Develop each generation of researchers

This is in line with the university research vision and strategy; for further information please click here.

High quality research

UEL delivers high quality research that is impactful, socially relevant and for the public good.

You can read some of our impact case studies by clicking here to access a list of studies.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Sociology at UEL emerged as one of the main success stories from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) results. It was ranked top for research among modern universities in London, second among modern universities in the UK, and in a table of Sociology submissions (taken from the Times Higher Educational Supplement) we are ranked the 23rd best Sociology department in the country in terms of GPA (grade point average, an aggregate measure of output, environment and impact). 

In all, 59 per cent of outputs were ranked world-leading (4*) or internationally-excellent (3*). And 53 per cent of our impact case studies were ranked 4*.

The 2014 REF is a system for assessing the research done by the UK’s Higher Education Institutions. It replaces the Research Assessment Exercise, which was published in 2008. The REF 2014 results were released in mid-December by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Social Policy has also improved its standing. It was ranked third of the modern universities in London, and eighth nationally, with the majority of its publications scoring well. On Impact, 90 per cent were rated 3* and 4*.

Allaine Cerwonka, the Dean of the School of Social Sciences said she was very pleased with the results. She said: 'The School has done remarkably well, and better than it did in the RAE 2008. Both our research and our teaching (according to the NSS), puts UEL in the company of much older more established universities. So we’re very excited, but we’re not surprised, because it reflects the kind of innovative and ground-breaking research that is happening within the School.  

'Our positive scores in the Impact category demonstrates the way that our researchers in this School are exploring topics that are relevant and make a difference to society. The School plans to build on this solid foundation in our two most important areas - teaching and research. This is just the beginning of a very strong push forward to continue on the very positive trajectory that we are already on.'

Postgraduate research

The School has a growing number of PhD research students, ranging across the various areas of staff expertise. The School of Social Sciences encourages research degree applications from students from a variety of disciplines. We have always seen research students as an important and integral part of our research strategy and have staff who can supervise on dissertations over a vast array of subjects.

The School provides a range of seminar series, workshops and national and international conferences to reinforce the research culture and postgraduate training provision. You can find full details of the 2016/17 PhD training programme here.

The School’s PhD community publishes an annual yearbook, entitled ‘Crossing Conceptual Boundaries’. We are seeking to expand our doctoral programme, increasing the number of postgraduate students undertaking PhD studies. You can find past editions of this yearbook below:

Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 1
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 2
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 3
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 4
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 5
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 6
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 7
Crossing Conceptual Boundaries Yearbook 8