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Department and centres

The University of Essex is one of the UK's leading academic institutions and renowned for it's strength in the social sciences. Our Faculty comprises eight departments and centres that offer a vibrant and stimulating place to work and study.

  • Department of Economics: Deduction with a purpose

    Our Department of Economics is a world leader in developing the interplay between economic theory, data collection, economic measurement, identification and inference. Grounded in micro-foundations of human behaviour, the department produces research that has yielded consistently high performance in past Research Excellence Frameworks, ranking 5th in the UK for research excellence in 2014, along with strong international rankings.

    Its work is clustered into four broad areas of expertise:

    • Equilibrium Search and Macroeconomics
    • Decisions, Games and Networks
    • Labour, Household Behaviour and Applied Micro Data Analysis
    • Development, Migration and Trade

    Beyond these specific concentrations of work, the department has additional strengths in theoretical econometrics and experimental economics. These evolving clusters involve staff in sharing ideas and strategic approaches; generating innovative and creative thinking; and facilitating networks and collaboration with both academics and users, locally, nationally and internationally.

    The department’s research centres, the Essex Centre for Financial Econometrics (with the Business School), the UK Longitudinal Studies Centre (UKLSC) and the Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC), as well as the EssexLab experimental facility give Essex Economics a distinctive multidisciplinary aspect, involving active collaborations in epidemiology, sociology, demography and political science.

    Since the last Research Excellence Framework in 2008, the Department has published over 180 papers in most of the top journals in economics, raised over £20 million in research funding, and has had significant influence and impact on policy debates and practice.

    Alongside its excellent reputation in research, the Department provides a challenging and continuously updated educational offer across all levels of teaching. In the latest employability figures, 65.9% of UK undergraduates are in employment or further study. Two-thirds of the department’s PhD graduates since 2008 have obtained academic posts, with the remainder getting jobs in central banking and the private sector. The Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) at Essex, which is one of only 12 single institution DTCs and currently with 14 ESRC-funded students in Economics and 65 PhD students in total, indicates the depth and quality of its research training. At its very best the Department has provided a healthy scholarly environment that produced Nobel Prize winner Sir Christopher Pissarides, who received his BA (1970) and MA Degrees (1971) in Economics from Essex.

  • Department of Government: Compelling accounts of all things political

    Our Department of Government is one of the founding social science departments at Essex and the political science department in the UK for its research excellence (REF 2014).

    The Department is home to one of only two Regius Professorships in the social sciences, home of the British Journal of Political Science and the internationally renowned Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis. Rated top for its research in all Research Excellence Frameworks, the Department engages in cutting-edge approaches to political analysis, normative and critical political theory, political economy, international relations, conflict and cooperation, comparative politics, and voting behaviour and public opinion, as well as experimental and prediction-based research designs.

    It has been home to the prestigious British Election Study and has a long tradition in behavioural and quantitative approaches to the study of politics; a key feature that is fully integrated into the curriculum at all levels of education.

    Like the Department of Economics, it has also provided the kind of intellectual environment that produced Nobel Peace Prize Winner Oscar Arias from Costa Rica.

    The Department has long been committed to work that is both theoretically informed and methodologically rigorous. Known for its work in formal and quantitative political science, the Department also highly values qualitative and theoretical work faithful to the canons of logic and argumentation. Its 30 full-time continuing academic staff work across four divisions:

    • Political Behaviour
    • Comparative Political Economy
    • International Relations and Conflict Resolution
    • Political Theory

    Much of the work straddles those divisions, where there is a high level of intellectual exchange across the Department, even among members working in different substantive areas and in different intellectual traditions. There is a shared belief across the Department that good general theories should explain outcomes across different sub-fields and benefit from exposure to developments in and criticism from other traditions.

    Its degree programmes across undergraduate, masters and postgraduate research have an embedded commitment to the importance of research design, the use of evidence, and the application of appropriate methods and standards of argumentation.

    The Department has been a leader in the UK and Europe for making methods and quantitative analysis a central pillar to the way in which the field of politics is taught and studied.

  • Department of Language and Linguistics: Science and acquisition

    Our Department of Language and Linguistics has an international reputation for linguistic research reflecting both the variety of perspectives it adopts for the study of language (description of languages; first language acquisition; second language acquisition; language processing; language use; and language teaching) and the multiplicity of theoretical positions it takes (minimalist; constraint-based; cognitive; variationist). In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) the Department was ranked top 10 in the UK for research quality.

    The Department’s strategy is to foster a multi-faceted approach to linguistic enquiry by appointing excellent researchers with different theoretical orientations to work together in three research clusters:

    • Applied linguistics (covering second language acquisition/language teaching research)
    • Theoretical and descriptive linguistics
    • Psycholinguistics (covering first and second language acquisition and language processing).

    Each cluster is responsible not only for undertaking innovative research, but also for training new researchers through its doctoral programmes, with impressive results: 111 PhD students were supervised to successful completion during the assessment period.

    The Department is committed to exploiting synergies between different theoretical orientations to gain a better understanding of core linguistic phenomena; to engage non-academic populations in the development of its research (parents/carers in the investigation of child language acquisition, language teachers in the investigation of second language acquisition); and to undertake cross-institutional, multi-disciplinary projects on language description, language development, language processing and language variation.

    The Department’s strong research tradition is joined by a large and active Modern Languages section that teaches French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish, as well as a suite of degrees around English language teaching and a burgeoning programme in translation, interpreting and subtitling, which is supported by the construction of a new state of the art training lab. The Department’s educational philosophy is one which undergraduate courses in modern languages have a triple focus on developing language proficiency, cultural awareness and professional skills. Students can study up to four languages and courses are taught by native or bilingual speakers, where students are immersed in an authentic language-learning environment from the outset.

  • Department of Sociology: Studying the contours of justice

    From its inception, our Department of Sociology has enjoyed a strong international and national reputation, ranking top 10 in the UK for research quality in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).

    Its research encompasses many aspects of social life, many different theoretical and empirical approaches, and many different societies around the world. The Department has taken the view that Sociology is strengthened by close relations with cognate disciplines including anthropology, philosophy, social history, criminology and social psychology, and has welcomed staff with academic backgrounds in these disciplines. The Department was also a key actor in the establishment of the interdisciplinary Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies (CPS), and the School of Health and Human Sciences, which focuses on training health professionals –places where some of those contributing to the Sociology research assessments are now located.

    Together the department has generated a strong, productive and creative environment for sociological research that both maintains the core of the discipline and pushes at its boundaries.

    Research in the department and its cognate partners is characterised by diversity, interdisciplinarity and an emphasis on theoretically informed empirical research all of which provide the foundation for the strength of Sociology at Essex. Sociology has five broad research clusters:

    • Social Divisions and Economic Life (Social Divisions)
    • Public Policy, Welfare and Regulation (Public Policy) focusing particularly on welfare benefits and public policy, health and health policy, and crime and its regulation.
    • Identity, Subjectivity, and Culture (Identity and Culture)
    • Transnationalism, Nation and Rights (Transnationalism)
    • Sociological Foundations – Theory, Concepts and Methods (Theory and Methods)

    Beyond these research clusters, the Department is home to a number of inter-disciplinary research centres:

    Drawing on these wide ranging research traditions, the Department offers educational programmes at all levels that span the traditional core of sociology teaching as well as specialisms that include social anthropology, criminology, psycho-social studies, environmental governance, human rights, socio-legal research, and survey methods. Study in the department features student-led academic journals and a dedicated resource centre to support and enhance student learning.

  • Essex Business School: International culture and intelligent inquiry

    Essex Business School(EBS) was formed in 2008 by a merger between the Department of Accounting, Finance and Management in Colchester and the School of Entrepreneurship and Business in Southend. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) more than two-thirds of the Schools' research was rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. It teaches approximately 20% of all students at the University and comprises four groups:

    • Finance
    • Accounting
    • Marketing, Management and Organisation
    • Management Sciences

    From 2014 the first three groups in EBS will be housed in a new £21 million state-of-the-art building on the Colchester Campus. This will be the first carbon neutral building of its kind in Europe, and will provide the necessary space and facilities for the continued growth of EBS over the course of the next decade. The Management Sciences group will be moving into newly reconfigured space in the Gateway Building and will continue to take advantage of the £30 million Forum in Southend.

    Since the last Research Excellence Framework in 2008, EBS has published over 350 refereed articles with 160 in journals ranked 3 or 4 in the latest ABS guide to journal quality. The doctoral programme has grown to 116; with 48 students funded by academic or industry scholarships and the School has an excellent track record of co-authoring with, and finding employment for, PhD students. In late 2013, the school was part a successful bid to the ESRC for a new £6 million Data Research Centre for Smart Analytics, along with a newly established Essex Centre for Financial Econometrics (with the Department of Economics) and the Centre for Enterprise and Growth, which engages with business and is linked to the University’s Knowledge Gateway research park.

    An Advisory Group comprising senior industry figures supports the research, education and business engagement activities of the School. Research conducted in EBS embraces a plurality of social scientific approaches ranging from critical theory to financial econometrics. Its current research is currently arranged into three clusters.

    • The Accounting cluster makes important theoretical contributions in the subfields of management accounting, economic development and regulation, particularly within emerging economies. This cluster is also at the forefront of advancing global critical accounting and governance research with a particular emphasis on the role of auditors and tax avoidance.
    • The Finance cluster acts as a hub for empirical and theoretical research into behavioural finance, asset pricing, financial modelling and banking.
    • The Management cluster specialises in research on organisational aesthetics, sustainability, new venture creation, social enterprise, and critical social and feminist inquiry. It also includes research activity with an explicitly applied focus, generating external income through industry collaborations.

    The vision for the school over the next three to five years is ambitious:

    • A research-led top 25 business school in the UK by 2019
    • The business school of choice for excellent students from the UK and around the world, bringing together aspirational students, inspirational teachers and researchers and an international culture of intelligent inquiry
    • A business school which fully develops academic potential, employability skills and global and cultural insights for all students, ensuring they are equipped for successful careers
    • A magnet for business, public and third sector organisations, engaging with and inspiring Directors, Managers and Policy Makers
    • An international centre of excellence for SME growth
    • A leading partner with six renowned international business schools

  • Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies: The unconscious mind

    Our Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies is recognised internationally as one of the leading centres for work that focuses on the role of the unconscious mind in mental health, as well as in culture and society generally. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), the Centre was ranked top 10 in the UK for research quality.

    Students in the Centre come from a wide variety of professional and educational backgrounds. Many are working professionals who develop their careers or gain a better understanding of the subject in order to become better practitioners in areas such as refugee care, organisational dynamics, community, educational and social care, as well as psychotherapy.

    The Centre’s graduates take their expertise into practically every area of life, not just the psychotherapy professions and continued academic work, but also the worlds of the arts, business, education, journalism, philosophy, politics, religion, and social work - wherever there is need for deeper awareness about the experiencing person and the unconscious mind.

    The distinctive courses in the Centre provide a pluralistic and non-sectarian environment, in which various depth psychological models of the unconscious are critically examined (especially Freudian, Jungian, and British Object Relations). The Centre has a thriving international community of about 80 students researching for a PhD or Professional Doctorate and a large number of taught postgraduate students. The centre has long offered a foundational degree (with BA top up) in Therapeutic Care and Therapeutic Organisations (TCTO) will offer a BA in Therapeutic Care (from 2015) and will be the first in the world to offer psychoanalytic studies at the undergraduate level of study (from 2016). In addition the Centre offers experiential days and residential short courses on working with groups. The Centre has strong links with the local National Health Service, care services and professional institutions that allows students to keep up to date with current trends.

  • Institute for Social and Economic Research: Survey-driven knowledge of society

    The Institute for Social and Economic Research's world-class team of survey and research experts specialises in the production and analysis of longitudinal data – evidence which tracks changes in the lives of the same people over time.

    ISER enjoys an international profile for its cutting-edge socio-economic research. Its prestigious team of researchers has a wide range of expertise in social science disciplines, including economics, sociology, demography, geography and statistics. Using longitudinal studies such as the ISER-led British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society, our researchers also produce substantive research as the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-social Change focussing primarily on the life-course of the individual and the changing nature of society.

    ISER is also home to UK Longitudinal Studies Centre established by the Economic and Social Research Council in 1999 and is the national resource centre for promoting longitudinal research and for the design, management and support of longitudinal surveys. Its goal is to ensure the collection of longitudinal data of the highest quality to meet UK social research needs and to promote its widest and most effective use. The centre makes a major contribution to the UK’s unique portfolio of longitudinal studies and to the advances they help us make in advancing the social sciences and in understanding society.

    ISER also leads the prestigious EUROMOD project, the tax benefit micro simulation model for the European Union, providing resources for economists within ISER and across the world to study the impact of tax and benefit policy changes or proposals on household economic situations within individual European countries and in comparison with others.

    At any one time, the acclaimed international academic team is involved in a wide range of projects and its research makes a crucial contribution not just to the academic literature on these subjects, but to the decisions that are made by practitioners and policy makers around the world. ISER research really matters. Its work is used by academics and researchers, policy makers, other influential bodies, charitable organisations and journalists involved in ongoing debates about society.

  • UK Data Archive: Setting the global standard for data curation

    The UK Data Archive (UKDA) is curator of the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the United Kingdom. With several thousand datasets relating to society, both historical and contemporary, the Archive is a vital resource for researchers, teachers and learners.

    Social science research affects us all at every stage of our lives. Research findings influence government policies on childcare, education, wages, health, and pensions. For much of this research, social scientists depend upon resources that are quite different from those needed by other scientists. Whereas an astronomer needs a large telescope, a social scientist very often needs access to large collections of high quality data.

    Collecting data from surveys, questionnaires or interviews for one study is a painstaking process. Providing that accurate records have been kept, data that have been collected for one study can be analysed again for an entirely different piece of research. Recognising this need, in 1967 the Social Science Research Council supported the establishment of the Archive, and has provided the long-term commitment of funds, which has been vital for its success.

    The UKDA is an internationally acknowledged centre of expertise in the areas of acquiring, curating and providing access to data. Since 2005 it has been designated a Place of Deposit by the National Archives allowing us to curate public records. We acquire high quality data from the academic, public, and commercial sectors, providing continuous access to these data while we also support existing and emerging communities of data users.

    The UKDA manages the UK Data Service, the UK's flagship portal for research resources and host to key national and international survey data collections, international databanks, census data and qualitative data. The UK Data Service provides access to disclosive and more sensitive data through its secure data services. It is engaged in a number of data management and preservation initiatives, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the EU.

    Proudlyy engaged in research and development, and throughout its over 40 year history, the UKDA has remained at the cutting edge to become an international leader in curating and sharing data. It regularly wins grants from other funders, which enable us to continue these forward-looking activities. As a result, the Archive is well placed to take advantage of opportunities created by rapid technological change.

Further information about other departments and faculties within our University are also available.

News and events

News and events

Keep up-to-date with what's happening in our Faculty, from our latest research to our awards and achievements. We also organise a huge range of specialist workshops, conferences, training events and public lectures.

Your experience

Share your experience

If you graduated from one of our departments in the last ten years we would like your help to create truly engaging content for our website, including student profiles and case studies. You can help by completing your graduate profile online.

PG research

Postgraduate research

At Essex you will work at the heart of an internationally recognised and well-connected research community. Our internationally-renowned academics will support and guide you through the different stages of your research until completion.

New experimental lab

ESSEXLab, the new state-of-the-art facility for academic researchers to run interactive social science experiments, is now available. Registration is also open to take part in experiments.