L3KB07 Social Research Methods (Social Policy) MA Postgraduate Taught 2020
The field of Social Policy examines the definition, pattern and range of social problems in contemporary society and the various policy responses to them. It explores the role of the state in relation to the welfare and management of its citizens and the role of state intervention in determining the conditions under which people live. This course is designed to provide you with a grounding in social research as applied in social policy investigations.
You will take a range of taught modules primarily in the first two terms of the academic year. Starting in the first term, you will undertake a module on research design which will enable you to develop a research proposal for your dissertation.
In previous years, typical modules offered were:
Perspectives on Social Research (15 credits)
- Introduction to social scientific research
- Establishing cause and interpreting meaning in social sciences
- Essentials of quantitative and qualitative research in the social sciences.
Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits)
- Spreadsheets and data analysis
- Populations, sample data and sampling distributions
- Point estimates and confidence intervals
- Significance tests, cress-tabulations, and Chi-Square tests
- Correlation and linear regression.
Research Design and Process (15 credits)
- Formulating research questions
- Evaluating and developing a research proposal
- Reviewing relevant literature
- Experimental vs. observational studies
- Sampling and selecting respondents
Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
- Introduction to theory and research practice in qualitative methods
- Ethnography and grounded theory
- Group discussions
- Data analysis and management processes.
Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
- Numerical taxonomy and cluster analysis in practice
- Methods for representing complex systems including qualitative comparative analysis and social network analysis.
Social Policy and Society (30 credits)
- Spanning two terms, this module covers theory and concepts in the first term, and applications of concepts in the second term
- Critical perspectives in Marxism, feminism, anti-racism, and environmentalism
- Social control, regulations and resistance
- Citizenship and community
- Applications in healthcare, education, social security, housing, crime, justice and punishment.
Policy Related and Evaluation Research (15 credits)
- Relationship between theory and empirical research in evaluation
- Defining and measuring outcomes
- Case study analysis
- Poster presentation and participatory evaluation.
Dissertation (60 credits)
- 15,000 word dissertation based on a supervised research project.
Academic learning is assessed through a range of summative essays, statistical/computer-based projects, research proposals, and a dissertation.
Course Learning and Teaching
These MA Research Methods courses are full-time, starting in early October and continuing over 12 months following university terms.
The main teaching methods include lectures, seminars, and computer practical sessions. Lectures introduce the key concepts, theories, current debates and other issues critical for understanding the topics. Seminars are opportunities for you to discuss any questions arising from the readings, to share experience of conducting research and to present your own work for comments. Modules that teach the use of computer software packages have practical sessions in computer rooms so that you can carry out hands-on exercises under supervision and further assistance.
Modules are usually assessed through coursework. Statistics modules may require you to complete specific analyses with more structured instructions. Some module conveners may allow you to submit formative assignments in order for you to obtain a sense of how well you understand the subject. Some modules’ assessment may contain a proportion of presentations and group projects.
Further academic support is available. You will have the opportunity to learn from your dissertation supervisors at individual tutoring meetings, dissertation workshops, and forums. Every member of teaching staff has two hours of office hours each week where you can access additional support for your modules, assignments and so forth. In addition, both the University and the School host seminars for external speakers that are open to all students.
Subject requirements, level and grade
Normally an upper second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.
However, applications from candidates with a 2.2 degree (or below) who have approved professional qualifications, for example in Social Work, together with experience, will be actively considered for admission.
When submitting your online application, you will also need to provide:
- Current Transcript and Certificate (if possible)
- 2 academic references (it is the applicants responsibility to obtain their references from their referees)
English Language requirements
Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.
How to apply
Fees and Funding
Full Time Fees
|EU Student||£8,200.00 per year|
|Home Student||£8,200.00 per year|
|Island Student||£8,200.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£20,150.00 per year|
Part Time Fees
|EU Student||£4,600.00 per year|
The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Open days and visits
Pre-application open day
Overseas Visit Schedule
Postgraduate VisitsPGVI or
Department of Sociology
The Department of Sociology is an interdisciplinary department with over 50 years’ experience in teaching and research in sociology and social policy, expanding over time to provide a focus for collaboration across the related academic disciplines of criminology, social work, and community development. We are a leading international centre of excellence in interdisciplinary applied social research that shapes and informs social policy and practice, enhances individual, community and social wellbeing, promotes social inclusion, and forms the foundations of research-led education.