Key Facts

Course Title: MRes Social Science Research Methods
Course type: MRes, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Christine Pointon
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Social Science and Public Policy


This recently re-structured MRes in Social Science Research Methods prepares students for a research-related career by providing a structured programme of training in a range of research skills and methodologies, to enable students to approach a research project in a systematic and professional way.

Increasingly, students wishing to take doctoral programmes are required first to undertake a year’s research training (or equivalent), and this MRes programme will provide that preparation required to successfully complete a PhD in the normal period of three years. Until the 1990s, postgraduate research was focused exclusively on the production of an original doctoral thesis. It is now seen as part of a much broader programme of research training. While the doctoral thesis remains central and is unique for the viva voce examination, issues of research design, research methods for gathering evidence, and procedures for data analysis relevant to the student’s own academic discipline are now also included as part of the explicit research training process.

They may also comprise a separate and independent course of study to Masters Level, such as this MRes programme, which is now running in its new format from the academic year 2013/14. The programme offers pathways in the subject areas of: Criminology, Education, Gerontology, Health Policy, Management, Social Work, and Sociology.

Aims of the Course

The general aims of the programme are as follows:

  • To equip participants with a ‘toolkit’ for research design, consisting of a range of social science research methods and strategies
  • To explore in detail the philosophical assumptions underlying contemporary research in the social sciences
  • To develop the qualities needed to evaluate critically social science research
  • To provide practice in a range of transferable skills, improve existing skills and enhance employability, whether in an academic context or beyond
  • To apply more general methods and philosophies to the student’s own discipline and to gain an in-depth understanding of the current issues related to that discipline

Entry Requirements

Applicants should be graduates normally with a good honours degree (2.1 or above) in a relevant social science subject. However, students from different backgrounds who believe they have the capacity to undertake postgraduate work in the social sciences should contact us to discuss their situation.

Students for whom English is a second language will need English language proficiency of at least 6.5 in IELTS text scores (or equivalent).

Course Content

A Masters’ degree is 180 credits, made up of taught modules up to 120 credits plus a dissertation of 60 credits. The dissertation is the final assessment on the programme that brings together the student’s modular learning in development and implementation of a significant piece of research, the focus of which is determined by the student, who will receive support and guidance from their supervisor.

Those taking taught modules only may qualify for a Postgraduate Award (30 credits), Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) or a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits).  The re-structured MRes Social Science Research Methods comprises of the following compulsory modules:

Research Skills and Researcher Development (30 credits)

Principles of Social Science Research (30 credits)

Quantitative Research and Data Analysis (15 credits)

Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits)

Subject-Specific Training I (15 credits)

Dissertation (60 credits)

You will also choose one 15 credit optional module from the list of optional modules below, currently:

Subject-Specific Training II (15 credits)

Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis (15 credits)

Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits)

Ethnographic Research (15 credits)

Teaching and Assessment

The programme is assessed through a broad range of methods of assessment, including: portfolio, essay, research proposal, review, report, exam, learning plan, pilot study and dissertation.  These enable assessment of the student’s analytical abilities, and of the student’s evaluation of particular debates, material and evidence.  The research proposal, the review, the pilot study and the dissertation facilitate assessment of the student’s ability to select, apply and evaluate appropriate research methodologies in their chosen field of studies.  The written assignments vary in length from 1,500 word reports through to 5,000 word personal development portfolios.  Students must pass all the taught modules before they may proceed to the dissertation, which involves writing a dissertation of 15-20,000 words.

Additional Costs

Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this post-graduate programme.