Social Science Research Methods - MRes
- Mode of study
- Full time, Part time
- Entry months
- Duration of Study
- One year full time, two years part time, modular degree (maximum period of 5 years), CPD
- Subject Area
- Social Science and Public Policy
- FEES (2022/23 academic year)
- UK - FT £8,400, PT £4,600
- International - £16,800
The MRes Social Science Research Methods is designed to provide a thorough grounding in a range of research skills and methodologies essential to the systematic research practice demanded in many professional environments, or to pave the way to doctoral study in social science disciplines.
About the course
Social research enables us to generate knowledge about the social world, including insights into personal experiences, public opinion, and patterns of collective behaviour that might otherwise remain hidden. It is an essential tool in supporting policy makers to recognise and understand social issues and reach decisions about the design and implementation of appropriate responses. On this course you will learn how to plan, conduct and manage social research projects, and develop theoretical models to inform responses to real world social issues.
The taught indicative modules on the programme offer advanced instruction in a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and methodologies and introduce you to the tools used in the management and analysis of data. Your studies culminate in an original piece of applied research supported by a supervisor in your discipline.
Who is it for?
The programme is suitable for those considering doctoral (PhD) study in a social science discipline or who are looking to work in the public, private or third sectors, for example, social or market research; social and health care; local and national government; or charitable and community organisations. It would be equally valuable to people already working in these sectors who wish to update or develop their social research skills.
The programme is recognised as fulfilling the requirements of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) postgraduate social science research training and development and as the first year of 1+3 awards made by the ESRC North West Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership.
Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the School of Social, Political and Global Studies in the first instance to discuss their application.
A central feature of the programme is its flexible structure. Full-time (12 month) and part-time (24 month) routes are available. Modules can also be accessed individually for continuing professional development (CPD), or as part of a modular route where credits can be accumulated over a period of up to 5 years to qualify for a named award.
Application links for the CPD study routes are available here.
A full Masters’ degree is 180 credits, made up of 120 credits of taught modules (either 15 or 30 credits each) plus a 60-credit dissertation. The dissertation is the final assessment on the programme and brings together the modular learning in the development and implementation of a significant piece of research.
Core Taught Modules
The programme comprises of the following core modules:
GRT-40023: Approaches to Research Design and Process (15 credits)
This module explores the differences between types of research design and the consequences of these designs for the development of a methodology. The module also introduces the different strategies for gathering evidence in the social sciences, including documentary research, interviews and focus groups, ethnography, and surveys.
GRT-40028: Researcher Skills (15 credits)
This module aims to deliver a comprehensive introduction to the qualities of effective research practice in the social sciences, through reflective engagement with the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. It focuses on the notion of research as a craft and aims to provide tools with which you can develop your researcher skills in a reflective way.
SOC-40014: Philosophies of Social Science Research (15 credits)
This module provides you with a thorough introduction to the philosophical roots of social research and debates around methodology and methodological approaches to research. You are encouraged to understand your own research in terms of what has gone before and how your own approach might fit into a particular research tradition.
ETH-40051: Ethics in Research (15 credits)
This module aims to provide a critical understanding of key ethical issues in research across academic and professional disciplines in humanities, science, social science and health. The focus of the module is on ethical analysis of such issues rather than on specific regulatory and governance processes.
GRT-40026: Using Theory in Social Science Research (15 credits)
This module critically unpacks the relationship between methodology and theory and provides the tools for you to gain the confidence to apply theory to your research. In doing so, the module will consider the differences between grand theory and general theory and teach you how to identify what theory/ies to employ in your research in order to build a critical account of the field of study.
GRT-40020: Quantitative Research and Data Analysis (15 credits)
On this module we explore the opportunities offered by a quantitative approach to social research, develop familiarity with the theoretical underpinnings of quantitative social research, and gain practical data analysis skills using SPSS software. Practical work will include questionnaire design, data analysis and the writing of a quantitative research design.
GRT-40021: Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits)
This module provides an overview of the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of different approaches to qualitative research. It examines how qualitative methodologies inform research design and explores the development of associated methods of investigations, such as interviewing, observation, and visual research. Students will also be introduced to NVivo software used by qualitative researchers in the management and analysis of qualitative data.
You will also choose one 15 credit elective module from the following:
GRT-40016: Independent Subject-Specific Research (15 credits)
This module is for full-time students who wish to pursue advanced quantitative research and data analysis. The module is supported by a supervisor who will help you think through the different statistical approaches to data analysis.
GRT-40018: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits)
This module offer advanced instruction on the development of qualitative research designs, in the identification of appropriate fieldwork tools, and in analysing qualitative data. The module also offers advanced IT training in NVivo, software used in the management and analyses of qualitative data.
GRT-40019: Ethnographic Research (15 credits)
Today ethnography is used in all social science fields, and this module will be invaluable for gaining a greater understanding of the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of ethnographic research, as well as gaining practical experience of conducting observational work.
HLT-40002: Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis (15 credits)
This is for students on the part-time or modular route through the programme who wish to pursue advanced training in quantitative methods. This module covers advanced analytic methods, such as extensions of the regression model and analysis of variance. It also provides an introduction to multivariate data reduction techniques such as factor analysis, and some specialist techniques (e.g. structural equation modelling). The material is predominately taught using SPSS, and although the module encourages a sound understanding of statistical principles, the primary emphasis is on practical data analysis.
The dissertation (60 credits) is the final assessment on the programme that brings together the student’s modular learning in the 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.
How the course is taught
Each module is 15 hours of contact time taught in 5 week blocks across the Autumn and Spring semesters (October-December and January-May). The Summer semester (June-September) is dedicated to completing your independent research project.
Course content is delivered via a range of learning activities, including live interactive lectures, group work, student-led discussion, and one-to-one supervision. Learning is supported by online materials. Each module is accompanied by independent study hours where students are required to undertake independent reading to consolidate their learning and to broaden individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.
How you'll be assessed
The programme is assessed by a range of methods, including: portfolio, essay, research proposal, report, and exam. These enable assessment of your analytical abilities, and of your ability to evaluate particular debates, material, and evidence.
Students must pass all the taught modules before they can proceed to the dissertation. This is the final assessment on the programme and brings together your modular learning in the development and implementation of a significant piece of original research guided by your supervisor.
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).
Keele University is located on a beautiful campus and has all the facilities of a small town. Student accommodation, shops, restaurants and cafes are all within walking distance of the teaching buildings. This is a very cost effective way to live and to reduce your living costs.
Scholarships and Funding
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries webpage for more information.
The MRes Social Science Research Methods is a recognised route on the 1+3 awards made by the ESRC North West Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP). Candidates may apply for funding towards master’s and doctoral (1+3/2+2) study, or doctoral study only (+3/+2). The NWSSDTP does not fund standalone master’s programmes.
Applications should be made via one of the following pathways:
- Criminology, Social Policy and Social Work
- Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine
- Socio-legal Studies
Those interested in applying for 1+3 funding via the NWSSDTP, should contact the ESRC DTP Institutional Lead, Professor Yossi Nehushtan, to discuss their subject pathway and supervision requirements.
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in this case, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
The MRes in Social Science Research Methods is taught by an international faculty with a wide range of expertise in social science research theories and methodologies. We offer academic expertise in a variety of social science disciplines including sociology, criminology, education, and human geography. Prospective students are invited to review supervisory specialisms on the subject web pages before contacting us to discuss their application.