The MSc in Social Research Methods has equipped me very well for both an applied research career and for academia. In that sense, it’s a great dual-purpose MSc, like one of those reversible travel tops. I found out about the MSc when a friend on the programme smuggled me into the Peacock Theatre one lunchtime, knowing I was getting bored of my career in NGO communications. After watching Jouni Kuha explain boxplots, I was hooked.
I was a returning student and at least a decade older than much of my cohort when I enrolled for the MSc. I also had not done maths since 5th form. But the attitude to quantitative beginners on the course was accepting and gentle, and the collegiality of the small department was strong. Crucially, there was a mutual respect across the methodological specialties amongst the faculty, and the MSc required students to study methods across the full ‘toolbox’ of methods – both quantitative and qualitative. After I completed the MSc, this proved very helpful in the job market, and I worked as a researcher at NatCen Social Research, evaluating government welfare programmes using both quantitative and qualitative methods.
I then started a PhD in the LSE Social Policy Department on ethnic enumeration methods from a critical race perspective, which I completed in three years because the MSc Social Research Methods makes you really good at designing research proposals that you can complete in three years.
I now live back in my home country of New Zealand, where I am an Associate Investigator with Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence focusing on complex systems and the intersection of STEM, society, and indigenous knowledge. I am also an applied researcher for the New Zealand thinktank The Workshop, which specialises in evidence-based methods of communication to support progressive social policy in the digital era. I currently serve on the council of the Population Association of New Zealand. My favourite plots are still boxplots.