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MSc Social Research Methods

Central to the Department's activities is the MSc Social Research Methods which offers specialist options in one of the following: Social Policy, Social Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, Philosophy, Development Studies, Government, Management, Population, and Decision and Policy Sciences. The MSc programme gives students the opportunity to develop sophistication in research design and quantitative and qualitative research while maintaining a focus in a social scientific discipline.

This programme draw on the range of expertise available within the Institute, as well as related academic departments, in order to provide an advanced training in social research methodologies, combined with a focus on one of a number of special areas in the social science.

The syllabus for the MSc goes someway beyond the ESRC's requirements for the first year of a 1+3 PhD programme, and it is designed as a training for doctoral research and as a pre-professional training for careers in social research in the public and private sectors.

The MSc may be taken full-time over a calendar year, or part-time over two years.

Aims and objectives

The MSc aims to provide:

  • the skills of 'practical scholarship' built on a thorough grounding in the principles of quantitative and qualitative social research
  • a specialist training in one of the social sciences
  • an advanced training in both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
  • experience in the design, collection, analysis and reporting of empirical social research
  • experience of computer analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data
  • training as a precursor to doctoral research and/or for employment in social research in the public and private sectors.

The programme outcomes are:

  • understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
  • understanding of conceptual and methodological questions underlying quantitative and qualitative research
  • ability to design, conduct, analyse and report a social research project


'The MSc is clearly the UK market leading social research methods degree. This is true both in terms of the quality of the teaching but also in terms of the quality of the students choosing to read for it. Methodology Department students know how to do empirical research and this puts them in a different league from students graduating from other programmes in the UK.''
From the 2013 Report of the External Examiner: Professor Colin Mills, Professor of Sociology, Nuffield College, Oxford.