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MSc Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare)

Course Content

Course content

Social research methods are a means of providing evidence to examine ideas about society - they are a way of 'knowing'. This course seeks to introduce you to a portfolio of research skills that will help you not only to become a competent researcher but also to expand your employment horizons.

Why study Social Research Methods at Dundee?

Social research methods are important not just to social scientists wishing to study a particular problem or to test a theory in a way that is be considered rigorous. They are also fundamental tools of value to government, service providers and to business. There are of course a diverse range of research methods available to social scientists.

The aims of the MSc/Diploma programme in Social Research Methods are:
To advance your knowledge and understanding of the nature of research in social science.
To enhance your skills in areas that will equip you as a social scientist for employment in a government, business or a public policy environment as well as in an academic context.

"I undertook the Social Research Methods MSc in 2009/2010. This was a really interesting course which not only helped me develop a range of research skills which have been extremely relevant and useful in my PhD, but also helped me to critically engage with broader issues of social justice. This sparked an interest in my current research field, and ultimately, has been invaluable in giving me a solid foundation for continuing onto an academic career. Beyond the academic knowledge however, this MSc also provides a useful set of practical and applicable skills which many employers value, such as in GIS and statistics"
Andrew Wooff, studied full-time 2009-10

Researcher, Centre for Criminological Research, University of Sheffield

Specialism in population and welfare

The MSc in Social Research Methods offers a specialism in population and welfare issues under the title MSc Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare). This option is an accredited course for the ESRC Population Investigation Council funding. This specialism is particularly relevant for students interested in demographic and welfare issues.

What's so good about Social Research Methods at Dundee?

The staff teaching the MSc in Social Research Methods course have wide experience of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and have deployed these skills not only to pursue frontline research in social science, but also as expert advisers to governments and as consultants to international organisations.

This course emphasises that it is important not only to understand how to use a particular research tool, but also to consider the wider meanings of how knowledge can be constructed in different ways and for diverse range of purposes. One particular feature of the course is the comprehensive and in-depth coverage of a variety of research methods including ethnographic and participatory tools; the analysis of large datasets plus GIS skills. The course seeks to encourage students to think critically not only about the methods they use, but also to reflect on the limitations of what is knowable from the evidence presented by others.

"As a part time student on the MSc Social Research Methods course, my experience was exceptionally inspiring. Coming from an arts background it was a real challenge, but one that allowed me to broaden my horizons and bring back to my day job teaching design in an art college an understanding of human geography and how it informs us of local and global social issues. My experience was invaluable in so many ways and staff were always very supportive"

Jackie Malcolm, studied part-time 2010-12
Lecturer in Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee

The start date is September each year, and lasts for 12 months.

How you will be taught

There are core modules in:

Research Training
Social Theory
Quantitative Methods in Social Research
Qualitative Methods in Social Research
Plus students choose one from:

Research in Practice (work placement)
Applied GIS and Geospatial Data Analysis
Population Vulnerability and Resilience

For students following the MSc Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare) route, ‘Social Impacts on Population’ is a core module, and ‘Qualitative Methods in Social Research’ is an option module.

Students enrolled on the MSc programme also complete a dissertation.

How you will be assessed

The course is assessed by coursework (essays, practical classes, projects), examination and dissertation (for Masters students).


The course seeks to offer students a wide range of skills suitable for entry into careers as information officers and analysts, research assistants and geographical system experts working in a business or government environment.

Research by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) shows that the demand for Social Science Masters students with quantitative research skills far outstrips supply. This degree programme course has strong emphasis in this area, but the optional modules allow you to tailor the course to your personal career ambitions.

Previous students from our other MSc programmes have gone on to work for local authority planning departments, the General Registrars Office Scotland (census office), GIS analysts for Tayside Police, ONS social analysis unit, and also as research assistants within the University sector.

"The course allowed me to develop on an academic and personal level through its range of critical thinking and skill based modules. I appreciated the broad themes set out by lecturers as it provided an opportunity to integrate my own research interests into class assignments and discussions, enhancing the individual relevancy it had for my classmates and I. Since completing the course in September 2012, I have started working towards a PhD in the Geography department at Dundee, incorporating many of the attributes that I learned at MSc level. The training, support and enthusiasm offered on the course gave me the confidence to undertake fieldwork overseas and inspired me to pursue a future career in academia"

Jade Catterson, studied full-time 2011-12
ESRC-funded PhD student, University of Dundee

Visit the MSc Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare) page on the University of Dundee website for more details!




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