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Course content

The field of Social Policy examines the definition, pattern and range of social problems in contemporary society and the various policy responses to them. It explores the role of the state in relation to the welfare and management of its citizens and the role of state intervention in determining the conditions under which people live. This programme is designed to provide students with grounding in social research as applied in social policy investigations.

Course Structure

Students take a range of taught modules primarily in the first two terms of the academic year. Starting in the first term, students undertake a module on research design which enables students to develop a research proposal for their dissertation.

Core Modules

Typical modules outlined below are those that were available to students studying this programme in previous years.

-Perspectives on Social Research (15 credits)
-Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits)
-Research Design and Process (15 credits)
-Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
-Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
-Social Policy and Society (30 credits)
-Policy Related and Evaluation Research (15 credits)
-Dissertation (60 credits)

Academic learning is assessed through a range of summative essays, statistical/computer-based projects, research proposals, and a dissertation.

Learning and Teaching

These MA Research Methods programmes are full time, starting in early October and continuing over 12 months following university terms.

The main teaching methods include lectures, seminars, and computer practical sessions. Lectures introduce the key concepts, theories, current debates and other issues critical for understanding the topics. Seminars are opportunities for students to discuss any questions arising from the readings, to share experience of conducting research, to present their own work for comments. Modules that teach the use of computer software packages have practical sessions in computer rooms so that students can carry out hands-on exercises under supervision and further assistance

Modules are usually assessed through essays. Statistics modules may require students to complete specific analyses with more structured instructions. Some module conveners may allow students to submit formative assignments in order for students to obtain a sense of how well they understand the subject. Some modules’ assessment may contain a proportion of presentations and group projects.

Further academic supports are available. Students have the opportunities to learn from their dissertation supervisors at individual tutoring meetings, dissertation workshops, and forums. Every member of teaching staff has two hours of office hours each week, when students can come without having to make an appointment beforehand. Both the University and the School organize seminars by external speakers that are open to all students.

Students will have access to a variety of learning resources, including learning spaces in libraries and teaching rooms, readings and textbooks, computers, databases, etc

Visit the Social Research Methods (Social Policy) (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!





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