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Social Research (Social Policy) MA/ PGDip

Course Description

This programme is recognised by the ESRC as a research training programme designed to provide participants with a sound background on overall research design and the most up-to-date training in methods and data collection and analysis.

The core elements of this programme are delivered by staff from across the College of Social Sciences, many of them engaged in cutting-edge research in their own fields.

The MA programme includes assessed core modules and short courses (120 credits) and the completion of a 14,000 word dissertation (60 credits), while the Postgraduate Diploma includes the assessed courses only (120 credits).


Introduction to Social Research
This module aims to provide a general introduction to studying and research methods and prepares you for your dissertation, emphasising key skills such as searching literature, finding datasets and presenting and criticising arguments. It also covers ethics of research, the role of theory and philosophical bases for understanding the social world.

Research Design
This module links the introductory module and data collection module through consideration of research design, questions, warranting practices and sampling methods. All the elements of research design are linked into an over-arching theme of the full cycle of research activity.

Social Research Methods I
This module introduces the principles and practices of data collection and explores rationales of the various methods. It will focus on the different stages of data collection, including various methods used to gather textual and numerical data.

Social Research Methods II
This module introduces students to a range of approaches for analysing and handling data. It will include covering statistical methods for quantitative data and methodological approaches for qualitative data. It emphasises that the method of analysis is not determined by the method of collection.

British Social Policy - Beyond Welfare?
This module provides students with an understanding of recent trends in social policy development and of the current social and economic context of policy making in the UK. The question underpinning the module is 'Where is British Social Policy heading?'

Researching Social Policy
This module is concerned with the politics of social research, rather than research methods and methodology. It addresses issues such as: how are certain topics identified as subjects for research, how is research commissioned and funded, and what are the relationships between research and the policy process. It draws on real-life experiences of doing research and being researched to explore these issues.

The modules on Social Research Methods I and Social Research Methods II cover a wide range of approaches, including the 'qualitative' traditions, plus mixed methods.

Visit the Social Research (Social Policy) MA/ PGDip page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Olivia Vicol

Olivia's MA dissertation research was on the representation of Bulgarians and Romanians in the UK media prior to the lifting of restrictions to their access to the UK labour market in 2014. She aims to be an academic and is now studying for a DPhil at the University of Oxford in its Centre on Migration, Policy and Society.

Olivia is also a postgraduate mentor, you can contact her online with questions or read further about her experience at the University of Birmingham on her mentor page: http://www.pg.bham.ac.uk/mentor/olivia-vicol/


ESRC scholarships for PG Study and Doctoral Research - 14 Awards

The University of Birmingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre is one of 21 across the UK that has been accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It has been awarded 14 ESRC scholarships to fund postgraduate training and doctoral research starting in October 2012.Outstanding applicants will be considered for ESRC scholarships in the following pathways:Applied Linguistics
Russian and East European Studies
International Development (IDD)
West African Studies
German Studies
Business and Management
Economic and Social History
Economics and Econometrics
Urban and Regional Studies
Human Geography
Political Science and International Studies
European Studies
Local Government Studies and Public Policy
Sport and Exercise Science (Psy)
Social Policy
Social Work
Socio-Legal Studies

Value of Scholarship(s)



Please note that to be eligible for an ESRC award at the University of Birmingham you must have also submitted an application to study at the University.

Application Procedure

For further information, please visit http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/esrc

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good Honours degree or equivalent is normally required. This will usually be in a social science, although applications from those with degrees in other disciplines will be considered. Applications are also encouraged from those without an Honours degree who have five years or more relevant work experience in a policy or practice area.

Course Fees

Home and EU Students £6570; International Students £14,850

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