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This programme provides practical, career-orientated training in social science research methods, including research design, data collection and data analysis relating to both qualitative and quantitative modes of inquiry.

Students will have the opportunity to specialise in particular methodologies and to learn more about the application of these methodologies to illuminate important issues and debates in contemporary society.

Course Structure

The programme is designed to provide a fundamental grounding in both quantitative and qualitative research skills, along with the opportunity to specialise in more advanced training in quantitative research, qualitative research or in practical applications of research techniques.

Core Modules:

Semester 1

  • Approaches to Social Research (20 CATS)
  • Theory and Debates in Social Research (20 CATS)
  • The Sources and Construction of Qualitative Data (10 CATS)
  • The Sources and Construction of Quantitative Data (10 CATS)

Semester 2 

  • Qualitative Data Analysis (10 CATS)
  • Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational (10 CATS)
  • Quantitative Data Analysis: Intermediate (10 CATS)
  • Dissertation (60 CATS) (MRes students only)

Optional Modules (all 10 CATS)

We offer a range of advanced modules in quantitative and qualitative research methods, for example, logistic regression and internet-based research. We also provide specialist modules which reflect the teaching team’s diverse research interests, from the social logic of emotional life to conflict and change in divided societies. Optional modules generally run during the Spring semester and are offered subject to sufficient student demand and staff availability. Students will be able to choose a maximum of three to four option modules (depending on whether they are required to complete Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational). Please note that it is unlikely that all the following modules will be available for 2019/20. Please check with the Programme Director for queries about specific modules.

  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods 
  • Social Science Research Online 
  • Advanced Quantitative Research Methods 
  • Conflict and Change in Northern Ireland: New Sociological Research 
  • Researching Emotions and Social Life 
  • University Research and Civil Society Organisations

Learning and Teaching

The modules are delivered via a mixture of traditional lecture, seminar, workshops and computer lab class. Students are also expected to undertake independent study.


An overall mark of 50 per cent is required to pass each module.

Modules have a broad range of summative assessment, from traditional essay through to short research reports involving original analysis of data. Some modules also offer the valuable opportunity for formative assessment, i.e., for feedback on their work which does not contribute towards the final module mark.

Career Prospects


Research skills are highly transferable and marketable, and needed across a range of sectors – academic, government, charities and business. MRes students receive advanced training in both quantitative and qualitative research skills and gain experience of independent project management through the dissertation. Graduates can use their qualification to develop a career in any aspect of social research. The MRes is also ideal high-level preparation for doctoral research (PhD).

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Employment after the Course

After graduation, students are well placed to continue on to doctoral research, applying their research skills to carry out an in depth investigation of a particular topic. Past graduates have secured funded PhDs on a variety of topics, from cyber surveillance to educational inequality. Some students have moved into careers in social research or used their qualification to upskill in their current job, for example, in charities or government departments.

Employment Links

Social science research skills are useful in a range of sectors - academia, government, charities and business. Our graduates are working with a range of employers, from Barnardos to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

You have the option to partner with the Science Shop and develop a research project in collaboration with a community and voluntary sector organisation.

World Class Facilities

Queen’s Q-Step Centre: Queen's is one of 15 Q-Step Centres in the UK, established to provide a step-change in the social sciences with regards quantitative research training. This means that we are well placed to deliver a high level of training to our postgraduate students.

ESRC doctoral research partnership: The programme delivers training for QUB students part of the ESRC NINE Doctoral Training Partnership.

Internationally Renowned Experts

We are an international teaching team and are committed to research-led teaching, with modules reflecting our diverse range of expertise.

Student Experience

Funding Opportunities: we have a number of Q-Step bursaries available for eligible students undertaking quantitative research for their dissertations.

Transferable Skills: advanced social research methods training, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. You will have the opportunity to specialise in particular methods and topics and become familiar with commonly used software, e.g., SPSS, Stata and NVivo.

Student Choice: we have a wide and varied range of modules, reflecting staff expertise in research methodologies and substantive areas. The dissertation allows students the opportunity to specialise in a topic of their own choice, guided by an academic supervisor.

Flexibility: the programme is usually delivered in evenings and full day/half day sessions, including weekends. The programme can be taken full-time or part-time. Students can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma, on successful completion of 60 or 120 CATS respectively.

How to Apply

Apply using the online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Visit the Social Science Research (MRes/PgDip) page on the Queen’s University Belfast website for more details!





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