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Social Research MA (College-wide programme)

Course Description

The College of Social Sciences welcomes all postgraduates to the recently redesigned MA in Social Research programme which continues to enjoy full RT (research training) recognition by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This programme aims to provide students with a sound background in social research design and the most up-to-date training in methods of data collection and analysis. The combination of core modules and short courses on more advanced topics provides maximum flexibility for taught postgraduate and research students throughout their study.

The core elements of the programme are delivered by staff across the entire College, many of whom are engaged in cutting-edge research in their own fields. Students will benefit by undertaking the modules with others from different departments within the School of Government and Society, eg, Political Science and International Studies; the Centre for Russian and East European Studies; the Institute for Applied Social Studies; and within the wider College. Students will also receive training on more discipline-specific research elements, as well as dissertation supervision, provided by individual departments. On completion of this MA, many students continue their PhD studies or pursue a career in research in the public, private or voluntary sector.

Programme content
Term 1:

Introduction to Social Research (20)
Research Design (20)
Thesis-related preparation
Information Skills for Social Sciences
University Programme of Skills Training (as necessary)
Dissertation-related preparation
Term 2:

Social Research Methods I (20)
Social Research Methods II (20)
Thesis-related preparation
Summer Term:

Four Short courses (10)
Dissertation (60)
All students registered on the MA in Social Research will take:

1) Four core modules:

Introduction to Social Science Research (20 credits)
Research Design (20 credits)
Social Research Methods I (20 credits)
Social Research Methods II (20 credits)

2) Four elective modules (10 credits each) from the short course programme below
3) A 14,000 word dissertation (60 credits)

Short courses
All short courses run as 2-day intensive workshops from 10–4pm with breaks. This list is updated regularly as new courses are approved so do check this website from time to time to see what is on offer.

These short courses are open to all research students in the College (and some departments in other Colleges, such as Geography, subject to the discretion of the Programme Team). However, places on each course are limited and priority will be given to MA Social Research students.

These short courses are also open to all staff in the University who may wish to attend without completing the assessments. However, all doctoral researchers and staff who wish to to so will be placed on a waiting list. Confirmation will be sent a week before the course dates.

Short course programmes
From Multiple linear to Logistic regression
Narrative Research
Analyzing Hierarchical and Panel Data
Visual Research Methods
Linguistic Ethnography
Documentary Research in Education, History and the Social Sciences
Researching Disability
Approaches to Research on Discourse
Policy Evaluation
Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis (using NVivo)
Secondary Research Data Analysis in Social Research
Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Social Science
Overseas Research
Q Methodology – A Systematic Approach for Interpretive Research Design
Activity Theory and its research applications
Some courses have pre-requisites, eg, to register on Multiple Linear and Logistic Regression, Factor Analysis and Narrative Research; you will need to have passed Data Analysis (20 credits module) or equivalent. For the latter, you will need to provide evidence that you have passed a similar course on quantitative/qualitative data analysis where appropriate.

Please be aware that some of these courses run on the same dates. Make sure you have not picked courses that clash with each other. For further details or to sign up for these short courses, please email the course names, your name, student ID and your programme to |.

Skills and attributes gained
Students will have acquired a solid foundation of a broad range of research methods that are widely used in the social sciences and will have developed:

A sound understanding of the methodological debates
An overview of the philosophy of social science and how this informs research design, methods chosen of data collection and analysis
An ability to use a range of research techniques appropriate to their subject area
Competence in the representation and presentation of information and data
An ability to communicate research findings effectively to a wider range of audiences
An appreciation of the potential use and impact of their research within and beyond academia
An ability to engage with relevant users at all points in the research process, from devising and shaping research questions through to enhancing practice
Learning and teaching
Students are expected to engage in high-level discussion during all sessions. Teaching will be delivered by a combination of lectures, seminars and computer workshops. Some fieldwork involving primary data collection is required where appropriate.

Many students go on to do a PhD after completing this MA. Others have followed a career in local authorities, government departments, health authorities, management consultancy, media, the voluntary sector and so on.

All core modules are assessed by a 4000-word essay or report. On most short courses, a 3000-report is usually required. The dissertation length is 14,000 words and students are expected to utilise the knowledge and skills they learned from the taught elements in this programme.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days (Friday 13 November 2015 and Friday 4 March 2016). Register to attend at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/pgopendays

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit: http://www.pg.bham.ac.uk

Visit the Social Research MA (College-wide programme) page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

Student Profiles

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

Contact the School for details

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