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Methods of Social Research (PCert, PDip, MA)

Course Description

The MA Methods of Social Research provides essential training for employment where an understanding of social research is important, as well as for further academic research in a social science discipline.

This MA programme at Kent exposes students to a wide range of thinking and approaches in social science research presented in a multi-disciplinary context and at an advanced level.

The focus of the programme is on developing practical skills in data collection, in data analysis and interpretation, and in the presentation of research findings so that students gain insight into the research process from design to the production of new knowledge.

More generally students will broaden their understanding of the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues that matter in research, and will become aware of debates about the relationship between theory and research and between research and policy/practice.

Visit the website https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/119/methods-of-social-research

About the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR):
SSPSSR has a long and distinguished history, and is one of the largest and most successful social science research communities in Europe. It has received top ratings in Research Assessment Exercises, and most recently had 70% of its work judged as either “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” in terms of its “originality, significance and rigour”.

The School supports a large and thriving postgraduate community and in 2010 distributed in excess of £100,000 in Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) quota awards, and in University and SSPSSR bursaries and scholarships to new students.

Academic staff specialise in research of international, comparative and theoretical significance, and we have collective strengths in the following areas: civil society, NGOs and the third sector; cross-national and European social policy; health, social care and health studies; work, employment and economic life; risk, ‘risk society’ and risk management; race, ethnicity and religion; social and public policy; sociology and the body; crime, culture and control; sociological theory and the culture of modernity.

Course structure

Master's (MA):
The MA programme consists of:

- four compulsory one-unit modules (total of 80 credits, 40 ECTS)
- two optional one-unit modules or one two-unit module (total of 40 credits, 20 ECTS)
- and a supervised dissertation (60 credits, 30 ECTS).

The compulsory modules are:

- Qualitative Research
- Quantitative Data Analysis
- Critical Social Research: Truth, Ethics and Power
- Design of Social Research

The dissertation will be on a topic of your choosing and involves carrying out original empirical research using the research methods covered in modules.

Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma (PCert/PDip):
There is the option to take this programme as a Postgraduate Certificate, where you just take the four compulsory modules (80 credits). The Certificate is offered to all registered PhD students (part-time or full-time) within the Faculty of Social Sciences (not only to SSPSSR students) free of charge subject to supervisors’ consent.

You can also take it as a Postgraduate Diploma, where you take the four compulsory modules and two optional modules but without taking the dissertation (120 credits).

Full time or part time?:
The Programme can be taken either full-time over one year or part-time over two years. For part-time students, in the first year you take 'Design of Social Research' and 'Qualitative Data Analysis.' In the second year, you take 'Quantitative Research' and 'Using Research – Advanced Critical Skills'. Additional credits will be obtained from optional modules offered within the Faculty.


Teaching for the MA will take a variety of forms, including lectures, tutor-led seminars, student-led seminars, small group work, workshops on data analysis, guided search of on-line data sources, and self-directed learning based on the University Library.

Students will be assessed in each module and on a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice.

Module assessments vary. Some require either one 5,000-word or two 2,500-word essays; others require more of a portfolio of work, including in-class tests. The individual module outlines contain the necessary information on assessment.

This programme aims to:

•provide appropriate methods training for students preparing an MA dissertation or MPhil/DPhil theses, or for students going on to employment involving the use of social science research

•introduce you to a variety of different approaches to social science research, presented in a multidisciplinary context

•cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating these into practicable research designs

•make you aware of the range of secondary data available and equip you to evaluate their utility for research

•develop skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary context

•introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and the debates about the relationship between theory and research, the problems of evidence and inference, and the limits of objectivity

•develop skills in the use of SPSS and other statistical techniques of data analysis, including multivariate analysis

•develop skills in writing, the preparation of a research proposal, the presentation of research results, and verbal communication

•help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, such as seminar papers, conference presentations, reports and publications to a range of audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users and the general public

•give you an appreciation of the potential and problems of social research in local, regional, national and international settings.


Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we place considerable emphasis on you gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject alongside core transferable skills.

We ensure that you develop the skills and competences that employers are looking for including: research and analysis; policy development and interpretation; independent thought; writing and presentation, as well as time management and leadership skills.

You also become fully involved in the professional research culture of the School. A postgraduate degree in the area of social and public policy is a particularly flexible and valuable qualification that can lead to many exciting opportunities and professions.

Recent graduates have pursued careers in academia, journalism, local and central government, charities and NGOs.

Find out how to apply here - https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply/

Visit the Methods of Social Research (PCert, PDip, MA) page on the University of Kent website for more details!

(Student Profile)


I've learnt a lot from the way staff informally discuss their research. Everyone is really open. They are always interested in what I am researching and suggest new avenues that I could explore.


The Templeman Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

This scholarship covers the tuition fees for one year of a full-time taught postgraduate programme at the University of Kent.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Full-time taught postgraduation tuition fees for one year


•Applicants must be University of Kent Graduates.
•Applicants must already hold, or be expected to achieve, a first class honours degree from the University of Kent.
•Applicants must have received, and accepted an offer for a full-time taught postgraduate degree (any subject) at the University of Kent for 2016-17.
•Full-time UK (home), EU and overseas fee paying students are invited to apply.

Application Procedure

Email the Scholarships Unit ([email protected]) with the following:•Subject line: Templeman Scholarship
•Include in the email: ◦ full name
◦student application number or current student ID number
◦previous University of Kent undergraduate student ID number
•Attach a covering letter addressing "Why I wish to pursue my chosen postgraduate degree at Kent".

Further Information



Graduate School Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

The University of Kent offers a broad variety of postgraduate study and research opportunities across a range of superb locations in Canterbury, Medway, Brussels and Paris. Our postgraduates benefit from teaching and supervision by world-leading researchers and have access to excellent facilities and training opportunities. The Graduate School Scholarship Scheme was established in 2009 to celebrate the founding of the University's Graduate School, which is responsible for the strategic development of graduate education and research within the University. The scholarship provides a £1,000 reduction (£500 per annum for part-time students, for 2 years) in tuition fees to University of Kent 2015 graduates who earn a Bachelors degree with honours (or undergraduate Masters degree) and register for a postgraduate degree at Kent by 1 October 2015.Candidates can hold the Graduate School Scholarship in conjunction with other awards except where these awards offer full fees and a Research Council UK equivalent maintenance grant. The Graduate School Scholarship cannot be held in conjunction with the University's loyalty discount.

Value of Scholarship(s)

£1000 towards tuition fees


Exclusively for 2015 Kent graduates who are registered at Kent by 1 October 2015 for a self-funded postgraduate degree programme.

Application Procedure

There is no need to make a separate application. The tuition fee reduction will be provided to all eligible 2014 graduates on registration.

Further Information



Music Scholarships - 15 Awards

The University of Kent recognises the role that music and culture plays in the development of the individual and the benefits cultural activities bring to the wider University community. It offers Music Performance Scholarships of up to £5,000 each year to talented instrumentalists and singers studying for any degree. The scholarship is intended to encourage excellence and development in music performance, and includes instrumental/vocal tuition with experienced teachers. Around fifteen scholarships are awarded to new applicants each year. In return, recipients are expected to make a major contribution to the musical life of the University. Scholarships will normally be allocated only to those students whose musical interests and talents can be supported within the University community.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Music Scholarships/Awards are intended to recognise and encourage excellence. Applicants would usually be expected to demonstrate some or all of the following criteria when submitting their written application:•an advanced ABRSM grade (or equivalent, including RockSchool, Trinity or other international musical qualifications)
•a significant musical profile whilst in school / college / university or the local community
•appropriate performing experience at county or national level / conservatoire, e.g. youth choir, county orchestra, wind band, jazz or big band
•experience in giving public performances, e.g. gigs or solo recitals, major role in musical theatre productions

Application Procedure

There is no deadline prior to the start of the academic year, but early application for is advisable. If you would like to discuss the Music Scholarship/Award Schemes prior to your application, contact Susan Wanless, Director of University Music, Tel 01227 823305.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first degree, attaining a 2.1 or equivalent in a social science discipline and must satisfy the School’s minimum English language requirements of IELTS 7.0 (with a minimum of 6.5 in each component), from a qualification taken within the last two years.

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