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Social Research Methods (MSc)

Course Description

Keen to measure the impact of an intervention? Interested in finding out about attitudes and values? Want insight into individual motivations and realities of lived experiences? Whatever your approach to understanding the social world and the individuals within it, we offer an industry-recognised qualification that explores a variety of research methods, before letting you specialise in your own areas of interest. Whatever your background, we’ll give you the skills for successful research.

Part-time option

Analysing census data. Monitoring how we use social media. Investigating newspaper language. Social research is wide-ranging. Working as a junior researcher in the private, public or third sector? Moving onto further study? Wanting to pursue a social research career? Whatever your background, our part-time route will give you the skills to succeed.

Key features

Distinguish yourself with a qualification that’s recognised to a professional industry standard and accredited by the Market Research Society (MRS). Excel on a programme that examiners and reviewers praise for its balance of practical and theoretical study and benefit from the opportunity to put theory into practice in a safe environment, with guidance and support every step of the way.

Deepen your understanding of a range of research methodologies and theories, as well as practical skills. Test these out in work placements available as part of the programme, with researchers active across Plymouth University and beyond. Previous students have conducted projects researching Street Pastors, National Student Survey (NSS) scores and the Plymouth Food Network, amongst others.

Learn from staff who are internationally recognised experts in their field, covering a range of areas from health services research, drug use, gender, health and well-being, media, global development, work, education and employment to rural service provision. Staff from across the University may also be available to supervise your dissertations depending on your chosen specialism.

Study a wide range of applied, transferable research methods. Then work towards a distinct MSc exit qualification in a specialist area of your choice, including quantitative, qualitative, social science, education and evaluation research. Past dissertation topics have included: web media influences on voting, Perspectives on hate crime amongst police; Packaging colours and purchase intent; Experiences of older motherhood; Mental health issues in the workplace; Cyber-bullying and Higher Education and The modern wedding – romance or consumerism?

Connect with other researchers from across Plymouth University and beyond with links to the expertise at the Institute of Health and Community (IHC), as well as other research centres.

Tailor your time at university to meet your needs by balancing your study around your work and personal commitments. Opt for a full-time programme taught two days a week (usually Monday and Friday) over a year, or choose part-time study over two to five years.

Choose to take modules individually as stand-alone professional development courses if you require training in a specific area but don’t want to work towards an MSc/ PgDip or PgCert qualification.

Replace your traditional masters dissertation with a practical, professional research apprenticeship. Research work placements have taken place in students’ existing workplaces, including Barnardo’s, the NHS and Plymouth Council. Other students have found research work abroad with organisations such as Ipsos GmbH, and more locally with SERIO, PEDRIO, and The Dartington Hall Trust. And worked with academics within the University on funded projects.

Expand your qualifications with the opportunity to take the exam for the MRS Advanced Certificate in Social and Market Research. This is a market research industry and government recognised qualification.

Course details

The programme has an emphasis on professional development of applied, transferable research skills, attracting individuals from across the private, public and third sector. Supported by the substantive and methodological expertise of academic staff, it provides opportunities to develop a comprehensive and in-depth understanding relating to both conceptual knowledge and practical skills. Gain a distinctive qualification whose title specifically reflects the areas you engage with for your dissertation. For example, if your dissertation focuses on an evaluation of programme or intervention you’ll be awarded an MSc Social Research Methods (Evaluation).

Alternatively, if your dissertation focuses on a subject specialism, for example, media you’ll be awarded MSc Social Research Methods (Media). Other examples of specialisms include: work, employment, education, visual methods, health services, global development, tourism, work. Opt for one of two possible exit awards prior to completing the MSc. A PgCert in Social Research Methods is awarded on the successful completion of 60 credits of taught modules and the PgDip in Social Research Methods is awarded on completion of 120 credits of taught modules.

Typically, part-time study takes two years, and attendance is one day a week. However, you may take the programme over a maximum period of five years.


The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Postgraduate Admissions and Enquiries team are on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by Plymouth University, please visit our Disability Assist Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email .

Scholarships are available for postgraduate taught programmes.

Visit the Social Research Methods (MSc) page on the Plymouth University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You will need a relevant degree with honours or an equivalent professional qualification. Other qualifications accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field may also be considered. Non-standard applications will be considered on a case by case basis. You will be required to provide evidence of your English language ability, for example by achieving an IELTS score of 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element) or equivalent. Pre-sessional English language courses are available if you do not meet these requirements.

Course Fees

Full-time: UK/EU: £5,660, International: £13,250, Islands: £13,250; Part-time (per 10 credits): UK/EU: £314, International: £750, Islands: £750

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