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Research Methods - MSc

Course Description

Empower yourself as a producer and user of empirical research by developing a methodological toolkit of knowledge and skills.

Who is it for?

This programme is for students who wish to develop their knowledge and skills as a professional researcher in academia, private or public sectors. It is suitable for those seeking to undertake foundational training for doctoral level research, as well as those planning to work in an environment where they might need to commission, undertake, or otherwise critically engage with empirical social research.

Students will typically have a first degree in an arts or social sciences subject. Some students come to us with prior experience of conducting empirical research, or using it, while some are new to the field – the programme thrives on the diversity of experiences and interests of its students.


The aim of the course is to boost your understanding, appreciation and practice of qualitative and quantitative research methods. It is taught by academics in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, so whatever your academic or professional background, you will achieve a broad perspective on the production and consumption of empirical research across a range of disciplines. At the same time, you will be able to pursue your own subject specialism through elective module choices and by conducting your own original research for your dissertation.

In the course we aim to equip you with an overview of key issues in research design and philosophical foundations of social research. We offer several modules in applied quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. These equip you with a set of practical skills to enable you to conduct and critically read research using these methods, and provide a firm foundation from which you can pursue further specialist training.

Academic facilities

You will have the opportunity to learn a range of statistical software applications to aid data collection and analysis, such as SPSS, Stata, MatLab and R.

Teaching and learning

Teaching is delivered predominantly by lecturers and other academic staff across the School. You will experience a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and computer lab sessions. You will be expected to read in preparation for classes, and to participate in discussions, group work, presentations and other practical activities. You will be expected to take responsibility for your own learning and to engage in independent study. You will be guided by reading lists for each module, and teaching materials will be made available via the virtual learning environment Moodle. The dissertation is a major part of your MSc work, for which you will receive individual supervision.

Assessment is by means of coursework (written assignments, essays or reports), class tests, presentations, unseen written examinations, and the dissertation. The particular assessment details vary according to the module being studied. Your overall degree result is based on your performance in the taught modules and the dissertation.


The course consists of taught modules from interdisciplinary core subjects, plus department-specific elective modules, and a research dissertation.

In full-time study you will typically take four 15-credit modules in Term 1 and four in Term 2. The balance of teaching between the terms may vary according to your module choice. Most modules are worth 15 credits each, with a few elective modules worth 30 credits. Your dissertation is worth 60 credits.

As a general guide, a 15-credit module delivered over ten weeks of teaching will typically comprise an hour-long lecture and an hour-long seminar or workshop each week. We would notionally expect you to spend 150 hours in independent study for each 15-credit module (this time includes time spent reading, working through exercises, preparing for examinations, writing coursework, using online resources, navigating Library resources, and so on.)

Core modules - you will take six core modules alongside your dissertation. Your taught core modules will be as below:
-Research design, methods and methodology (15 credits)
-Rationale and philosophical foundations of social research (15 credits)
-Qualitative research methods (15 credits)
-Applied qualitative data analysis (15 credits)
-Introduction to quantitative inference* (15 credits)

You will choose one of the following (two if you do not study quantitative interference) core quantitative analysis modules with the guidance of the Programme Director:
-Statistical models ** (15 credits)
-Applied econometric and psychological research methods (15 credits)
-Multivariate data analysis (15 credits)
-Statistical modelling ** (15 credits)
-Research methods dissertation (60 credits)

*May not be compulsory if you have prior training in quantitative methods.
**You may study Statistical models or Statistical modelling, but not both.

Elective modules - in addition, you take one or two elective modules (to the value of 30 credits) from the following list. All modules are worth 15 credits, unless otherwise stated. Some modules have a stronger methodological element, while some are more substantively focused.

Culture and Creative Industries (Sociology Department)
-Evaluation, politics and advocacy (15 credits)
-Culture (15 credits)
-Cultural policy (15 credits)

Department of Journalism
-Storytelling (30 credits)
-Literary criticism non-fiction (30 credits)

Department of Economics
-Macroeconomics (15 credits)
-Financial derivatives (15 credits)
-Corporate finance (15 credits)
-Asset pricing (15 credits)
-Econometrics (15 credits)

Department of International Politics
-Political Islam in global politics (15 credits)
-International financial institutions (15 credits)
-Understanding security in the 21st century (15 credits)
-International organisations in global politics (15 credits)
-Development and world politics (15 credits)
-Political economy of global finance (15 credits)
-The politics of forced migration (15 credits)
-Global governance (15 credits)
-International politics of the Middle East (15 credits)
-Global financial governance (15 credits)
-US foreign policy (15 credits)
-Economic diplomacy (15 credits)
-Foreign policy analysis (15 credits)

Department of Psychology
-Fundamental processes in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology (15 credits)
-Mental health, wellbeing & neuroscience (15 credits)
-Research methods & programming (15 credits)

Department of Sociology
-Survey research methods (15 credits)
-Transnational media and communication (15 credits)
-Developments in communications policy (15 credits)
-Political communication (15 credits)
-Democratisation and networked communication (15 credits)
-Communication, culture and development (30 credits)
-Celebrity (15 credits)
-Analysing crime (15 credits)
-Researching criminal justice (15 credits)
-Criminal minds (15 credits)
-Victims: policy and politics (15 credits)
-Crime news and media justice (15 credits)

*Please note, elective modules are run subject to minimum enrolment numbers/availability and may vary slightly from year to year.

Career prospects

Graduates from the MSc in Research Methods should find themselves well equipped for careers which require critical engagement with empirical research, whether in commissioning, designing, conducting, or making use of its results. Likely destinations include local and central government, public and private sector research organisations, companies involved in marketing, charities and non-governmental organisations. Recent graduate destinations of students studying research methods include the UK Government’s Cabinet Office; Ministry of Defence; Department of Energy and Climate Change; National Health Service; London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; Eurofound (EU agency); Rhetoric Solutions (market knowledge provider); Ipsos MORI (leading UK market research company); NatCen (leading social research organisation in the UK); and a range of charities and institutions.

The course is also an ideal foundation for students who wish to pursue doctoral research in social sciences.

Visit the Research Methods - MSc page on the City, University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Hashim Ahmed

I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying Research Methods at City University London.

I joined the course hoping to get a good grounding in both theory and practice, before embarking on my career. I found the course offered the perfect balance, with the philosophical foundations, theory and practice all covered, giving me the perfect springboard from which to launch my career.

The course covered end-to-end qualitative and quantitative methods, with the teaching and support staff always approachable to offer help or advice.

I definitely recommend that anyone hoping for a career in social research, or those looking to make the next step, take this course.

(Student Profile)

Martin Mitchell

As an employer we would expect the researchers we employ to have a minimum of a Masters qualification. A qualification that provides a sound theoretical and applied grounding in research methods and methodology would be a significant advantage to students who want to pursue a research career with us or similar employers.

In addition, the funders of our research regularly look at the academic CVs of staff who will be conducting research on their behalf. A good Masters degree that shows students possess the knowledge and skills to apply methodology in practical and ethical ways is an important contribution to ensuring student suitability to be involved with research and/or to go on to higher level research and further postgraduate education.

NatCen and our clients would consider a MSc in Research Methods a very valuable asset to any student seeking employment in social or market research.


Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in a social science discipline, but other relevant subjects will be considered. Applications are also welcome from those with experience of working in a relevant area. An equivalent qualification from an overseas institution will be considered. Students are required to have a grade C or above in Mathematics at GCSE or equivalent. All students are expected to be computer literate.

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