The MA in Sociology and Panel Data Analysis offers students advanced training in applied and theoretical sociology and in the analysis of longitudinal and panel data. It is run by the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
Modules and Options
The lists of modules below represent the range of options available for each year of study. This may not be a complete list of the options you will study, and may be subject to change, so please contact the department for further details.
COLONIALISM, CULTURE AND GLOBALIZATION
Compulsory: APPLICATIONS OF DATA ANALYSIS
CONVERSATION ANALYSIS AND THE DYNAMICS OF REAL-TIME SOCIAL INTERACTION
Core: CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN SOCIOLOGY
Core: MA DISSERTATION
Core: PANEL DATA METHODS
Core: SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH DESIGN
CULTURAL STUDIES: THEORY AND HISTORY
CURRENT CONTROVERSIES IN CRIMINOLOGICAL RESEARCH
DYNAMICS OF HOME AND WORK IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
FORMATIVE DEBATES IN CRIMINOLOGY
GAY, LESBIAN AND QUEER LIFE: GENDER, SEXUALITIES AND CHANGE
GAY, LESBIAN AND QUEER LIFE: HISTORY AND VISUAL CULTURE
GENDER DIVISIONS AND FEMINIST THEORY
GENDER, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT
GLOBALIZATION, INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND ETHNICITY
INTERVIEWING AND QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS FROM UNIVARIATE TO MULTIVARIATE METHODS
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THE GLOBAL CHALLENGE
SOCIOLOGY OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
SOCIOLOGY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 1
SOCIOLOGY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 2: SELECTED SPECIAL TOPICS
TEXTS, DOCUMENTS AND ETHNOGRAPHY
THE CONTEMPORARY NATION STATE
THE DYNAMICS OF GLOBALISATION
THE USE OF CULTURE: KNOWLEDGE, POWER AND DIFFERENCE
Teaching and Assessment Methods
A: Knowledge and Understanding
A1 : A solid sociological knowledge at the forefront of thinking in sociological research
A10 : An ability to do a piece of independent original research
A2 : An advanced comprehension of basic principles of research design and strategy, such as how to formulate researchable problems and to evaluate alternative approaches to research
A3 : A critical understanding of the relationship between theory and empirical research
A4 : A practical knowledge of a wide range of survey designs and skills, especially those collecting longitudinal and panel data
A5 : A practical knowledge of relevant methods of analysis of such surveys
A6 : An appreciation of the centrality of research questions and hypotheses in sociological enquiry
A7 : A practical understanding of how to address the ethical and political dimensions of research
A8 : A critical understanding of the significance of alternative epistemological and ontological positions and ethical consderations that provide the context for sociological research
A9 : A practical awareness of multidisciplinary approaches to the analysis of longitudinal and panel data
The scheme provides specialist training in quantitative sociological research, especially that based on panel and longitudinal data. It involves one foundation module in sociological theory (SC901), one foundation module in quantitative methods (SC504), two modules in panel data methods (SC968) and applications in panel data analysis (SC969), plus an option taken from other Sociology MA courses, and a dissertation. By appropriate choice of options, students may choose to either strengthen their research design skills (learning the process and logic of research design in SC905) or widen their portfolio to also encompass qualitative research (learning how to conduct interviews and undertake qualitative analysis in SC520 or learning how to carry out fieldwork in SC523. Lectures are used to present material - ideas, data and arguments - in a clear and structured manner using examples, mapping the field and the contours of debates. Lectures are also used to stimulate students' interest in learning the methods for sociological research. In each module the issues and methods covered in lectures are explored further through hands-on practice or assignments for which students have to prepare. The course is designed to involve clear connection between the foundational theories and principles in SC901 and SC905 and their applications in the other, skill-oriented modules. There is a strong emphasis on developing students' advanced understanding of epistemological traditions through contemporary debates in SC901.Classes, and preparation for classes, provide the opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the content of the modules. In addition student learning takes place through the work they do preparing essays and, where appropriate, practical assignments.
Learning outcomes A1 to A9 are assessed by a mixture of coursework and examination. Modules taught by the Sociology Department (all modules cited above except SC968, EC969) are assessed through coursework, where coursework includes oral presentations, assignments, and essays. SC968 and EC969 are taught by the multidisciplinary Institute for Social and Economic Research and are each assessed by means of a 2-hour written examination, with the option of a term paper. (The mark for each of these two modules is either the average of the marks from the examination and the term paper, or the examination mark alone, whichever is the higher.) In addition, the assessed work for the degree includes a dissertation, which specifically assesses outcome A10.
B: Intellectual/Cognitive Skills
B1 : An advanced ability to search, summarise, and critically review sociological literature
B2 : A sense of criticism in comparatively reviewing competing theories and explanations
B3 : The ability to develop an original sociological argument
B4 : An advanced ability to formulate researchable sociological questions
B5 : A practical capability to analyse quantitative sociological data, especially that derived from longitudinal and panel surveys
B6 : An advanced ability to evaluate, analyse, and interpret empirical evidence
Students enhance the intellectual skills listed primarily through the work they do for their modules, although lectures provide a means of teachers demonstrating these skills through example. Learning is enhanced by hands-on exercises. Student preparation involves the reading, interpretation and evaluation of sociological texts and research papers and the analysis of empirical data to hone methodological skills. Class teachers provide feedback on student work through comment and discussion. In addition, teachers engage students outside the classroom during office hours, appointments, and increasingly more often by email. Similarly the preparation of essays and other assignments also develops the intellectual skills that are listed. Students are provided with feedback on assessed work and this is crucial to their intellectual development. The dissertation is used to demonstrate a student's mastery of a particular type of longitudinal or panel survey, as well as their analytical ability and understanding of the complete research process. Additionally, MA students, along with PhD students and staff, are encouraged to attend the two-day Annual Graduate Conference, which is held in February off-campus. Addressing a different topical theme each year, it provides a stimulating forum for intellectual debate and discussion.
Outcomes B2 and B3 are judged and evaluated in SC901. Outcomes B4, B5 and B6 are assessed in SC504, SC968 and EC969. Further assessment is provided in the optional modules. All the outcomes B1-B6 are assessed in the MA dissertation. Demonstration of advanced intellectual skills is a key criterion in awarding distinctions for essays, term papers, examinations, and dissertations.
C: Practical Skills
C1 : An advanced ability to retrieve relevant socioloical literature using library and online searches
C2 : A practical ability to summarise, evaluate and review sociological arguments, sociological texts and sociological findings
C3 : Competence in at least one major quantitative software package for analysis
C4 : A practical ability to apply statistical techniques, from basic to advanced, to sociological data
C5 : A hands-on ability to use data from a variety of sources
C6 : A capacity for self direction in the planning, management and presentation of a piece of medium scale research, making judgements about the best use of time and data
In SC905 students learn to conduct professional literature searches and reviews and to work on the various aspects of the sociological process that are typically found in a research proposal. For learning the practical skills of computer-assisted data analysis, the software package Stata is used in SC968 and EC969 to provide an introduction to the basics of quantitative data analysis plus more advanced and specialist skills. These skills are taught in lab-based sessions and reinforced or supplemented depending on the optional modules taken. For example, SC520 covers qualitative data analysis using MAXQDA, with both modules relying on practical engagement in class. SC523 covers the analysis of texts and observational and ethnographic research, relying on practical exercises in delivery. Quantitative data analysis skills are also taught in SC504. All the half modules teaching practical skills emphasise the inter-relationships between data collection and analysis.
Skills C1 and C2 are specifically assessed in the dissertation, but also form part of the assessment of almost every assessed module essay. C3 and C4 are assessed in SC504 and also in the two modules on panel data analysis, C5 is assessed in the panel data modules and C6 in the marking of the dissertation.
D: Key Skills
D1 : An advanced ability in presenting ideas and evidence to others orally, in a clear and concise manner and an advanced ability to present ideas and evidence to others in writing, in a clear and concise manner
D2 : An advanced ability to collect and present materials using information technology
D3 : A capacity to carry out medium to advanced statistical calculations
D4 : A good self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems
D6 : An essential understanding of how to plan, set appropriate time schedules and assess the feasibility of projects; a keen awareness of the need to reflect on their own work and to respond constructively to the comments of others
Key skills are taught and learned throughout the scheme through a range of strategies. These include requiring students to give oral presentations, giving them specific assignments such as carrying bibliographic and web searches, specific writing assignments, essays and term papers, and through class discussion and class, essay and term paper preparation. Students learn to manage their own research projects through the support and advice of supervisors. They are given feedback on all their coursework and on their dissertation research and are encouraged to reflect on their own work and improve on it. Students also have the opportunity to develop skills in working in groups through their participation in the classes for every module.
Key skills are assessed throughout the degree through continuous assessed coursework, term papers and examinations. D1 is assessed by an in-class presentation in SC968, while D2 is assessed in coursework assignments and in the dissertation. D3 is assessed in the dissertation, and D4 in the panel data modules. The dissertation provides a means for an overall assessment of communication (D1) problem-solving skills (D5), research management (D6), and responding to and working with constructive comments (D7).