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MA Social Research

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  • Entry requirements
    a good honours degree in a social science discipline.
  • Course description
    Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
    Our MA in Social Research provides the training that all ESRC-funded PhD students must undertake in Year One. The School has had seven quota awards in the past two years, as well as successful candidates in the open competition.

    If you want a critical understanding of social research strategies…
    • And familiarity with the relationships between research, practice and policy…

    If you want to develop specialist knowledge in quantitative and qualitative methods…
    • And a portfolio of 'hands-on' methodological skills and competencies…

    If you want to embark upon academic PhD research…
    • Or policy-focused research in a social research institute or government agency…

    …then MA Social Research is the programme for you.

    MA in Social Research at Leeds provides in-depth academic training in social research.

    The programme covers a wide range of social research philosophies, strategies, techniques and issues, and is based on the integration of theory and practice.

    It provides access to a good range of relevant transferable skills in social research, and includes the production of a research dissertation.

    In the last decade, there has been enormous growth in the social research enterprise. Although different research environments, such as academic departments or governmental agencies, have distinctive research cultures, there is an increasing emphasis on the production of high quality, rigorous and meaningful research by professionally trained researchers.

    We designed the MA in Social Research to provide such training, and the course will interest people pursuing, or enhancing, a research-related career in a wide range of settings.

    MA Social Research has ESRC 1+3 recognition and is available on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis. The course has five modules: four compulsory, one elective.

    Compulsory Modules

    Research Strategy and Design focuses on the design of social research, and will help you navigate the difficult task of linking often abstract theoretical and methodological perspectives with practical research strategies. Thorough weekly workshops, the module concentrates on the key issues that researchers need to recognise, confront and resolve in the design of social research. Such issues include the principles of sampling and selection in research design, how to choose appropriate methods for generating and collecting data, the principles of data analysis, the ethics, politics and practicalities of research design and the creation of research proposals.

    Quantitative Research Methods introduces you to the skills required for the generation, analysis and management of quantitative data. Using concrete research problems, the module investigates a wide range of quantitative research issues and gives you the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of the discipline. Practicalities covered include survey design, computer-based 'hands-on' workshops with SPSS for Windows, using data from one or more large scale data sets, creative data analysis linked to theory development, data modelling using regression techniques, effective use of secondary data sets and ways of linking data, including the scope for linking quantitative and qualitative data.

    Qualitative Research Methods examines qualitative research design, practice and analysis and features a series of practical workshops on qualitative data analysis, using software packages such as QSR NUD*IST or NVivo. The module will also develop your skills for generating qualitative research data, such as interview technique, biographical and narrative approaches, focus group approaches, ethnography and observation, non-verbal and visual methods, and give you a critical appreciation of the appropriateness of particular methods to different research scenarios. The module also explores the relationship between qualitative and quantitative research, and between qualitative research and policy.

    Research Dissertation extends the formal training you have developed in other modules into a fieldwork, or practical empirical research setting, and provides 'hands-on' training of the relevant methods and approaches. In consultation with a member of staff drawn from the department's MA/PhD supervisory panel, you will develop a research problem or substantive topic for your dissertation, and test it out through your repertoire of methodological skills and techniques. Where relevant, your dissertation may become the substantive focus of a PhD in the ESRC 1+3 model, as this module satisfies ESRC requirements for research training in the new 1+3 regime.

    Elective modules
    We enhanced our MA Social Research programme in 2004 by introducing 'pathways' that facilitate a degree of specialisation. These pathways mean you choose between either a primarily sociologically-orientated module, such as Fundamental Issues in Sociological Research, or one dedicated to Social Policy research, such as Issues in Social Policy Analysis and Research, or Disability Research, such as Debates on Disability Theory and Research, in Semester One.
    • Criminal Justice Policies, Perspectives and Research
    • Issues in Social Policy Analysis and Research
    • Fundamental Issues in Sociological Research
    • Evaluation Research
    • Debates on Disability Theory and Research

    For more information about both the compulsory and elective modules, please consult the module catalogue .

    Full-time students take two taught modules in each semester, as well as the dissertation. Part-time students take three modules in Year One, and the remaining module and the dissertation in Year Two.

    Postgraduate Diploma in Social Research
    Available on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis, the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Research covers similar ground to the MA, but does not include the dissertation module. On the basis of a good performance in a full-time student's first semester, or a part-timer's first year, students initially registered for the Diploma may be transferred onto the corresponding MA. 

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