Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

DTP Training at Nottingham

Core and advanced training underpins all aspects of the Midlands Graduate School vision. The trainings needs of all MGS students are assessed by a Training Needs Analysis which will take place each year.

Research Methods Training

Regardless of the methods students are planning to use in their PhD, the ESRC’s training requirements state that all students should reach a certain standard of research methods training.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of their training in research methods students are expected to have developed the following skills and be able to apply them in practical research contexts:

  • a competent understanding of the debates within disciplines that inform their field of study
  • an overview of the philosophy of research methods and how this informs research design, the methods chosen, the means of analysis and the representation and presentation of information and data
  • an ability to understand and use a range of research techniques appropriate to their subject area, and who are conversant and sympathetic to approaches used by other fields
  • an ability to integrate what they have learned in addressing research in ways that are characteristic of an experienced, highly effective researcher
  • a competent understanding of the use and impact of their research within and beyond academia and the mechanisms through which this might be achieved
  • an ability to engage with relevant users at all points in the research process, from developing and shaping research questions, to continued engagement and relationship building throughout the research process (thereby aligning non-academic needs to shape processes where appropriate) and to share findings in ways specific to the interests of the audience
  • an ability to communicate their research findings effectively to a wide range of audience
  • an ability to engage with a range of partners whether internationally, through collaborative working and/or across interdisciplinary fields of research
  • An appreciation of the skills required to become a research leader in their field and an understanding of the opportunities available to them to support the development of their career.
  • comprehension of principles of research design and strategy, including an understanding of how to formulate research questions which are amenable to empirical investigation and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research;
  • competence in understanding and applying a broad range of research methods, (including quantitativequalitative and mixed methods), and the use of appropriate software for their application;
  • the development of advanced research skills and techniques relevant to their field of study;
  • capabilities for managing research, including data management, and conducting and disseminating research in a way that is consistent with both professional practice and the normal principles of research ethics;
  • understanding of the significance of alternative epistemological positions that provide the context for theory construction, research design, and the selection of appropriate analytical techniques;
  • understanding of the basics of probability, and a critical understanding of the scientific method and of the nature of reflexivity; and
  • understanding of the application of good ethical practice across the entire research process.

Determining the Length of your Award

The ESRC has a number of award lengths available, based on the extent to which the student/applicant has met the ESRC’s training requirements (as briefly outlined above).

  • 3-year awards are given to students who have entirely or substantially met both the generic (core) and subject-specific requirements for ESRC-supported students (e.g. through prior completion of a broad-based social science MSc MA, or the newly created Masters in Social Science Research);
  • 1+3 awards are given to students who require all or most of both generic and subject-specific training. The '1' component comprises a Masters in Social Science Research (MSSR) before progressing onto the PhD;
  • 3.5 year awards are for those who have met some of either the generic or pathway-specific requirements but who require training in one or both of those areas. Typically, these students will need to take 2 core modules to cover the required training.

Masters in Social Science Research (MSSR)

All six partner institutions of the MGS each deliver a Masters in Social Science Research (MSSR) as the '1' element of a 1+3 award, designed to meet the ESRC's compulsory core training requirements for all ESRC-funded students.

Structure (total = 180 credits)
 Core Modules (4 x 20 credits)  80 credits
 Dissertation  60 credits
 Subject specific or advanced modules  40 credits
Core Modules

Broadly speaking, every instance of the MSSR will contain all of the following four core modules. However, for pathways where some core competencies will have been met prior to entry (e.g. quantitative methods in Economics), the relevant core module will be substituted for Advanced Training.

Subject specific / advanced modules
All students will take at least 20 credits of subject-spefic modules. Depending on which pathway you are studying in, students will either take a further 20 credits of subject-specific training, or 20 credits of advanced training from a range of modules offered across the partnership.
All 1+3 students will have to complete a masters-level dissertation before progressing onto the PhD element of the studentship. 
Part-time Options

The following serves in principle, as a part-time structure for the MSSR. If a student requires a different structure, they should contact Professor Howard Stevenson, Head of Training, for approval, and make sure they have made their home School aware.

Year 1: 80 credits
 Autumn Spring
 Philosophy of Research (20 credits)  Foundations in Qualitative Methods (20 credits)
 Research Design, Practise and Ethics (20 credits)  
 Either semester: 20 credits of advanced or subject specific modules (depending on pathway)
 40-60 credits  20-40 credits


Year 2: 100 credits including dissertation
 Autumn Spring Summer
 Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis (20 credits)    Dissertation (60 credits)
 Either semester: 20 credits of advanced or subject specific modules (depending on pathway)
 20-40 credits  0-20 credits  60 credits

Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 4507