On our MA Social Science Research (Socio-Legal Studies), you will develop the following skills, and the ability to apply them to practical research contexts:
- Comprehension of the principles of research design and strategy, including an understanding of how to formulate research questions for empirical investigation
- Appreciation of alternative approaches to research
- Understanding of a broad range of research methods (including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods) and the use of appropriate software for their application
- Advanced research skills and techniques relevant to your field of study
- Research management techniques, 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
- Solid grounding in the basics of probability and a critical understanding of the scientific method and the nature of reflexivity
- Application of good ethical practice across the entire research process
Primarily aimed at students following an ESRC-funded pathwayonto a PhD, this course may also be suitable if you are intending to apply for +3 ESRC funding (to cover a PhD) or are interested in developing a wide range of social science research skills.
Academic English preparation and support
If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.
Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent.
You will complete 95 credits of core research methods modules, plus 25 credits of advanced research methods or law-specific training, and a 60-credit dissertation.
Foundations in Qualitative Methods
This module provides a conceptual overview of the various approaches and debates associated with theory and practice of qualitative research. It examines a range of contrasting perspectives on the design of research including problem identification, selection and sampling, and analysis.
Research ethics, and the role of the researcher in generating qualitative data, are key themes which run through the module. Specific consideration is given to the ways in which qualitative and quantitative approaches may be seen as complementary, and the use of mixed methods.
The module will also cover the ways in which qualitative research can be evaluated. The module will also facilitate dialogue between members of different social science disciplines, to give an understanding of how some issues or practices may be viewed differently from different disciplinary perspectives.
Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
The objective of this module is to further your familiarity with the practice of quantitative data analysis in the social sciences at a foundation level. The lecture component of the module will explore a variety of the most commonly used statistical methods. The laboratory component will provide you with an opportunity to apply these statistical techniques to the analysis of contemporary data. The module should provide a sound grasp of the possibilities, methods, and pitfalls inherent in quantitative social/health science research.
Philosophy of Social Science Research
The module has three parts:
- Science and the philosophical critique of science
- Epistemological debates in the social sciences - including, but not limited to, positivism and its critics, interpretative approaches including phenomenology, critical realism, social construction and the politics of knowledge and the sociology of science
- The funding environment - interdisciplinarity and the impact agenda
Research Design, Practice and Ethics
This module focuses on the analytical, practical and ethical organisation of social science research.
The analytical organisation is often referred to as 'research design' and will constitute the bulk of the content of this module. Research design consists of choices necessary to transform a research question into actual research. These choices pertain to strategies and modes of case selection, observation methods, data collection and modes of analysis.
Every research question can be elaborated in different ways (ie with different designs), none of which will be ideal in all respects as the various choices pertain to trade-offs. Each design has its own implications in terms of costs and in terms of potential threats to the validity of its eventual results. These implications will be elaborated in the module, as well as ways how to handle the resulting choice problems in actual practice.
The practical organisation of research is closely related to design choices, but focuses particularly on logistical and timing issues. Ethical organisation of the research involves awareness of ethical issues, of ethical consent procedures and of their implications for research design and practical organisation.
Research Methods in Law
This module is an introduction to diverse research methods in law. It will include sessions on computer-assisted legal research, cross-disciplinary research and empirical research.
A 45-page dissertation, planned and approved in consultation with research supervisor.
A further 25 credits to be chosen from the school's LLM programme, advanced research training methods modules, or any other modules, subject to approval.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
This course is particularly suitable if you are interested in pursuing PhD study in the social sciences. It may also be useful if you are looking to pursue a career in a statistical or quantitative discipline, such as analysis or planning roles.
Careers support and advice
We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students whatever your course, mode of study or future career plans.
You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate. Expert staff will help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.
More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.
As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.
You should be able to access most of the books you'll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles. Note that our libraries have an excellent range of free electronic books and journals that you can download.
Scholarships and bursaries
Each year we review our scholarship schemes and publish the information available on the school website.
See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide. Further information is available on the school website.
Government loans for masters courses
Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.
International and EU students
Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.
We provide guidance on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study. You can also access specific funding opportunities, entry requirements and other resources for students from specific countries.