Triangle

Course overview

Our Social Science Research (Socio-Legal Studies) MA is aimed at students who want to follow an ESRC-funded pathway onto a PhD or are interested in developing a wide range of social science research techniques.

You will develop the following skills:

  • Comprehension of the principles of research design and strategy, including understanding how to formulate research questions for empirical investigation
  • Appreciation of alternative approaches to research
  • Understanding of a broad range of research methods and the use of appropriate software for their application
  • Advanced research skills and techniques
  • Research management techniques, including data management, and conducting and disseminating research
  • 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

You will graduate with the skills to manage a successful research career and contribute to wider society.

Why choose this course?

Develop your skills

preparing you to undertake a PhD

Dedicated resources

including legal skills advice through workshops and one-to-one sessions

Gain real experience

by applying for internships and placements through our faculty placements scheme

Top 100

in the world for law

Course content

You will complete 95 credits of core research methods modules, plus 25 credits to be chosen from the school's LLM programme, advanced research training methods modules, or any other modules, subject to approval, and a 60-credit dissertation.

The individual dissertation project provides you with the opportunity for a sustained engagement in the development and refinement of knowledge and understanding through detailed exploration of a specific issue.

Modules

Core modules

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

This module aims to give you:

  • An understanding of the methods of statistical analysis, using topics and datasets from the empirical social science literature
  • A familiarity with STATA statistical software and data management

The course uses a range of datasets from across political science, focusing on topics such as social capital, voter turnout, cabinet duration, demonstration activity and class voting.

Philosophy of Social Science Research

The module has three parts:

  1. Science and the philosophical critique of science
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Dissertation

Written work on a legal topic of the your choice resulting from individual research and normally based upon material falling within the area covered by the degree for which you are registered.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 13 October 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Tutorials
  • Discussion group

Modules are taught by the school and the Nottingham ERSC Doctoral Training Centre, and are delivered as seminars. Seminars may include small-group discussions and presentations, based on preliminary reading.

All modules, whatever the format of the teaching, involve discussion of key issues and problems, and analysis of case study material. 

How you will be assessed

  • Dissertation
  • Examinations
  • Essay
  • Coursework

You will be assessed through the programme by a combination of coursework, examinations and dissertation.

Contact time and study hours

You will typically have one weekly two-hour seminar for each module, over a 10-week teaching semester. Most students take three or four modules each semester. Depending on its credit weighting, each module represents 100-200 hours of work (of which approximately 20 hours will be taught).

In addition to the taught seminars, you will also have the opportunity for individual discussions with your personal tutor and/or the programme director, as well as your dissertation supervisor.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject in the arts, humanities, or social sciences

Applying

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

All listed fees are per year of study.

Qualification MA
Home / UK £11,050
International £21,000

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

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. Our libraries also have an excellent range of free electronic books and journals that you can download.

Funding

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

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.

Career progression

90.5% of postgraduates from the School of Law secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £27,658.*

The University of Nottingham’s law graduates are the 6th most highly paid in the UK above King’s College London and University College London.**

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.
** Chambers Student law firms preferred universities study 2019.

Our faculty work placements and internship programme provides valuable work experience, self-confidence and a practical application of your studies.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates

Related courses

This content was last updated on Wednesday 13 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.