Postgraduate study
Providing broad-based training in social science research, this course will equip you with the skills to manage a successful research career and contribute to wider society in a number of ways.
 
  
Qualification
MA Social Science Research (Social Policy and Social Work)
Duration
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject in the arts, humanities, or social sciences
IELTS
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
September
UK/EU fees
£8,235 - Terms apply
International fees
£17,910 - Terms apply
Campus
University Park
School/department
 

 

Overview

It is part of the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership, which recognises the importance of bringing cutting-edge expert knowledge to the heart of doctoral training.

Core modules provide a comprehensive basis to progress to advanced training in research methods. You will be able to undertake advanced subject-specific training in our areas of expertise, providing a wide range of opportunities to deepen and broaden your skills.

Primarily aimed at students following an ESRC-funded pathway onto 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. It will also prepare you for research posts in academic, voluntary, private and third-sector settings.

Key facts

 

Full course details

You will complete 100 credits of core research methods modules, plus 20 credits of advanced research methods or subject-specific training, and a 60-credit dissertation. You will be assigned an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.

Assessment

Each module is individually assessed, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate a range of research skills including critical analysis, report writing, group work, verbal presentations and project development and completion.

 
 

Modules

Core modules

Philosophy of Social Science Research

The course 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.

 
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 an intermediate level. The lecture component of the module will explore a variety of the most commonly used statistical methods; in the laboratory component, you will learn to apply these techniques to the analysis of social science data.

Through assignments, you will have the opportunity to develop and test your own hypotheses and explanations on major research data sets. The module should provide a sound grasp of the possibilities, methods, and dangers inherent in quantitative social science research.

 
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.

 
Dissertation

You will complete a 60-credit 15,000-word dissertation. You will be assigned an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.

 

One of:

Investigating Social Policy (Social Policy pathway)

The module will examine the 'flow' of policy making from inception to implementation. The first part of the module will explore various theories of policy making at different levels and will take the form of a seminar with previous set readings. The latter part of the module will be related to recent or current research undertaken by central or local government in the UK, or Europe, though examples may also come from other countries.

Attempts will be made, where possible, to include evidence from recent or current research undertaken in the school. You will be provided with a guide to paper and web-based materials giving details about the policy, the academic and policy analysis and commentary anticipating and following the policy, and research data, both qualitative and quantitative, generated in the field through attempts to evaluate the policy and its context.

 
Contemporary Issues and Debates in Social Work (Social Work pathway)

This module examines the nature of contemporary debates and issues in social work by focusing on the nature of knowledge in social work and some of the main social theories which conceptualise social work and its relationship to the state, society and the individual.

You will be able to understand how different theoretical approaches provide different ways of thinking about the nature of social work in advanced modern societies and their implications for social work practice. 

The debates covered will include:

  • how to protect children and vulnerable adults
  • personalisation and adult care
  • the role of research in social work and evidence-based practice
  • reflexivity
  • structure/agency, power and inequalities
  • risk and the bureaucratisation of social work
 

Optional modules

You will choose 20 credits of optional modules from the school or advanced research methods.

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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.

 
 

Fees and funding

This course forms the '1' component of a 1+3 ESRC-funded scholarship with the Midlands Graduate School. It will equip you with the research methods training needed to apply for +3 study on the social policy and social work pathway.

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide. Further information is available on the school website.

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.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international 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 your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.

 
 

Careers and professional development

With a clear grasp of the ethical and political issues which arise in social science research, you will be equipped to pursue a range of careers. This could include research and managerial roles in private, public, and third sector organisations, non-governmental organisations, academia, civil service and journalism.

This course provides an excellent route into further academic study and many of our students go on to complete doctoral research before pursuing an academic career.

Our graduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. Studying at postgraduate level can give you a head start in the job market by helping you to gain new knowledge and develop vital skills.

Employability and average starting salary

96.3% of postgraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £27,900 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £31,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

 
 
 

Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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