Social Research Methods MSc

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Social Sciences
  • Study Mode: Full Time

Social research methods are a means of providing evidence to examine ideas about society - they are a way of 'knowing'. This course seeks to introduce you to a portfolio of research skills that will help you not only to become a competent researcher but also to expand your employment horizons.

Why study this course at Dundee?

Social research methods are important not just to social scientists wishing to study a particular problem or to test a theory in a way that is be considered rigorous. They are also fundamental tools of value to government, service providers and to business. You will be gain skills in a diverse range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, taught by research active staff in Geography. What makes the University of Dundee distinctive is its emphasis on the application of research to understand and tackle ‘real world’ problems. Throughout the MSc Social Research Methods you will engage with ‘live’ research issues and external organisations. Our students go on to gain employment in government, research organisations and business; some take their studies further, undertaking a PhD.

The aims of the MSc/Diploma programme in Social Research Methods are:

  • to advance your knowledge and understanding of the nature of research in social science
  • to enhance your skills in areas that will equip you as a social scientist for employment in a government, business or a public policy environment as well as in an academic context

Specialism in population and welfare

The MSc in Social Research Methods offers a specialism in population and welfare issues under the title MSc Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare). This option is an accredited course for the ESRC Population Investigation Council funding. This specialism is particularly relevant for students interested in demographic and welfare issues.

What is so good about this course?

The staff teaching the MSc in Social Research Methods course have wide experience of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and have deployed these skills not only to pursue frontline research in social science, but also as expert advisers to governments and as consultants to local, national and international organisations.

This course emphasises that it is important not only to understand how to use a particular research tool, but also to consider the wider meanings of how knowledge can be constructed in different ways and for diverse range of purposes. One particular feature of the course is the comprehensive and in-depth coverage of a variety of research methods including ethnographic and participatory tools; the analysis of large datasets plus GIS skills. The course seeks to encourage students to think critically not only about the methods they use, but also to reflect on the limitations of what is knowable from the evidence presented by others.

Social Research Methods (MSc)

Social Research Methods (MSc) - gain a portfolio of research skills
and expand your employment horizons

Who should study this course?

This course is for students with a completed undergraduate degree looking to develop their knowledge and skills in the area of social research, and who are seeking employment in a range of sectors, or further study for a PhD in Geography or another social science.

Megan Clark

Evaluation and Research Intern, Skills Development Scotland

“The MSc Social Research Methods course provided me with an excellent opportunity to develop a wide range of highly transferable research and analytical skills, both quantitative and qualitative. This course also encouraged me to think critically and engage with various academic theories and concepts to develop a deeper appreciation of societal issues and themes. The skills and knowledge I gained from my MSc have been extremely relevant and useful in my current role as a graduate evaluation and research intern with Skills Development Scotland. For anyone considering this MSc it provides a great mix of skills and qualities that are highly attractive to many employers, and also offers an ideal grounding for those wishing to pursue PhD study”.

Degree Combinations

  • Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare) MSc

How you will be taught

Modules start at the beginning of the academic session in September and are taught by lectures and tutorials, plus independent and group study. Throughout there is an emphasis on student participation and class discussion. From September 2014 a new optional module ‘Research in Practice’ involves students undertaking a work placement with a local organisation which uses social research, for example a local authority or charity.

How you will be assessed

The course is assessed by coursework (essays, practical classes, projects), examination and dissertation (for Masters students).

What you will study

There are core modules in:

  • Research Training
  • Social Theory
  • Quantitative Methods in Social Research
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Research

Plus students choose one from:

  • Research in Practice (work placement)
  • Applied GIS and Geospatial Data Analysis
  • Population Vulnerability and Resilience


For students following the MSc Social Research Methods (Population and Welfare) route, ‘Social Impacts on Population’ is a core module, and ‘Qualitative Methods in Social Research’ is an option module.

Students enrolled on the MSc programme also complete a dissertation.

The course seeks to offer students a wide range of skills suitable for entry into careers as information officers and analysts, research assistants and geographical system experts working in a business or government environment. The course is recognised by the ESRC as providing the necessary research skills to go on and study for a PhD. Many of our past students have completed PhDs and now work in universities or other research organisations. 

Research by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) shows that the demand for Social Science Masters students with quantitative research skills far outstrips supply. This degree programme course has strong emphasis in this area, but the optional modules allow you to tailor the course to your personal career ambitions.

Previous students have gone on to work for local authority planning departments, the General Registrars Office Scotland (census office), GIS analysts for Tayside Police, ONS social analysis unit, and also as research assistants within the University sector.

Marisol Lopez

During the course of MSc Social Research Methods, I enhanced my knowledge of statistical software, learned about new qualitative research methods, and improved my research skills.

Most importantly, I learned that I would like to continue on the path of academia.

Therefore I chose to do my PhD in Human Geography at the University of Dundee.

Marisol Lopez
Graduate 2015

Claudine Davison

My strong interest in research is regarding social inclusion and wellbeing, and the MSc at Dundee provides the research skills which guide you in completing your own solo piece of work which is of interest to you, and that you can be confident in.

Practical experiences such as field trips on resilience, networking opportunities when completing the dissertation module, or learning GIS skills to share visual outputs of information, are just a few things which made the course so useful for graduate employment.

It has helped boost my current position in my job, assisting with disability services and IT technology, and also has provided a great platform to continue onto PhD research.

Claudine Davison
Graduate 2015

Year of Entry: 2016

You should have, or expect to have, a first degree in geography or a cognate social science such as economics, planning, sociology or social work. Students are expected to have already achieved a good second class honours degree, or an equivalent standard where students have studied abroad

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee statusFees for students starting 2016/17
Scottish, Rest of UK and EU students £4,500 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Please read the Postgraduate "How to Apply" section for information on how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.

Apply online via UKPASS

Course Contact

Dr Edward Hall
Social Sciences
+44 (0)1382 388073