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

Gain a portfolio of research skills and expand your employment horizons.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

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.

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 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

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 and the analysis of large datasets. 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.

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”.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

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. A recently introduced 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.

What you will study

There are core modules in:

This module is taken by all students doing MSc Social Research Methods and MSc Sustainability, giving you the opportunity to meet and study alongside students from across the School. It is designed to provide you with generic research training, developing a mixture of ‘everyday’ skills, alongside specific content and training in preparation for your MSc Dissertation project (see GE50009).

The module, therefore, aims to build and develop key practical skills relating to planning, undertaking and communicating research, with specific training in effective project planning at the masters level.

Social science theory is a core component of undertaking empirical research. In this module, we will explore how theoretical approaches to the social world have influenced and guided the subsequent research, and what this can tell us about our ‘knowledge’ of the world around us. We will also explore examples of research from staff and how theory has guided these projects, as well as been developed from them.

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with an overview of the intellectual history of social science research
  • To develop students’ abilities to evaluate how social science knowledge can and should be ‘applied’ to contexts outside the academy
  • To examine the relation between concepts in social science and the methodologies used to ‘produce’ this knowledge
  • To develop students’ abilities to evaluate different and competing epistemological, theoretical and philosophical positions
  • To provide students with an understanding of the implications of different philosophical and theoretical for the conduct of empirical research

A considerable amount of social research involves recourse to quantitative data and associated methods for exploring, describing and analysing those data. This module is designed for all learners, including those who may have little or no prior experience of the topic. Central to the module is a strong emphasis on applied data analysis, focussing in particular on the potential to ask questions based on using key sources of UK social data.

In detail, the aims of the module are as follows:

  • To develop students’ abilities and confidence in using core methods for analysing quantitative social data
  • To increase students’ awareness of key sources of quantitative social data, focussing in particular on UK sources, and possibilities for using such sources in social research
  • To examine different views on the contemporary importance of quantitative social research

This module examines a variety of qualitative social research methods in terms of their value to social science and how best to apply them. While quantitative methods are useful for exploring a topic across a broad cohort, qualitative methods tend to be applied to a smaller cohort, but in a much deeper level of analysis. We will examine what types of research questions are best answered through a qualitative approach, what can be learned from these methods and how best to go about doing them. Students will have opportunities to engage in practical work as well as group discussions.


  • To prepare students for undertaking qualitative research and research using questionnaires
  • To provide an advanced level of knowledge of a range of analytic qualitative research methods
  • To enable students to assess the appropriateness of different qualitative methods for their own research projects
  • To develop the skills to design and conduct qualitative research of their own.

Plus students choose two from:

In this module, you will work with an organisation outside the university – in the public, voluntary or private sector – on an agreed research project, to address a specific challenge or knowledge gap in the organisation. The organisation could be the local council, a local charity, an NGO, or a business. By doing the project, you will be able to apply your knowledge to a real issue; develop a range of skills including communication and working in a team; and make a contribution to the organisation and to addressing the identified challenge. The module will put you in a better position to find employment at the end of your course of study and become a more active and responsible citizen.  

Social inequalities are a core feature of society, in the UK and globally. The module examines the concepts of, and evidence for, social difference, social inequality and social exclusion. The module also considers how the notion and actions of social justice can be engaged with to challenge social inequalities.


  • To increase students’ understanding of key theoretical, methodological and empirical bodies of research in the areas of social inequalities and social justice
  • To provide an overview of contemporary academic and policy studies of social inequalities and social justice
  • To develop interpretive, analytic and methodological skills in relation to understandings of social difference, social inequalities, social exclusion and social justice

MSc students 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, and research assistants 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), ONS social analysis unit, and also as research assistants within the University sector.

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

You should have, or expect to have, a first degree. 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

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 2019-20
Scottish and EU students £7,300 per year of study
Rest of UK students £7,300 per year of study
International students (non-EU) £17,275 per year of study
Fee statusFees for students starting 2020-21
Scottish and EU students £7,650 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £7,650 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
International students (non-EU) £18,150 per year of study
See our scholarships for International applicants

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students will increase by no more than 5% per year for the length of your course.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your education at the University over and above tuition fees in an academic year.

Examples of additional costs:

One off costOngoing costIncidental cost
Graduation feeStudio feeField trips

*these are examples only and are not exhaustive.

Additional costs:

  • may be mandatory or optional expenses
  • may be one off, ongoing or incidental charges and certain costs may be payable annually for each year of your programme of study
  • vary depending on your programme of study
  • are payable by you and are non-refundable and non-transferable

Unfortunately, failure to pay additional costs may result in limitations on your student experience.

For additional costs specific to your course please speak to our Enquiry Team.

You apply for this course through our Direct Application System, which is free of charge. You can find out more information about making your application when you click Apply Now below

  Degree Course code
Apply nowSocial Research Methods MScP038023

Course Contact

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