Methods of Social Research MA

Location: Canterbury

This MA programme at Kent exposes students to a wide range of thinking and approaches in social science research presented in a multi-disciplinary context and at an advanced level.

The focus of the programme is on developing practical skills in data collection, in data analysis and interpretation, and in the presentation of research findings so that students gain insight into the research process from design to the production of new knowledge.

More generally students will broaden their understanding of the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues that matter in research, and will become aware of debates about the relationship between theory and research and between research and policy/practice.


One year full-time, two years part-time

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the theoretical basis for social science research
  • ethical and methodological issues in social science research
  • the strengths and weaknesses of different epistemological approaches used within the social sciences
  • common research techniques used in social science research
  • sources of secondary data and how to access them
  • the common statistical techniques used within social science research
  • the political and policy contexts within which research takes place
  • the reflexivity of research in the social sciences.

Intellectual Skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to identify research questions and hypotheses
  • the ability to select a research design appropriate to the questions being asked
  • the ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different research techniques.
  • the ability to plan and develop a research proposal
  • the ability to combine quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • the ability to criticise other research studies and the methods used in them
  • the ability to present results in ways which contribute to knowledge in that field.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to identify research questions and hypotheses
  • the ability to choose research methods appropriate to the research question.
  • a familiarity with the ethical issues involved in research and with ethics application guidelines
  • the ability to choose a valid sample from the population of interest
  • the ability to design and produce questionnaires and other data collection instruments
  • the ability to use participant observation and focus groups in research
  • the ability to use comparative and longitudinal approaches
  • the ability to make use of existing library and documentary material
  • the ability to access the UK Data Archive and make use of survey data from that source
  • the ability to record, store and present quantitative data using SPSS
  • the ability to use statistical techniques appropriately and critically to support your research
  • the ability to evaluate the use of basic statistical methods in the research literature
  • the ability to plan and carry out structured and semi-structured interviews
  • the ability to analyse qualitative data from interviews, focus groups and other sources
  • the ability to analyse observational and life history data
  • the ability to analyse textual data and documentary sources
  • the use of computer-assisted packages for data handling
  • preparing research results for publication and dissemination.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • managing your own time, prioritising workloads and recognising and managing stress
  • using problem-solving skills in a variety of different situations
  • the ability to take responsibility for your own learning and professional development
  • the ability to communicate with a wide range of audiences in written and oral media
  • the ability to use ICT to access information, process data and text, communicate with others and present research results effectively
  • an understanding of the career opportunities in your own fields and beginning to plan for your future.

This programme aims to:

  • provide appropriate methods training for students preparing an MA dissertation or MPhil/DPhil theses, or for students going on to employment involving the use of social science research
  • introduce you to a variety of different approaches to social science research, presented in a multidisciplinary context
  • cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating these into practicable research designs
  • make you aware of the range of secondary data available and equip you to evaluate their utility for research
  • develop skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary context
  • introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and the debates about the relationship between theory and research, the problems of evidence and inference, and the limits of objectivity
  • develop skills in the use of SPSS and other statistical techniques of data analysis, including multivariate analysis
  • develop skills in writing, the preparation of a research proposal, the presentation of research results, and verbal communication
  • help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, such as seminar papers, conference presentations, reports and publications to a range of audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users and the general public
  • give you an appreciation of the potential and problems of social research in local, regional, national and international settings.
MA Award
Full-time Study Mode
12 months Duration

Entry Requirements For This Course

A good honours degree in a relevant subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider applicants who have not followed a conventional education path and these cases are assessed individually.

Please also see our general entry requirements at:

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