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MSc Survey Methods for Social Research

Why we're great

  • We offer opportunities to undertake a short work placement within a professional research organisation
  • We are one of only 21 ESRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK
  • We are ranked top 10 in the UK for research quality with high scores for student satisfaction

Course options2016-17

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Sociology
Fee (Home/EU): £5,950
Fee (International): £15,500

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Sociology
Fee (Home/EU): £2,975
Fee (International): £7,750

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

What methods are used to discover how people behave, what they believe and what opinions they hold? What sort of sampling techniques are needed to access different types of population? What is the best way to design a questionnaire?

Our MSc Survey Methods for Social Research will provide answers to these questions and more, preparing you for a professional career in social, academic or market research. Central to our course is an emphasis on practical learning and experience, so you undertake a short work placement in one of a number of professional research organisations.

You explore topics including:

  • Sampling
  • Questionnaire design
  • Analysis of survey data
  • Management of the survey process

This course has ESRC Doctoral Training Centre accreditation, meaning it can form part of a 1+3 funding opportunity worth up to £18,000 for talented postgraduates. Our University is one of only 21 ESRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK.

Our Department of Sociology was rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and we consistently receive strong student satisfaction scores, including 96% overall student satisfaction in 2015.

“I studied my undergraduate degree at Essex, and the Department of Sociology is excellent for research, so I was very happy to continue my studies here. Being an ESRC-funded student has offered a range of opportunities to me, and I would definitely recommend undertaking research into funding and scholarships. Essex offers a range of scholarships and is very keen to support its postgraduate students.”

Natasha Crawford, BA Politics and Sociology 2011, MSc Survey Methods for Social Research

Our expert staff

We are a large and friendly department, offering a diverse range of research interests and with staff members who are committed to teaching, research and publication that covers a broad geographical spectrum.

Many have worked at the local level with local authorities, justice councils, community partnerships and charities. Others have worked at a national and international level with bodies like the United Nations, the European Commission’s Expert Group on Public Understanding of Science, Amnesty International, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Home Office and national non-governmental organisations.

Specialist facilities

  • Dedicated postgraduate support facilities
  • Our renowned off-campus Graduate Conference takes place every February
  • A unique Student Resource Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students’ work, and attend workshops on research skills
  • The Sociology common room is open all day Monday-Friday, is stocked with daily newspapers, magazines and journals, and has free drinks available
  • Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
  • Our students’ Sociology Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates

Your future

This course is invaluable training if you seek future employment in a wide range of social research occupations. You will develop key employability skills including; thinking analytically, research design, essay writing, quantitative and qualitative data analysis and interviewing skills.

You are provided with excellent preparation for further academic study, and many of our postgraduates go on to successful academic careers, both in the UK and overseas.

Others have established careers in non-governmental organisations, local authorities, specialist think tanks, government departments, charities, media production, and market intelligence.

We work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

How do you critically analyse quantitative data? What are the appropriate statistical techniques for your research questions? And how do you interpret your results? Learn to conduct investigations relevant to your own research, as well as be a critical user of other research.

How do you interpret studies using panel data? What are the various approaches to panel data analysis? And can you analyse the same data using different methods? Gain the knowledge and confidence to manipulate panel data sets, while developing practical skills in selecting and conducting panel data analysis.

What are the principles of modern survey design? And what is best practice? Explore the fundamentals of survey design and the concept of survey error. Analyse different types of design and modes of data collection, drawing on real-life examples. Build the transferable study skills required to conduct professional surveys.

How do you deal with sampling error? What problems arise from non-response errors? And can you reduce such errors? Examine methods for mitigating non-responses errors and understand the key issues in managing data and survey processes, while gaining practical experience of designing samples.

Wish to design questionnaires? Build your theoretical knowledge and the practical tools to develop and write survey questions, and to construct questionnaires. Apply your understanding to the development of your questionnaire and implementation materials. Receive feedback on your questionnaire design.

What interests you? Do you want to deepen your knowledge, build invaluable research skills and develop your academic freedom? Your dissertation lets you study a topic of your choosing, in depth, with supervision and guidance from our world-leading academics.

How do coverage and nonresponse errors arise in surveys? And what impact do they have on your estimates? Improve your understanding of coverage and nonresponse in surveys. Study practical methods to deal with the problems that come from this. Apply estimation procedures that correctly incorporate adjustments for such errors.

Teaching

  • We have a strong research group culture
  • Graduate students are encouraged to take part in our weekly Departmental Seminar which regularly features eminent outside speakers

Assessment

  • Your modules are assessed by coursework and your dissertation

Dissertation

  • Your 15,000-word dissertation allows you to focus in-depth on your chosen topic from April onwards
  • You work with close supervision from academic staff

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall 2:1.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.