Postgraduate Course

MA Sociological Research Methods

MA Sociological Research Methods

Overview

The details
Sociological Research Methods
October 2018
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus
Sociology

Discover how to turn raw data into useful information which can tell us about how people work. You learn how to gain an understanding of society through carrying out case studies, surveys, and observational research.

Our MA Sociological Research provides a strong foundation in doing empirical research, encompassing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. We offer you advanced study of research design and of specific research techniques and their evaluation. In the process you also acquire a critical appreciation of empirical research methodology.

Graduates of this course will understand the connection between theory and empirical methodology, and be able to produce, evaluate and effectively communicate research findings. You explore topics including:

  • Debates in contemporary social theory
  • The theory and methods of qualitative interviewing
  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Sociological research design

This is a broad-based research training which is indispensable if you wish to proceed to a PhD. This course has ESRC Doctoral Training Centre accreditation, which means that it can form part of a 1+3 funding opportunity worth up to £21,575 for talented postgraduates.

Our Department of Sociology was rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014).

Why we're great.
  • We offer broad-based research training which is vital for those wishing to proceed to a PhD
  • We have committed staff who teach, research and publish across a wide geographical spectrum
  • We are ranked top 10 in the UK for research quality with high scores for student satisfaction

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 offers 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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:1 or equivalent in a social science subject.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent or a non-social sciences degree will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here.Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0

Structure

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.

You choose between these two modules: Text and Documents or Ethnography. You do not take both.

Introduction to Quantitative Analysis

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.

View Introduction to Quantitative Analysis on our Module Directory

Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis

What are the different approaches to qualitative data analysis? And when should qualitative interviews be used? Learn about the qualitative research process, including design, selection of interview subjects and analysis, so that you are equipped to tackle your own qualitative research in the future.

View Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis on our Module Directory

Topics in Contemporary Social Theory

What is the significance of 'the de-centring of the subject'? What problems does the materiality of the body pose for sociology? Do claims for objectivity now make any sense at all? Gain an understanding of the significant debates in contemporary social theory, while learning to think analytically about theoretical questions.

View Topics in Contemporary Social Theory on our Module Directory

Sociological Research Design

How do you design social research for projects? Examine the research process, from forming initial research questions through to writing up your findings. Develop your own research ideas via the approaches discussed, building a critical perspective on empirical research that will help you with future research goals.

View Sociological Research Design on our Module Directory

Dissertation

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.

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

Consumption, political economy and sustainability (optional)

Does shopping change the world? Can you make a difference by choosing more sustainable options as a consumer? These are key questions that you will be able to answer after completing this module. Examine the systems through which many of the everyday goods you enjoy are produced, circulated and consumed, explore how commodities are provisioned within a global society, and consider the possibilities and complexities of transitioning towards a more sustainable market.

View Consumption, political economy and sustainability (optional) on our Module Directory

Digital Economy (optional)

Do hackers have ethics? Who owns digital media? Is surveillance justified? Explore the history of the digital media economy, looking at hacking, digital media piracy and peer-to-peer networks. Build your understanding of the social, economic and cultural role that digital media now plays in developed Western societies.

View Digital Economy (optional) on our Module Directory

Media Theory (optional)

Who are the key thinkers regarding the media? How did the modern media developed? And what role does it play in regulating society? In discussion-oriented classes, examine the relationship between society and media technology, analyse the economic and social organisation, and study ethics and regulation of our modern media.

View Media Theory (optional) on our Module Directory

Advertising: Commerce and Creativity (optional)

How has advertising tried to understand the consumer? What challenges are posed by international advertising? Or by the arrival of new media and alternative delivery systems? Explore the history of advertising in Britain and North America, then learn how to analyse and theorise about advertising and the wider creative industries.

View Advertising: Commerce and Creativity (optional) on our Module Directory

Dynamics of Home and Work (optional)

How are work and home life organised differently across the globe? Does gender add to this? Can we challenge our traditional understandings of work and home? As work helps to define your identity, explore the nature of both formal and informal work, using case studies from around the world.

View Dynamics of Home and Work (optional) on our Module Directory

Formative Debates in Criminology (optional)

How do we challenge our conventional understanding of crime? And what can we do about this? Examine the history of criminology and learn about the contemporary debates. Study topics like criminalisation, social deviance, and surveillance and punishment. Look ahead with analysis of new work by leading authors in the field.

View Formative Debates in Criminology (optional) on our Module Directory

Organised Crime: Global and Local (optional)

What do we mean when we talk about organised crime? And how is this used as a tool for governance? Explore landmark studies and emerging horizons in the field of organised crime studies. Gain an understanding of the social, political, media, cultural and ideological topics related to organised crime.

View Organised Crime: Global and Local (optional) on our Module Directory

Critical Perspectives on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (optional)

Is one man’s terrorist another’s freedom fighter? Go beyond that debate to really challenge your understanding of terrorism. Learn how to define and analyse terrorism. Examine themes on dimensions of terrorism, including political, animal rights and religious extremism. Explore counter terrorism, covering topics like surveillance, policing and the law.As part of this module you have the opportunity to visit the Counter Terrorism Headquarter in London for our annual optional field trip. You will be required to pay any associated travel costs if you choose to attend.

View Critical Perspectives on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (optional) on our Module Directory

Current Controversies in Criminology (optional)

How do we understand crime in our increasingly globalised world? And what about forms of control and criminal justice policy? Critically examine criminological thought on globalisation, migration, policy convergence, punishment, and crimes against the state.

View Current Controversies in Criminology (optional) on our Module Directory

Capitalism, Slavery and Race in the Americas 1492 to 2016 (optional)
Colonialism, Cultural Diversity and Human Rights (optional)

How has colonialism created human rights problems, now and in the past? And what part did mandates for free markets, industrialism and state sovereignty play? Study thinkers like Cesaire, Fanon, Arendt, Agamben and Taussig. Discuss specific international situations like Palestine, forced removal of Aboriginal children and the war on terror.

View Colonialism, Cultural Diversity and Human Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

Advanced Quantitative Analysis: Models for Cause and Effect (optional)

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.

View Advanced Quantitative Analysis: Models for Cause and Effect (optional) on our Module Directory

Introduction to Survey Design and Management (optional)

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. As part of this module, you're required to undertake a 10-day work placement. If you're placement is in London, your travel costs will be paid for by the company. Outside of London, you may incur associated travel costs.

View Introduction to Survey Design and Management (optional) on our Module Directory

Survey Sampling, Non-Response and Inference (optional)

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.

View Survey Sampling, Non-Response and Inference (optional) on our Module Directory

Survey Measurement and Question Design (optional)

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.

View Survey Measurement and Question Design (optional) on our Module Directory

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

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£7,560

International fee

£16,750

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold 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.

2018 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018
  • Saturday, October 27, 2018

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.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

We want you to throw yourself in at the deep end, soak up life and make the most of those special Essex moments.

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

 

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.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of 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. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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