Applied Social Research (Social Statistics and Social Research)

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma


Introduction

This course provides an understanding of social research, with a particular focus on social statistics and quantitative methods. The course includes orientation material on social research methods as a whole, and detailed training on a wide range of statistical methods, with  advanced modules on data management and emerging priority research areas, such as big data and social network analysis.

Teaching covers the theories behind the  methods, and the practical work in using datasets and analysing them with statistical software. Students will gain a variety of highly marketable skills in the areas of social research and social statistics.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a taught postgraduate degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Full-time, Part-time, Campus based
  • Start date:
    Full-time:  September 
    Part-time: September/January


  • Course Director: Dr Dave Griffiths
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download postgraduate prospectus

www.stir.ac.uk/social-sciences/

Faculty of Social Sciences
Colin Bell Building
University of Stirling
Stirling
FK9 4LA

Course objectives

This course provides an understanding of social research, with a particular focus on social statistics and quantitative methods.  The course includes orientation material on social research methods as a whole, and detailed training on a wide range of statistical methods, with advanced modules on data management and emerging priority research areas, such as big data and social network analysis.

Teaching covers the theories behind the methods, and the practical work in using datasets and analysing them with statistical software.  Students will gain a variety of highly marketable skills in the areas of social research and social statistics.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant social science subject.  Applicants without such qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply. 

A willingness to learn advanced statistical methods is more important than a strong background in the area. Basic experience of a statistical software, such as SPSS, Stata, R or Excel is useful but not essential.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to http://www.stir.ac.uk/study-in-the-uk/entry-requirements/english/

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

http://www.intohigher.com/uk/en-gb/our-centres/into-university-of-stirling/studying/our-courses/course-list/pre-sessional-english.aspx

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email graduate.admissions@stir.ac.uk to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs

 

2017/18 Overseas £13,050
2017/18 Home/EU £4,600

 

2018/19 Overseas £13,650
2018/19 Home/EU To be confirmed

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all taught postgraduate courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

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Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Students will undertake four core modules, two option modules and complete a 15,000 word dissertation. In the full time programme, 3 modules are completed during the Autumn semester, 3 in the Spring, and the dissertation submitted in the summer. Module either cover wider topics in social research, or focus on understanding and implementing advanced quantitative methods.

Core modules

  • Research Design and Process
  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Advanced Data Analysis
  • Advanced Data Management
  • Using Big Data in Social Research

Option modules

Students will also select two option modules from a range of applied social research topics. The recommended option is Social Network Analysis.

Other options include The Nature of Social Enquiry, Policy Analysis and Evaluation Research, Qualitative Analysis and Research Methods in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies. Some of these modules will be particularly suitable for students with an interest in mixed methods research.

Delivery and assessment

Modules are generally a combination of lectures and workshops. Teaching largely takes place on Tuesdays, although some components might take place on other days. The contact hours are sympathetic to those working alongside their studies. Most teaching is performed in smaller classes, with group activities. Modules are usually assessed by an examination, software based assignments,  and essays.

Modules

Core modules

ASRP002: Research Design and Process

SCQF level 11, 20 credits

The module takes students through the process of designing a research project. It enables them to think up an interesting research idea, to carry out a literature review, identify appropriate theoretical frameworks, refine the research question and then work out which methods to use. It introduces students to some of the more common research strategies and methods. It invites reflection on the ethics and politics of the research process, and encourages students to think systematically about dissemination of findings, knowledge exchange and research impact. The assessment for the module reinforces what has been learned: it involves thinking up a research topic, refining it into some researchable questions and then writing a proposal for funding.

ASRP003 Introduction to IT and Library Services

No credits given

The module is designed to make you aware of resources concerning Information Technology and Library Services; make you comfortable in the application of certain core IT and Library skills and aware of how to go about extending your knowledge of and confidence in further IT applications and Library Services.

ASRP004: Quantitative Data Analysis 

SCQF level 11, 20 credits
The module introduces quantitative data analysis, covering a selection of those statistical techniques which are most commonly employed in social science research. It also covers practical training in the application of quantitative methods to social science data. The emphasis will be on the analysis of data collected in social surveys, particularly the secondary analysis of large scale surveys.

ASRP026 Advanced Quantitative Methods

SCQF level 11, 20 credits

This module provides training in the application of methods of quantitative data analysis that are relatively advanced in character. Themes covered include advanced issues in regression models; models for categorical outcomes; multilevel models; the analysis of longitudinal data; and the analysis of multi-process systems.

SSSR005 Advanced Data Management 

SCQF level 11, 10 credits

This module aims to provide students who have completed the Diploma in Social Enterprise programme the opportunity to carry out a major research project. With supervision, students are encouraged to use and develop their accumulated skills and their knowledge in conducting their own research project. This may be an academic dissertation, in which students will produce a coherent, well-argued dissertation based on an original piece of social science research. Alternatively, it may be an applied research and design project within their own social enterprise, in which applied research is undertaken to investigate a development opportunity, initiative or problem. 

SSSR007 Using Big Data in Social Research

 SCQF level 11, 10 credits
This module concerns the use of big data as a social science methodology. Students will learn the differences between ‘big data’ and ‘big good data’ and learn to critically engage with the potential for data to provide robust evidence. Training will be provided in analysing social media data, particularly Twitter, through a range of software including R and NodeXL.
SSSR010 Dissertation  SCQF level 11, 60 credits
This module aims to provide students who have completed the Diploma in Applied Social Research programme the opportunity to carry out a major social science research project. With supervision, students are encouraged to use and develop their accumulated research skills and their knowledge of theoretical and methodological work in conducting their own research project. By the end of the module, students will produce a coherent, well-argued dissertation based on their original piece of social science research.

Optional modules

ASRP006: Comparative Social Research

SCQF level 11, 20 credits

This module aims to introduce students to comparative social research methods and to enable students to develop a critical awareness of key methodological considerations throughout the research process.

SSSP001: Social Network Analysis

SCQF level 11, 20 credits

This module examines both the theory and methods of social network analysis (SNA). Students will explore social capital, the consequences of network positions and the increasing awareness of networks. A range of SNA methodologies are covered, including centrality measures, quadratic assignment procedure regression and E-I index. Students will learn various specialist software packages, including UCInet and Pajek.

ASRP001: The Nature of Social Enquiry

SCQF level 11, 20 credits
This module aims to introduce students to the theoretical foundations that underpin social scientific research and analysis. The module begins by examining the main themes and issues within the philosophy of science and social science and then investigates different classical and modern theoretical perspectives for exploring the social world.

ASRP005 Qualitative Data Analysis

SCQF level 11, 20 credits

This module introduces students to qualitative data analysis. It aims to provide them with understanding and experience of conducting the analysis of qualitative data (including visual data), as well as a critical awareness of the role of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct secondary analysis on a qualitative dataset and a critical appreciation of the impact of analysing secondary as well as primary data.

ASRP007: Policy Analysis and Evaluation Research

SCQF level 11, 20 credits

This module explores the relationship between policy and research. It aims to equip students with the intellectual and practical tools needed to analyse policy developments, evaluate evidence of ‘what works’, and appreciate the different approaches to evaluation.

CRMP010: Criminological Perspectives

 SCQF level 11, 20 credits
This module aims to introduce students to the theoretical foundations that underpin criminological research and analysis. As part of the student’s work in preparation for the criminology dissertation, the module begins by examining the epistemological contexts of the main theories within criminology and proceeds throughout the course to investigate through a broad range of classical and modern criminological texts, the historical context of the subject area as a whole.
CRMP020: Research Methods in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies  SCQF level 11, 20 credits
 The module introduces students to the specific challenges involved in conducting research within the main criminal justice agencies, examines key data sources used in criminological and socio-legal research (including the use of law library resources) and provides an understanding of the various ways in which criminological research relates to the development of policy.
EDRP002: Data Collection and Analysis SCQF level 11, 20 credits
Drawing upon specific research projects and debates, this module will introduce students to the differing ways of conceptualising the purposes of education, and the theories informing knowledge claims in research. It will enable students to engage with the different traditions of ideas informing research into education, and their strengths and weaknesses. The module therefore involves a critical examination of different approaches to and traditions in educational research and their underlying assumptions.

 

Modes of study

1 Year (full-time)
Students will take three modules in each the Autumn and Spring semesters, completing their dissertation over the summer. The course runs from September to August each year.

2 Year (part-time)
The course can be taken over two years with students studying 1 or 2 modules per semester.

Why Stirling?

REF2014

In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework:

  • 24% of our overall research activity was assessed to be world-leading.
  • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be internationally excellent or world-leading.
  • 99% of our outputs were assessed to be internationally recognised, internationally excellent or world leading.
  • 100% of research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world leading.
  • 100% of our research impact was assessed as world leading or internationally excellent.
  • The work of more than 90% of our researchers was assessed.
  • We were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK.
  • We ranked 17th overall in the UK and 3rd in Scotland for our research, with a grade point average of 3.01 (out of 4).

The School has attracted considerable sums of external research funding from Research Councils, Government, Independent and Charitable funders, and from the European Commission.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Social statistics are an important area within applied social research, offering employment opportunities within the private, public and voluntary sectors, as well as further study. Students will develop thorough knowledge of  software and learn a range of sought-after technical skills, including accessing, preparing, analysing and summarising complex quantitative datasets. The course is also designed to provide the technical skill set required for further PhD study.

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