Educational Research

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MRes


This innovative course prepares you for doctoral studies and a career in Educational Research through a series of taught modules and a dissertation. Under the expert guidance of a team of leading academics you will learn the skills of research, from conception through to design, methodology and data collection, to analysis, interpretation and dissemination. As part of the course you will engage closely with cutting edge research projects currently being undertaken by the School of Education. 


The course has been recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as meeting its requirements for postgraduate research training, and it now forms part of the recognised pathway in educational research for the Scottish Graduate School in the Social Sciences.

ESRC logo

Key information

  • Degree type: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MRes
  • Study methods: Full-time, Part-time, Mixture of online and classroom delivery
  • Duration: Full-time: 12 months Part-time: 27 months
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Dr G Mannion
  • Location: Stirling Campus

Janet McCurdie School of Education
University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467937

View fees and finance

Course objectives

The MRes is designed to equip you for a career in educational research or as preparation for doctoral study (as a 1 + 3 route to PhD). You will develop a range of research skills and will engage closely with current research projects in Education.

The course will offer you:

  • A structured taught course in educational research
  • Excellent preparation for doctoral studies by research
  • First-hand experience of current research projects in the School of Education
  • The award of a Master’s degree
  • A course recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The School of Education is committed to developing capable educational researchers as well as enabling you to improve your career prospects, employability is an important focus of this course. We aim to:

  • Recruit people with a good degree in social sciences
  • Enable you to undertake collaborative tasks and assignments
  • Enable you to successfully undertake a viable research project, relevant to existing interests in Education, and to fulfil your aims and aspirations for your future doctoral studies or work

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

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

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

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 English language requirements

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.


2016/17 Overseas £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU £4,500
2015/16 Overseas £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU £4,500


You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

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Scholarships & funding

For information on possible sources of funding, visit:

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Autumn Semester

EDRP001 The Nature of Educational Enquiry Core module (20 credits at SCQF level 11)
Drawing upon specific research projects and debates, this module will introduce you to the differing ways of conceptualising the purposes of education, and the theories informing knowledge claims in research. It will enable you 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.
ASRP002 Research Design and Process Core module (20 credits at SCQF level 11)
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.
ASRP004 Quantitative Data Analysis Core module (20 credits at SCQF level 11)
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.

Spring Semester 

ASRP001: The Nature of Social Enquiry Core module (20 credits at SCQF level 11)
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. The module will examine critically the connection between the epistemological claims made by these perspectives and the methodological possibilities they offer.
ASRP005: Qualitative Data Analysis Core module (20 credits at SCQF level 11)
This module forms a core element of the above Masters’ programmes that widens our approach to social science research training. This module is designed to bring students from different disciplines together to enhance the range of learning possibilities and promote a greater diversity of input.

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).

EDRP002: Theory & Methods of Digital Social Research Core module (20 credits at SCQF level 11)
The aim of this module is to enable participants to develop theoretically and critically informed digital research practices through the study of theories of digital social research, understanding of contemporary digital research practices and issues, and the application of digital research methods through the collaborative creation of digital artefacts. Enhanced knowledge and development of digital research fluencies will be emphasized, enabling students to conduct digital research to contribute to new knowledge in professional or academic contexts.

Can exit with a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits)

EDRP004 Dissertation Core module (60 credits at SCQF level 11)
 15,000 words

Exit with an MSc (180 credits)

Delivery and assessment

The course is designed to meet the Economic and Social Research Council’s requirements for broad knowledge, practical skills and both generic and specific competencies in educational research.

It comprises taught modules and a dissertation. The taught modules are delivered by the Schools of Education, and Applied Social Science. 

Summative assessment for modules will be based on coursework and will be assessed through assignments approximately 3000 words in. length.


Students will be required to conduct a small piece of educational research and write this up as a 15,000-word dissertation to be completed during May to September (May to December for part-time students).

Modes of study

Full-time: 12 months 9 months 4 months
Part-time: 27 months 21 months 16 months

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

Programme of study - Full-time (12 months)
Autumn EDRP001 ASRP002 ASRP004
Spring EDRP002 ASRP001 ASRP005
Summer EDRP003


For the award of the Postgraduate Certificate, students must complete EDRP001, ASRP002, ASRP004.

For the award of the Postgraduate Diploma, students must complete EDRP001, ASRP002, ASRP004, EDRP002, ASRP001, ASRP005

For the award of the MSc, students must complete all modules and a dissertation of 15,000 words


The expected period of study for each module is 200 hours, with an approximate amount of 20 hours face-to-face teaching time.

Why Stirling?


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 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, the School of Education had the highest quality of research outputs of any Scottish University, with 100% of research impact activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


The School of Education regularly features as one of the highest ranking Education course providers in the United Kingdom, with a consistent showing across all ranking tables. Displaying our commitment to achieve a high level of; Satisfaction with Course, Satisfaction with teaching, Satisfaction with Assessment Feedback, Student/ Staff Ratio, Value Added, Career after 6 months, and research in Education. In the most recent study by QS, staff from the University of Stirling received 5 out of 5 star rating for teaching

Currently, the School ranks as: 4th in the UK, The Times Good University Guide, 2015; 8th in the UK, The Independent Complete University Guide, 2016; 14th in the UK, The Guardian University Guide, 2016; within the top 50 in Europe, QS Top Universities.

Our students

Bethan Mitchell- Master of ResearchBethan Mitchell
Educational Research graduate

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course? 

When I finished my first Masters degree (Management Learning and Leadership) I was very keen on exploring workplace and professional learning further. I was particularly interested in Actor-Network Theory and had attended a conference at Stirling University where this was discussed widely. 

What attracted you to Stirling? 

The conference content was dynamic and aligned with my interests, which indicated that Stirling University would be the best place for me to study. The other important reason was that Professor Tara Fenwick works here and she was my first choice of supervisor. 

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University? 

For my Masters in Research Methods, I enjoyed the placement most. It was an excellent opportunity to go into the workplace specifically to conduct research. I presented my work at the Doctoral Conference and displayed and presented a poster at the ProPEL conference. It was a valuable and rewarding experience that I will draw on for my research degree. 

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most? 

I enjoyed the workshops that were provided for the PhD students. These were a great combination of theory and discussion, and got us reading (and talking) about key theories in education research that we might otherwise not have come across.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling? 

My Masters in Research Methods will help me if I seek work as a researcher. It also gave me a good grounding for the PhD; even though I already had a Masters degree, the MRes developed specific skills and knowledge. For example, the course covered NVivo (computer software for qualitative research), quantitative methods (STATA), and qualitative methods such as interviews, discourse analysis and analysing data. Not all of these are directly relevant to my PhD, but it is very useful to know and I may draw on these in the future. I would encourage students who are thinking of going into research to undertake this course.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling? 

Come and enjoy studying in a beautiful place! When you need to study there’s a great library, and when you need to think, there are lots of lovely walks. 

How would you summarise your time at Stirling? 

Hard work but rewarding, and I still have lots of hard work to come with the PhD. At least I can do this in lovely surroundings with the support of brilliant staff. 

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now? 

PhD in Education Research at Stirling 

Our staff

Picture of Greg Mannion

Greg Mannion, Programme Director

This masters in research is ideal for those looking to develop their understanding of the role of research in educational settings of all kinds and provides an excellent precursor to the EdD pathway. This programme is designed to assist those working in education and training in all kinds of professional settings who wish to learn how to understand, design, enact and employ cutting edge educational research to create desired impacts.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The MRes in Education Research is designed to enhance the career prospects of researchers in education, training and related areas of work, and professionals requiring the capacity to understand and commission research in these fields. It is essential preparation for doctoral research in education and is recognised by Economic and Social Research Council as meeting its criteria for postgraduate research training that helps students improve their employability while acquiring core research skills. Employability is an important focus of this course, with the opportunity for a research placement offered to all MRes students.

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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