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MRes / MSc Applied Social Research

Gain vital skills for a career in Applied Social Research and graduate with an MRes accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Applied Social Research

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Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Masters / MRes, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Start date September or January
  • Duration MRes / MSc full-time: 12 months, MRes / MSc part-time: 30 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based
  • Accreditations Economic and Social Research Council

Our flexible Master of Research degree provides you with the core skills you need to carry out robust social research, with the opportunity to choose your own areas of specialism.

You’ll gain the contemporary knowledge you need to collect, analyse and report qualitative and quantitative data, understand social behaviour and critically examine the theoretical foundations that underpin social scientific research. The course also offers a wide range of optional modules to choose from – refining your research abilities in the areas you’re most passionate about.

Through your studies, you’ll open up a wealth of opportunities in social research-related careers or pave the way to conducting a PhD. The opportunities after graduating are as diverse as your interests, and fully funded places are available on the course through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which has approved our MRes Applied Social Research as meeting its rigorous requirements for postgraduate research training.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    The objective of our MRes Applied Social Research is to provide you with the skills and knowledge required to collect, analyse and report qualitative and quantitative data, taking account of ethics, reliability and validity. Your studies will enable you to:

    • critically examine the theoretical foundations that underpin social scientific research
    • examine issues concerning comparative social research
    • develop your understanding of the relationship between research and policy, and the meanings of evaluation, its terminology, practice and use
    • tailor your programme with a choice of further research-based modules
  • Professional accreditations

    The course is recognised as research training by the ESRC for those who are studying or going on to study for a PhD (+3) or (1+3). Find out more about ESRC funding eligibility.

  • Flexible learning

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Research

    When you study Applied Social Research at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to leading-edge empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment.

    Underscoring the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF 2014) – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, highlights included:

    • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be 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
    • we were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK
  • 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 or above
    • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B or above
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

    More information on our English language requirements

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

The MRes/Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Research comprises four compulsory taught core modules, plus two other optional modules, and (for the MRes) a dissertation.

Full-time: One year, four/five modules per semester
Part-time: Two and a half years, two modules per semester


The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2018/19 on this course of study.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Teaching methods are designed for each module to help you develop new skills and make continuous progress. You’re expected to participate in lectures, seminars, tutorials, computer-based workshops and group work.

  • Assessment

    Whether you’re a full-time or part-time MRes/Diploma student, you’ll experience a range of different forms of assessment across the taught modules. These include essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, presentations, a computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis and the research dissertation. There are no examinations.

  • Classroom hours

    Teaching on this course generally takes place all day on a Friday, but certain modules may be taught on other days.

  • Course director
  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)

      2018/19 2019/20

    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.

    £4,700 £5,500

    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.

    £13,650 £14,300

    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding

    Fully funded places are available on this course through the ESRC. Read more details on the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science website.

    Other sources of funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support. .

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

Employability is a key focus of our MRes Applied Social Research. Former graduates have entered social research-related careers in the public, voluntary and private sectors. Their roles have included commissioning research for local authorities, working on university research projects, and conducting research for charities and voluntary organisations. Other graduates have chosen to continue their studies and undertake a PhD or Doctorate. The course is also suitable if you want to enhance your research practice in a current post.

  • Gain research skills relevant to the public, private or voluntary sectors
  • Use your MRes as a springboard to a Doctorate or PhD
  • Tailor your studies to match your professional aspirations
Completing the Applied Social Research MRes has opened doors for me, as I now have the skillset to pursue a career in social research.
Jennifer Ferguson
Scotland Applied Social Research MRes
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