MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
This course prepares students for undertaking social research and evaluation, leading to careers in research, research management and commissioning or using research. Our MSc is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the research training guidelines for undertaking a PhD in Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work or Socio-legal Studies, as well as preparing you for an ESRC-recognised interdisciplinary PhD in Families, Relationships and Demographic Change and Social Care. A course on Applied Social Research (Criminology) is also available.
The course is recognised as research training by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for those who are studying or going on to study for a PhD (+3), and is also recognised by the ESRC for Master’s Course plus Research Studentship (1+3) purposes.
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.
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.
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.
INTO University of Stirling offers a Graduate Diploma for those students who do not meet the required criteria for this course. If you successfully complete the Graduate Diploma in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences and meet the required progression grades, you will be guaranteed entry onto year one of this Masters degree.
If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
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.
If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your course of study.
Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.
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ESRC awards are available on a competitive basis via the Scottish Doctoral Training Centre for students who wish to pursue the MSc plus a PhD on a 1+3 basis. Please contact the Faculty of Social Sciences for details +44 (0)1786 467681
The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Research comprises six compulsory taught core modules, and (for the MSc) a dissertation.
The modules are: The Nature of Social Enquiry; Research Design and Process; Introduction to Information Technology and Library Services (not formally assessed); Quantitative Data Analysis; Qualitative Data Analysis; Comparative Social Research; Policy Analysis and Evaluation Research.
These modules comprise a series of reading groups in which a number of central ideas are debated.
In addition to the modules, you will complete the following:
Examples of recent dissertation topics include:
Teaching methods are designed for each module to facilitate your acquisition of skills and progressive development. You are expected to participate in lectures, seminars, tutorials, computer-based workshops and group work.
Full-time and part-time MSc/Diploma students experience a range of different forms of assessment across the compulsory taught modules. These include essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, a computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis and the research dissertation. There are no examinations.
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.|
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.
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.
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.|
|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.|
|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.
Full-time: one year, four/five modules per semester
Part-time: two and a half years, two modules per semester
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:
The School has attracted considerable sums of external research funding from Research Councils, Government, Independent and Charitable funders, and from the European Commission.
The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .
Why did you choose to study at Stirling?
I looked at the various options for this type of course in Scotland, and the Stirling course seemed like the best option for me, providing a well-rounded programme of research training. It was also local!
Can you tell me what the highlights were for you as a student at the University of Stirling?
The standard of teaching was generally very good and the content of the course as a whole worked really well. The balance between qualitative and quantitative approaches is good, and the more fluid modules on policy analysis and sociological approaches were an excellent opportunity to explore the application of research theory.
How did your course help you improve in your chosen subject?
By the end of the course, I felt that I had really gained a solid grounding in social research. Although I had studied social sciences before, and research methods to some extent, I felt substantially more confident in my skills and knowledge by the end of the course. In particular, the dissertation worked really well as an opportunity to apply the learning from the course as a whole.
If you had to summarise your experience of the Faculty of Social Sciences in a few words, what would you say?
Inspiring, stretching and friendly (all at the same time!)
Can you tell me how your acquired skills and knowledge will help you in your career or has helped you in your professional role or secured employment?
I undertook the course with the aim of obtaining a PhD place, having previously failed to obtain funding. By the end of the course, I was having to make a decision between different PhD offers! I am now starting my PhD and feel like the MSc has given me a really good basis to build on.
Employability an important focus of the course. Past graduates have entered social research-related careers in the public, voluntary and private sectors for example, commissioning research for local authorities, working on university research projects, and conducting research for charities and voluntary organisations. The course is suitable for those wishing to enhance their research practice in a current post. Others choose to continue their studies and undertake a PhD or Doctorate. The MRes offers a combination of high quality, flexibility and choice.
Over the past five years, over half of our graduates have entered social research-related careers in the public, voluntary and private sectors, for example, a manager commissioning research for a local authority, a research fellow at a university and a senior research executive for a European-wide commercial research organisation.
Over one third of our graduates continue with academic study and undertake a professional doctorate or PhD.