Social Research (Education) MA

The University of Birmingham’s School of Education is one of the best schools in the UK to study social research as can be seen by it's results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 which shows that more than 81 per cent of all its research was rated as internationally excellent (3*) or world leading (4*). The MA in Social Research will provide you with a solid foundation in a broad range of social science research methods as well as basic research skills.

Download information on all the postgraduate study programmes in the School of Education (PDF)

On this course you will acquire a general overview of the philosophy of social research, and understand how this informs research design, methods of data collection and analysis. You will also develop an ability to use a range of research methods, to communicate research findings effectively and an understanding of the potential use of and impact of your research within and beyond academia.

Modules

Core modules

Philosophy of Social Science Research

The module considers fundamental philosophical debates about what counts as ‘knowledge’ across the social sciences. Teaching addresses (natural) science as a method of obtaining knowledge and the interpretative tradition in the social sciences. Students explore fundamental philosophical debates about what counts as ‘knowledge’ across the social sciences and apply these discussions to their own disciplines and field of study.

Research Design, Practice and Ethics

The module introduces students to social science research designs and ethical issues in research practice. Learning supports students to be able to make strategic choices when developing their own projects, and to assess the design and research ethics decision making in others’ published research work.

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods

Concepts, methods and skills central to quantitative research, including data collection approaches and concept operationalization, are core throughout this module. Building on a grounding in ideas relating to probability sampling, sampling error and statistical inference, coverage of techniques extends from comparisons of means and simple cross-tabular analyses to a discussion of multivariate analysis approaches, focusing on linear and logistic regression. 

Foundations in Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is examined across a range of topics, from different approaches and methods including ethnographic and observational research, discourse and conversation analysis, documentary and archival analysis, participatory research and the use of interviews. Ethics in qualitative research is specifically considered, as is the evaluation of qualitative research.

Elective modules

You will take a minimum of four elective modules from the following list (10 credits each)*:

Dissertation

In addition, you will write a 12,000-word dissertation (60 credits).

*The modules listed on our website may occasionally be subject to change. For example, as you will appreciate, key members of staff may leave the University and this might necessitate a review of the modules that are offered. Where a module is no longer available, we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Fees 2017-2018

Home/EU £7,020 full-time; £3,510 part-time

Overseas £16,380 full-time only

Please view our Fees for International Students page for further details. 

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the international scholarships page

For further information contact the School directly or view the Fees and Financial Support university webpages.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language support - before your course starts

The University offers Presessional English courses for students whose IELTS score does not meet the entry requirements. If you successfully attend one of these courses you won’t need to retake IELTS.  

English language support - during your studies

BIA provides free English language services to international students who are currently studying on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at the University of Birmingham.  Services include Open-access English classes, online self-assessment, online materials through CANVAS, email answers to quick questions and individual one to one tutorials.  For a small fee, BIA also offers classes for partners of international postgraduate students and staff, social events including day trips and HOST visits.   

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

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Many core elements of the programme are delivered by the College of Social Sciences, so you will be undertaking the modules with other students from across the College. However, your dissertation will be undertaken and supervised within the Department. In addition, there is an induction programme during the first two weeks of the term, which is compulsory, but non-assessed and a programme of skills training which is delivered at University-level, mainly by the Staff Development Unit, throughout the year. You are encouraged to attend all the modules in the programme which are appropriate to you. You must discuss your skills training needs with your designated supervisor in the first week of the first term.

This MA is recognised by the ESRC for the provision of research methods training as Year 1 of a '1+3' programme of doctoral study. It is also available as a stand-alone Masters. Home/EU students may enter into a departmental competition to be nominated for the ESRC open competition for '1+3' or '+3' funding (the '1+3' award covers the MA and provides three years' further funding for PhD research; for '+3' funding you must already have an ESRC-recognised research methods MA degree or equivalent).

The University of Birmingham has recently been ranked 9th in the UK, and 55th in the world, for post-qualification employability in a global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune. Over the last five years, an impressive 98.3 % of Education postgraduates have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation.

Birmingham’s Education graduates choose to work in variety of education roles in schools and administrative roles in public and private sector organisations. Work in retail, sales and administration are also popular options. Some chose to continue their education and apply for professional courses such as teacher training or undertake a PhD.

What type of career assistance is available to postgraduate researchers in Education?

The College of Social Sciences, to which the School of Education belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for postgraduate researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers’ Service also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice and 1-1 CV advice. The Career’s Service runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates in the College of Social Sciences, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors who run workshops and provide networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with international postgraduate researchers.