The MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice) is recognised by the ESRC as a research training programme designed to provide participants with a sound background in overall research design and opportunity to apply these within the context of professional practice and service provision. It is aimed at those who have practice experience in the fields of social work, health and social care or criminal justice, and are interested in undertaking an academic or research career.
The core elements of this programme are delivered by staff from across the College of Social Sciences, many of them engaged in cutting-edge research in their particular fields.
The MA programme includes assessed core modules and short courses (120 credits) and the completion of a 10,000 word dissertation (60 credits), while the Postgraduate Diploma includes the assessed courses only (120 credits).
Why study this course
If you have practice experience in the fields of social work, health and social care or criminal justice and are interested in undertaking an academic or research career, then this programme could be for you. The MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice) offers students a rigorous and systematic social research training, and an opportunity to apply this to their particular areas of policy and practice interest.
The Institute of Applied Social Studies at the University of Birmingham is an internationally leading centre for research in social policy and social work. The Institute has developed a reputation for delivering high quality teaching and learning which enables students to develop into reflective and research informed professionals.
The core modules of the course are:
- Introduction to Social Research
This module aims to provide a general introduction to studying and research methods and prepares you for your disseration, emphasising key skills such as searching literature, finding datasets and presenting and criticising arguments. It also covers ethnics of research, the role of theory and philosophical bases for understanding the social world.
- Research Design
This module links the introductory module and data collection module through consideration of research, design, questions, warranting practices and sampling methods. All the elements of research design are linked into an over-arching theme of the full cycle of research activity.
- Social Research Methods I
This module introduces the principles and practices of data collection and explores rationales of the various methods. It will focus on the different stages of data collection, including various methods used to gather textual and numerical data.
- Social Research Methods II
This module introduces students to a range of aproaches for analysing and handling data. It will include covering statistical methods for quantitative data and methodological approaches for qualitative data. It emphasises that the method of analysis is not determined by the method of collection.
- Researching Professional Practice
This module enables students to explore professional practice using different research approaches and considering the role of service users and professional practitioners as stakeholders of the research. Students are encouraged to draw on their own experiences of professional practice within social work and social care organisations.
- Researching Social Policy *
This module is concerned with the politics of social research, rather than research methods and methodology. It addresses issues such as: how are certain topics identified as subjects for research, how is research commissioned and funded, and what are the relationships between research and the policy process. It draws on real-life experiences of doing research and being researched to explore these issues.
The modules on Social Research Methods I and Social Research Methods II cover a wide range of approaches, including the 'qualitative' and 'quantitative' traditions, plus mixed methods.
For courses marked * you may instead select various intensive short courses on research methods from a wide range, including narrative analysis, advanced qualitative analysis, logistic regression, factor analysis and others.
Fees and funding
Fees for 2015-2016:
Home and EU (full time) Code 7596: £6,210
Home and EU (part time) Code 7597: £3,105
Overseas (full time only) Code 7596: £14,140
Home and EU (full time) Code 7598: £4,140
Home and EU (part time) Code 7599: £2,070
Overseas (full time only) Code 7598: £9,427
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.
A good Honours degree or equivalent is normally required. This will usually be in a social science, although applications from those with degrees in other disciplines will be considered. Applications are also encouraged from those without an Honours degree who have five years or more relevant work experience in a policy or practice area.
Learn more about entry requirements
We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
- by holding an English language qualification to the right level.
- by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students.
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