Social Research MSc | Middlesex University London
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Social Research MSc

Learn about the course below
October 2017
September 2017 (EU/INT induction)
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£7,500 (UK/EU)
£12,500 (INT)
Course leader
Elena Vacchelli

This master's degree combines cutting-edge epistemological approaches and methodological training in contexts that can be applied to a range of different career paths, including academic professions and more practice-oriented research roles in third-sector organisations and market research.

Students will learn about the most up-to-date research methods techniques reflecting current developments in research design and practice, including evidence-based evaluation techniques and training in current research packages for qualitative and quantitative research such as NVivo10 and SPSS.

Why study MSc in Social Research at Middlesex University?

This degree offers unique combination of modules not currently available in other London-based universities, taught by an academic team with a wealth of top-level research experience in the UK and beyond.

Our experts include Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the co-director of the Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex Professor Louise Ryan, migration specialist Dr Alessio D'Angelo, and Dr Elena Martellozzo, who has worked with the Metropolitan Police to tackle online child abuse.

The programme is led by Senior Lecturer Dr Elena Vacchelli, whose work focuses on gender and sexuality, migration and urban studies. She has extensive experience in conducting and coordinating local, national and European research in areas such as migration policies, with a particular focus on gender equality.

Through our teaching teams' liaison with key research institutions and agencies (ranging from independent, third sector and government research agencies to more corporate market research institutions), we are able to put on regular workshops and attract expert speakers to further enhance your learning.

Course highlights

  • Acquire evidence-based evaluation research skills which are at the forefront of research practice across the public sector
  • Learn from internationally renowned scholars in the fields of sociology, criminology, social policy, migration and gender studies
  • Enjoy seminars and workshops with key research institutions and agencies with which we have established strong links
  • This degree offers a unique combination of modules not currently available in other London-based universities.

What will you study on the MSc in Social Research?


Four core plus two optional modules are completed over terms one and two, with a Dissertation or Work Integrated Learning period in term three.


Each module is typically worth 20 credits except the Dissertation and Work Integrated Learning, which are worth 60 credits each.

Not all of the optional modules listed will be available in any one year. Module availability is dependent on staffing and the number of students wishing to take each module.

  • Core modules

    • Research Design and Ethics

      This module asks you to critically consider the methodological and philosophical context of social research, relationships between different paradigms, methodologies, theories and research designs. You will develop research design skills and become familiar with ethical and governance frameworks within which social science research takes place in contemporary Britain. An appreciation of the key issues, problems and controversies involved in designing and implementing a research project in different work and research environments is central to the module.

    • Qualitative Research Methods

      This core module on the MSc in Social Research aims to provide you with the necessary methodological foundations to carry out qualitative research. It introduces you to a range of epistemological approaches for undertaking qualitative research and highlights specific qualitative research methods focussing on a critical awareness of the possibilities and limitations associated with each approach. The module will also offer you some insights into visual methods, e-research, pluralist methods and post-qualitative research and affords experience of each part of the qualitative research cycle, focussing on specific techniques you’ll require to carry out qualitative research. These include qualitative sampling, qualitative data collection tools such as semi-structured interviews, focus groups and on-line ethnography. The module will also help you critically examine the links between qualitative data collection and qualitative data analysis highlighting ways to analyse qualitative data such as critical discourse analysis, thematic analysis, narrative analysis, and visual analysis. In this module you’ll also pay particular attention to demonstrating reflexivity in the research process and find out what it means to conduct embodied research.

    • Quantitative Research Methods

      This module aims to provide you with an account of a range of quantitative research methods and strategies for the social sciences, discussing their application, potential and limitations, including issues of data quality, data protection and ethics. This is done through both theoretical discussions and the presentation of a number of case studies from a range of research areas and settings, including academic research and public sector data reporting.

    • Evidence-based evaluation for the social sciences

      This course introduces you to a range of different evaluation approaches, focusing specifically on monitoring and evaluation systems. Starting with theoretical and epistemological approaches, you will explore a range of different systems and models in a range of public and social policy areas (e.g. health, education, housing), and explore specific real-world case studies from evaluation researchers and practitioners. As part of your studies, you will be asked to consider how a range of approaches taken from different discipline areas (sociology, criminology, psychology, social work, education, anthropology, and health) can be combined or integrated to develop effective evaluation strategies.

      Key areas that you’ll cover will include:

      • links between policy questions and evaluation methods and designs;
      • main theoretical approaches to the design of evaluations;
      • methodological approaches & issues arising in relation to different evaluation systems;
      • ethical issues;
      • case studies that highlight different disciplinary and methodological approaches;
      • analysis, report writing, and dissemination strategies.
  • Plus one of the following:

    • Dissertation

      The module aims to enable you to undertake a substantial academic research project focussed on a key issue within your programme. It requires you to apply methodology, research design and method to the practical processes of undertaking a chosen research topic and presenting the findings. The dissertation requires you to draw upon the prerequisite module Research and Practice Skills but encourages you to demonstrate independence and self-discipline in researching a topic of interest and relevance to you and manage an extended project from conception to completion.

    • Work Integrated Learning

      The module enables you to apply theoretical knowledge and research to anticipate and respond to challenges in a selected workplace experience. The workplace experience may be undertaken as an internship that you negotiate yourself or in your current workplace or an existing voluntary role. It also aims to foster sustainable long term learning by requiring you to take responsibility for your own learning, design and negotiate learning goals and make informed judgments about your performance across the programme of study. The module asks you to engage as an active subject in the assessment process, thus enhancing your capacity for transformative learning. By selecting a topic of interest grounded in your own workplace experience you’ll be called upon to demonstrate reflexivity, self-regulation and self-assessment in your journey towards personal and professional development.

  • Plus two optional modules from the list below:

    • Digital Research

      This module enables you to learn, evaluate and experiment with the use of ethnographic digital research tools including contemporary technique and approach to digital-based and qualitative social research. Students will learn how to use digital ethnography for the study of digital spaces and online interaction and you’ll then apply this knowledge to the development and planning of a research project or research proposal that uses digital ethnography as a main research technique for data collection. The module is specifically designed to teach you to devise and develop a research project or proposal using digital ethnography in an accurate, rigorous and epistemologically sound research framework. You’ll learn how to use the latest tools and programmes to do research on digital spaces, including data scraping and visualization, and guide you across the design, planning and execution of a digital ethnography, using a combination of theoretical insights, case studies and practical applications.

    • Researching Cybercrime

      With increasing amounts of social activity taking place on the internet cybercrime is becoming an important area of research. This module aims to introduce you to the legal context of cybercrime and to contemporary methods used in researching cybercrime in the context of current work through a series of case study guest lectures. The module also aims to build upon the Research Methods module in enabling you to apply skills that you have learnt in practical assessments and workshops focusing upon the research process, from design to implementation.

    • Researching Migration

      This module aims to give you an overview of a range of methods commonly used in conducting research on migration and asylum, and migrant and minority populations. This will include qualitative data collection and analysis (e.g. focus groups, biographical and semi-structured interviews, ethnography, discourse and media analysis, online research, visual methods), quantitative methods (e.g. secondary migration, population and social statistics), survey design, and project and programme evaluation. In this module you’ll also address the ethical implications of undertaking research with vulnerable populations and on politically sensitive topics, the public communication of results and the impact of research in informing policy and practice. You’ll learn practical skills through seminars, workshops, visits and the module’s assessment strategy. The knowledge and skills you’ll gain will equip you to undertake your own research project through the dissertation and/or work experience module.

    • Marketing Research Process

      This optional module aims to teach you about marketing research processes, how to critically evaluate and interpret market intelligence reports, prepare market research proposal and conduct market research. You’ll also learn a wide range of measurement techniques and scales. By the end of this module you should be able to design appropriate data collection instruments, such as online and off line questionnaires.

    • Social Statistics with SPSS

      This module aims to introduce you to statistics in the social sciences, presenting and discussing a variety of methods that can be applied to a broad range of research areas. You’ll approach this through critical discussion of statistical theory as well as through the application of statistical analysis techniques to small and large scale secondary data-sets. You will learn these techniques through several in-lab exercises using the software package 'SPSS' (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) - and in this way the module aims to provide you with skills in using SPSS in an analytical, non-mechanical way. The module starts from the basics of descriptive statistics aiming to build your knowledge and skills in more advanced methods, including analysis of statistical relationships, statistical tests, multivariate analysis and modelling. Finally, you will look at issues of data visualisation, reporting and interpretation of findings, through a series of case studies of relevance and interest within the social sciences.

    • Qualitative Analysis with NVivo10

      This module introduces you to techniques of coding and qualitative data analysis and is specifically tailored for the use of the NVivo10 software, with the aim of developing practical skills and a critical appreciation of the benefits and disadvantages of computer software for storing, organising and analysing qualitative data. NVivo is one of the most powerful and widely used research packages for the analysis of qualitative data and you will be able to analyse a range of qualitative data such as interviews, focus group transcripts, diaries, journal articles, policy reports as well as multimedia.

    • Integrated Work and Learning

      This practical experience module provides the means for you to link your academic studies with ‘real world’ work experience related to your specific programme. It aims to enable you to conceptualise the relation of theory to policy decisions within the context of the wider world. This module also aims to help you develop and embed specific key skills that will facilitate your career path and employment in your chosen speciality. You’ll get to reflect on and analyse areas of knowledge relevant to the placement learning experience and develop personal knowledge through reviewing your own learning. This learning experience will provide you with the opportunity to enhance your skills of self-expression, communication, self-reliance, cooperation and team working within an area of work related to your chosen pathway.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Module and programme information is indicative and may be subject to change.

How is the MSc in Social Research degree taught?

You will learn via a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and lab sessions designed to facilitate your learning.

Practitioners and research professionals invited as guest speakers from leading private, independent and public research institutions such as Ernst&Young, Facebook, Ipsos MORI, NatCen Social Research, and CBRE will provide practical perspectives and allow you to engage in contemporary debates and discuss real-world case scenarios.


Students' knowledge, understanding and skills are assessed by a variety of assessment methods including essay writing, reports, reviews and research or project proposal.

  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK & EU
  2. International

How can the MSc in Social Research support your career?

Completing this course will open up opportunities for career development in a wide range of professions, including:

  • NGOs, the public sector and the private sector as an officer, researcher or policy analyst
  • Public and community sector service provision, including advice and welfare
  • Independent and public research institutions working for local and central government
  • PhD/academic career
  • Jobs within international and European organisations.

Those already in industry view their master's-level studies as a means to facilitating career progression within their organisations. A number of students have continued their studies in criminology and psychology at PhD level. Staff in the department will work alongside the employability office to facilitate your future career decisions.

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