MSc Social Science Research Methods (Sociology)

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Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available MSc
Programme length One year full-time;
Two years part-time
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places 18
Start date September 2016

Programme overview

Social Science Research Methods (Sociology) reflects the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) expertise in Research Methods training and provides comprehensive training in the whole process of research conceptualisation, design and operationalisation. It is especially formulated to reflect the training recommended by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and has been accredited as a Research Training programme. It is particularly suited for those seeking a career as a social science researcher or proceeding to a PhD, including ESRC-funded doctoral study.

You are given thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of the variety of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods available to the social scientist and of the principal methods of analysing data. The programme also covers the research process, ethical considerations and social theory. You will also be encouraged to apply your methods training to substantive research interests.

Fees for 2016/17

Full time fees


Part time fees


Fees quoted are per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2016/17

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC scholarships.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

The MSc programme comprises six 12-week taught units and six assessed essays, followed by a dissertation.

Core units

  • Qualitative Social Research
  • Quantitative Social Research
  • Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences

Plus at least one of the following:

  • Advanced Qualitative Research
  • Advanced Quantitative Research
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Research Methods
  • Philosophy of Social Science

Optional units

You will choose no more than two optional units in Teaching Block 2. A list of 2014/15 units is available on the SPAIS website.


The summer term is completed with a dissertation. The dissertation enables you to pursue an independent, in-depth study, reflecting on the epistemological and methodological issues covered in the taught element of the programme.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or equivalent qualification.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile E
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.


Bristol graduates are in high demand and have an excellent record of employment following graduation.

Students of the MSc Research Methods programmes go on to further study to PhD level or pursue research jobs in government or private sector - organisations such as House of Commons, World Bank,  DEMOS among others. 

How to apply
Application deadline:

Unfunded applications: 31 July 2016. Those seeking admission under the ESRC should apply by 1 February 2016.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 32% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 44% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 23% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Get in touch

Senior Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 7577 Email:

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
University of Bristol
11 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU


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