Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Social Research (MA)

Overview Learn to study social phenomena scientifically


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

The complex relationships between social actors make for fascinating study. Whether your interest is in culture, crime, health, language and communication, or social inequalities, the MA in Social Research will prepare you for doctoral study or a career in social science research.

I've enjoyed thinking at an academic level again, especially about new concepts that have developed since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2002.
MA Social Research

Course content What you’ll study


Our MA in Social Research provides exceptional teaching in both quantitative and qualitative methods. You'll be taught by internationally recognized experts and you'll become an autonomous researcher capable of researching key societal issues.

From day one, you will be encouraged to produce your own original research, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. You will develop interview and other data collection techniques and become proficient in methods of data analysis, such as visual analysis, conversation analysis, regression analysis and multiple correspondence analysis.

This postgraduate degree has been recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


The masters in Social Research is comprised of six modules:

Social Research Methods & Management
You will learn to develop a research project from conception through analysis to the dissemination of your results. This module will give a general overview of the decisions social researchers have to make when they develop a sociological project.

Qualitative Methods 
Qualitative Methods will give you an understanding of and expertise in the key methods of qualitative data collection and analysis. You will develop practical skills in research techniques such as the following:

  • Observation
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Visual data in social science research
  • Computer assisted qualitative data analysis
  • Narrative, interaction, and discourse analysis.

Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis
This module will provide you with the skills and techniques to be able to analyse key sets of data, using methods such as:

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Tables and chi-squared test
  • Analysis of variance
  • Multiple linear regression
  • Logistic regression

Advanced Methods in Social Research
You will build on the qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods studied in the previous modules, improving your skills and techniques and learning to master different quantitative and qualitative software packages.

Metrics and Society
You will explore the social role, significance and consequences of metrics and data. Many of the most significant technological developments of our age will centre around data and metrics. This module will give you the means to understand these developments. You'll see how we are measured and how measurement links into power, governance and control. You will think through what part measurement plays in defining our everyday experiences in society.

Themes and Issues in Contemporary Sociology
You will be introduced to the key themes in contemporary sociological analysis and theory, gaining a solid grounding in theoretical matters in areas such as:

  • Culture and cultural practice
  • Gender, inequality and diversity
  • Language and communication
  • Health and healthcare
  • Political life
  • Crime and urban life.


You will develop, design, implement and manage your own original research project, supervised by a member of staff with the relevant experience for your topic. You will analyse the data and produce a 15,000-word dissertation based on your research project.

Examples of previous dissertation titles include:

  • The ‘Social Animal’ in a created world: The rise of social networking sites: Rearranging the social
  • Refining identity: Examining the reconstructions of global belonging in response to global change
  • An ethnographic study of the occupational culture of bouncers
  • Revulsion and rubbish: Social responses to freeganism
  • Network terrorism in the network society: Al-Qaeda, its ideology and methods
  • The third-person effect in advertising and its behavioural consequences
  • Can the UK's geodemographic system be used for commercial purposes in China?
  • Neighbourhood change and studentification in York: A case study.

Study abroad

This course is not associated with a specific Study Abroad programme, but York offers a number of options through international partnering programmes.

Study Abroad with York

Funding opportunities

A range of scholarships and studentships are available for masters students. 

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

Modules are composed of lectures, and seminars where you can discuss the lectures and readings in a group. A member of the teaching staff will act as your supervisor throughout the degree, to help guide your studies and and monitor progress.

  • You will spend most of your time reading assigned texts and researching supporting materials on your own, discussing the readings and lectures in a group, and presenting work when requested.
  • You will also have the opportunity to attend seminars from visiting scholars on a wide variety of sociological topics.



Core modules will be assessed by a mixture of ‘open’ essays (where an assignment is prepared in your own time and handed in) and presentations. 

  • Open assessments are released early in the term so you can select one or more essay titles to read around the topic and plan your essay. 
  • To cap your studies, you'll complete a 15,000-word dissertation on an original piece of your own research.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

Graduates finish this course well equipped to pursue further study, such as a PhD. You will also gain relevant and highly sought-after skills that qualify you for a research career in academic institutions, local and central government or commercial research.

Our Sociology alumni

Career opportunities

  • Teaching and academia
  • Politics
  • Public services
  • Campaigning
  • Commercial research

Transferable skills

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Data analysis
  • Statistical analysis
  • Design and completion of original research
  • Communication skills

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

Applicants are expected to have at least a 2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject. If you have any queries about your eligibility for the masters in Social Research, please contact Dr Laurie Hanquinet (laurie.hanquinet@york.ac.uk).


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically with our online system, which allows you to save progress and return later to finish. If you're unable to apply online, you can submit a paper application.

Applying for postgraduate study

Start your online application


English language

If your native language is not English, you should meet an English language proficiency level of 7.0 in the British Council's IELTS test with at least IELTS 6.0 in writing. We do accept other English Language Tests. Students who have successfully completed a recent undergraduate degree at a UK University are exempt from the English Language requirement.

We also strongly recommend that you attend one of the University's pre-sessional English courses.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions

Next steps

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Contact us

Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)1904 322142