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

Overview Develop the skills and knowledge to become a highly skilled social science researcher.


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Drawing on expertise across the social sciences, you'll gain highly sought after research skills to world-class standards - as defined by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

You'll be prepared for a career in doctoral research or social science research, and choose to tailor your studies to your own interests from the social sciences.

You complete your final independent research project or dissertation in one of our social sciences departments:

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Course content What you’ll study


You'll be taught by internationally recognised experts, across a number of social science disciplines and experience exceptional teaching in both qualitative and quantitative methods. From day one, you'll be encouraged to produce your own original research and become an autonomous researcher capable of researching key societal issues.

When you’re equipped with the modern concepts, methods and techniques that underpin the research process, you’ll strengthen your analytical skills to take your research career to the next level. You'll develop interview and other data collection techniques and become proficient in methods of data analysis, including visual, conversation, regression and multiple correspondence analysis.

Accredited by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the course gives you the ideal platform to showcase your capabilities to future employers and PhD programmes alike – so you can break new ground in the worlds of professional and academic research.

At the heart of this degree is an opportunity to put your training into practice through an original research project, with expert guidance from academics that are at the forefront of research.


You'll study five core modules and two optional modules, plus a dissertation:

Core Modules

Research Design

Provides you with the core principals of how to develop and manage research, including:

  • How to formulate research questions
  • Understanding a variety of approaches to designing, conducting and appraising research
  • How to reflect on the researchers skills and environment as well as the research process

You'll explore how these ideas and principles shape the design and conduct of research across disciplines, as well as the implications for the knowledge produced.

Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis

An introduction to different quantitative techniques used in social sciences and the principals behind data collection and analysis.

You'll learn core concepts such as sampling, distributions, hypothesis testing and descriptive statistics, as well as survey research and questionnaire design. You'll be trained how to use the statistical software package SPSS proficiently, as well as learning the fundamentals of primary quantitative data collection. You'll gain an understanding of the importance of secondary data sets, big data, and quantitative data collection.

Introduction to Qualitative Methods and Data Analysis

You'll be introduced to the different strategies and techniques used in qualitative research and the range of methods for generating qualitative research data (including interviewing, biographical and narrative approaches, focus groups, ethnography and observation, non-verbal and visual methods). You'll develop a critical appreciation of the appropriateness of particular methods to different research scenarios. As well as learning how to use these tools, techniques and processes, you'll learn how to apply and evaluate them.

Working Beyond Disciplines

Designed to introduce you to the importance of inter-disciplinary practicals in conducting research and structures around each of the seven interdisciplinary grand-challenge themes. Within each you will consider what "grand challenges" are, and how you might address them.

Professional and Transferrable Skills

Provides you with the general research and transferable skills expected of effective researchers in the social sciences, aiding you to transition to research employability.

Optional Modules

You choose one advanced discipline module and one advanced methods module, from social science Masters courses of the departments below:






You'll undertake an in-depth study of a topic of your own choice guided by one-to-one academic supervision based in the department specialising in your chosen area.

You'll develop and demonstrate skills in the planning, definition and management of a substantial piece of enquirey that will further an deepen knowledge in your chosen specialist field.

You'll demonstrate your skills in literature review, research design, data analysis and critical evaluation and synthesis.

Develop highly sought after practical, qualitative and quantitative research skills through our hands-on teaching methods.

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

You'll learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, lab work and one-to-one supervision. We offer a personal approach to learning with much of our teaching conducted in small groups.

A member of the teaching staff will act as your supervisor throughout the degree, to help guide your studies and monitor progress.

  • You'll develop your skills both through working in groups and through independent reading and research
  • You'll also have the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops from across the social sciences from visiting scholars on a wide variety of sociological topics.


You'll be assessed through a variety of methods including ‘open’ essays (where an assignment is prepared in your own time), presentations and a dissertation.

Delve into an exciting mix of interdisciplinary subjects - and be taught by, and work with, staff who are at the forefront of their fields, and who are committed to extending these developments to others through their teaching.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

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.


Career opportunities

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

Transferable skills

  • The ability to research, source and examine information
  • The capacity to critically analyse evidence and construct arguments
  • Excellent written and oratory skills
  • Intellectual independence and autonomy
  • Teamworking skills.

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

You should have at least a 2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject.

We are willing to consider your application if you have lower qualifications, especially if you have high marks in relevant modules and/or appropriate professional experience. If you are applying with a lower qualification, you must include a written work sample with your application.

 If you have any queries about your eligibility for the masters in Social Research, please contact Professor Matthew Festenstein (


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

International options

If you earned your Bachelors degree outside of the UK, you should check that it is equivalent to a 2:1. Our country-specific pages can help you to find out.

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.


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

Tim, MA Social Research

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions

Next steps

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