MA Social Research

What is the philosophical basis of social research? What are the ethics and politics of social research? Are qualitative and quantitative methods complementary or incompatible?

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Develop a thorough understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Explore theoretical approaches and the challenges of researching beyond boundaries. Focus on a specific research project of your choice.

This masters degree combines core units in research methods with education-specific option units across childhood and social policy.

This degree is accredited by the ESRC’s White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership. Prospective UK students are therefore eligible to apply for 1+3 studentships to fund their MA and subsequent PhD. After completion of the course, UK students will also be eligible to apply for ESRC +3 awards to fund a PhD. EU applicants are normally eligible for a fees only award, unless they have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award.

It’s designed for anyone who’d like to pursue a career in research, whether you’re hoping to go on to PhD study, work as a social researcher in the public or private sector, or are on a career break and interested in exploring social research.

Through this course, you’ll develop the skills to begin your research career and to contribute to wider research communities.

You’ll study core units to gain a broad skillset in research methods across the social sciences. You’ll get a grounding in the basics of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and  explore theories such as critical realism, feminist paradigms, and post-humanist research.

You’ll also choose two option units, one that relates to the pathway you’d like to develop a career in, and one that relates to your preferred methodological pursuit. These units introduce you to some of the contemporary challenges you might face when conducting researching.

All members of the teaching team at Manchester Met are experienced social researchers, investigating topics such as video games and learning, early years literacies, and the concept of 'oddness' in primary schools.

As well as lectures with academics from the Faculty of Education, you’ll also learn from researchers in the Department of Sociology.

This collaboration means you can learn from academics with expertise in the philosophy of social research, ethics and research integrity, and advanced qualitative and quantitative methods.

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

You may choose to develop a career in research, perhaps in a university environment, in central government, or with an organisation such as a research agency.

You could also pursue a career at a senior level within education.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

Applicants need to have an honours degree or a postgraduate diploma or a professional qualification recognised as being equivalent to a UK honours degree. Other qualifications or experience may be acceptable if students are able to demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills to a UK honours degree standard.

Language requirements

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

Course details

Our masters in Social Research helps you to gain a broad understanding of social science thinking and practices.

You’ll explore a range of contemporary issues from the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) training pathways in Education, Childhood and Youth, and Wellbeing, Health and Communities.

At the beginning of the course, you’ll consider the key principles of social research. You’ll explore the disciplines, theories, methods and models involved in social research.  

We’ll introduce you to qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the professional skills you will need to be a researcher in these fields.

In the second term (January onwards), you’ll take two option units. These units help you to develop your ability to engage with published research and develop your own skills in your fields of interest.

You’ll choose either Contemporary Issues in Education, Childhood and Youth, or Social Policy and Social Work: research, policy and practice. You will also choose between Further Qualitative Methods and Further Quantitative Methods.

At Manchester Met, we run a number of wider events for our postgraduate taught students. Although you will spend time studying independently, you’ll be able to get involved with our research community and attend optional seminars, lectures and events.

Our on-campus research group, the Education and Social Research Institute (ESRI), runs regular research seminars and conferences.

You’ll also have the opportunity to attend ESRI’s biannual Summer Institute in Qualitative Research. This is a week-long event with international scholar keynotes, methodological and theoretical workshops, and discussions and presentations of delegates’ research work. You’ll be able to network with other early career researchers, as well as more experienced social science researchers.

Term 1 Units: 

  • Principles and Debates in Social Research
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research
  • Introduction to Quantitative Research
  • Professional Skills for Researchers

Term 2 Units:

  • Disciplinarities: Re-searching Beyond Boundaries

You will take two optional units that develop your ability to critically engage with published research and to develop your own research skills in support of your fields of interest:

You will choose one unit from each of the following:

  • Contemporary Issues in Education, Childhood and Youth
  • Social Policy and Social Work: research, policy and practice
  • Further Qualitative Methods
  • Further Quantitative Methods

Term 3 

  • Independent Research Project

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Principles and Debates in Social Research

In this unit, we'll introduce you to key principles and debates in relation to the design and practice of research, including a consideration of the key philosophical positions in Western thought that have informed existing research traditions. You'll cover three broad areas of content that underpin the pursuit of research:

  • philosophical and theoretical frameworks within which research is conducted
  • strategies and approaches to designing, conducting, evaluating and analysing research
  • critical reflections on the position of the researcher in the research process
Introduction to Qualitative Research

In this unit, we'll introduce you to a variety of qualitative research approaches for the investigation of human and more-than-human worlds. You'll develop an appreciation of how qualitative methods are used to create knowledge. We aim to familiarise you with a full range of qualitative research methods and analyses in common use in social science. You'll debate current theoretical, methodological and ethical concerns. You'll learn how to use and evaluate the tools, techniques and processes of qualitative research, as well as applying them to your own research projects. We'll provide the basis for more subject-specific and advanced training in this field.

Introduction to Quantitative Research

In this unit, we aim to provide you with an appreciation, and experience of, the theoretical underpinnings and practical application of the range of common quantitative tools and techniques that can be used as part of the research process. You'll gain an overview of the foundational concepts and practice of quantitative research.

Professional Skills for Researchers

In this unit you'll reflect on your current level of skills development. You'll be able to attend a range of sessions through workshops or online via the Research Student Skills Development Programme within the Graduate School, from provision offered by Faculties or events attended externally.  

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Disciplinarities: Re-searching Beyond Boundaries

In this unit, you'll explore how more expansive understandings of issues in social science research are developed through cross-, inter- and trans-disciplinary working. As the demands on research to take account of ever more complex issues increase, you'll will examine ways you're able to respond more fully to the challenges faced in an increasingly mixed-up, boundary-blurring, heterogeneous, interdependent and ethically confronting more-than-human world. 

Likely Optional Units

Contemporary Issues in Education, Childhood and Youth

This unit will examine research approaches to issues and associated social policy and legislation (in education, health or social care settings) that affect the experiences, as well as public and other perceptions, of babies, children and youth in the UK.

Social Policy and Social Work: research, policy and practice

In this unit, you'll learn how research is translated and used in the areas of social policy and social work. You'll focus on understanding the relationship between theory and practice through the analysis of contemporary case studies. Through weekly workshops, we'll provide you with materials to inform the development of research agendas that can generate impact.

Further Qualitative Methods

Through this unit, you'll gain the skills needed to engage critically with contemporary theoretical trends in qualitative research in the social sciences, and you'll relate these to research and practice. We aim to extend your knowledge and skills in qualitative research for investigating human and more-than-human worlds, developing an appreciation of how qualitative methods are used to create knowledge. 

Further Quantitive Methods

In this unit, we'll introduce you to further quantitative social science research methodology and design. You'll examine survey based research and working with primary data. This may include, sampling or selecting cases or subjects dealing with non-response and missing data, and random and systematic measurement error. You'll look at how it should be mitigated through instrument design and corrected for during analysis, inductive and deductive methods, hypothesis testing, exploratory and inferential methods, and measuring causality. You may also cover, population inference from cross-sectional and longitudinal sample surveys and inference from research using experimental designs, inferential statistical tests for parametric and non-parametric data, and linear and non-linear forms of multivariate regression, data reduction and grouping methods, such as factor and cluster analysis.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Independent Research Project

In this unit, you'll conduct individual research on a topic appropriate to your course. We've ensured a flexible approach to the unit so that it may encompass a range of methods to enable you to achieve your learning outcomes. 

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies

Our School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies specialises in teaching and research around education disciplines focused on children, young people, families and communities.

The department works collaboratively with communities, partners, local authorities and arts organisations on social enterprise projects, and has been at the forefront of developments in its field for over 20 years.

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £8,500 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1417 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £16,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2667 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online now

Download our course application form. There are instructions on what to do next and who to send the form to in the Word document. 

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for postgraduate taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
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