Social Science Research

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Key Programme Information

Entry Year


Programme length *

1 year(s)

Places available



Full-Time, Part-Time


Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

* 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.


The MRes (Masters in Social Research) programme provides practical, career-orientated training in research design, data collection and data analysis skills relating to both qualitative and quantitative modes of inquiry. Students have the opportunity to specialise in particular methodologies and to learn more about the application of these methodologies to illuminate important issues and debates in contemporary society.

Why Queen's?

We are a research-intensive School and our programmes are all informed by latest developments and debates in the social sciences. The Masters in Social Research is designed to develop critical understanding of contemporary issues as well as practical employment-orientated research skills and the ability to work independently. We are an international teaching team and are committed to research-led teaching, with modules reflecting our diverse range of expertise. 

Course Details

The programme is designed to provide a fundamental grounding in both quantitative and qualitative research skills, along with the opportunity to specialise in more advanced training in quantitative research, qualitative research or in practical applications of research techniques.

Masters and Diploma students take taught modules amounting to 120 CATS. In addition, Masters students carry out a 60 CATS research dissertation, guided by an academic member of staff. The programmes can be completed in one year on a full-time basis or over two years part-time. Indicative modules for 2016/7 include (all modules are 10 CATS unless specified):


Semester 1

SOC9012 Approaches to Social Research (20 CATS)

This module offers an introduction to the different styles of sociological research as well as guidance and illustrations of how to operationalize research questions and assess them empirically. Students will be shown how to conduct systematic literature searches and how to manage empirical research projects. The module will also explore issues around the ethics of social science research as well as the connection between sociological research and policy concerns. It is designed as preparation for undertaking postgraduate research and dissertation work.

SOC9024 Theory and Debates in Social Research (20 CATS)

This module aims to deepen students' understanding of key debates in social theory and research, providing advanced level teaching for those building upon basic knowledge and undertaking postgraduate research. It is designed to demonstrate and explore how social theory is utilised, critiqued and developed through the pursuit of social research.

SOC9053 The Sources and Construction of Qualitative Data 

The purpose of this module is to illuminate the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research. The module will discuss the impact of various theories on the nature and conduct of qualitative research particularly around questions of epistemology and ontology. The role of different types of interviewing in qualitative research will be utilised in order to explore the relationship between theory and methods.

SOC9054 The Sources and Construction of Quantitative Data 

The aim of the module is to provide a comprehensive overview of the theory and practice of measurement and constructing quantitative data in the social sciences. Through lectures and practical exercises, this module will provide students with relevant knowledge of secondary data sources and large datasets, their respective uses and usefulness, and their relevance for the study of contemporary social issues

Semester 2 

SOC9055 Qualitative Data Analysis 

The module will provide students with an overview of different approaches to qualitative data analysis. It will include introductory training to this skill that includes such techniques as thematic analysis and discourse analysis, as well as computer assisted qualitative data analysis. It will provide the knowledge necessary for the informed use of the qualitative data analysis software package NVivo. Thus, the module gives students a base level introduction to the analytical and technical skills in qualitative data analysis appropriate to the production of a Master's dissertation and/or use of CAQDAS software for social research purposes.

SOC9056 Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational 

This module provides an introduction to the basics of quantitative data analysis. The module will begin with a brief review of basic univariate and bivariate statistical procedures as well as covering data manipulation techniques. The module is taught through a series of seminars and practical workshops. These two strands are interwoven within each teaching session. Please note that students may be exempt from this module if they have already successfully completed a module that has the equivalent learning outcomes.

SOC9057 Quantitative Data Analysis: Intermediate 

This module advances students' confidence and knowledge in the use of SPSS. The module focuses on multivariate regression models, including the appropriate use and awareness of statistical assumptions underlying regression and the testing and refinement of such models.

SOC9019 Dissertation (for Masters students – 60 CATS) 

A dissertation of no more than 15,000 words on a topic relevant to social science research methods training. The thesis will deal with either carrying out and reporting a small social research project which includes a full and considered description and discussion of the research methods employed or the discussion of a research issue or technique to a level appropriate for publication.


Optional modules generally run during the Spring semester and are offered subject to sufficient student demand and staff availability. Students will be able to choose a maximum of three to four option modules (depending on whether they need to complete SOC9056 Quantitative Data Analysis). Please note that it is unlikely that all the following modules will be available for 2016/7. Please check with the Programme Director for queries about specific modules.

Options in Social Research Methods 

SOC9061 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods 

Building upon the core qualitative training, this module will explore one or more techniques of more advanced qualitative analysis. This may include such methods as ethnographic observation, interviewing, focus groups or biographical methods.

SOC9023 Social Science Research Online 

The internet is a valuable tool in social science research - not just as a source of information but as a medium for recruiting research subjects and conducting qualitative research. This module looks at using the internet to find information, to identify populations and to conduct sociological research using methods such as on-line interviewing and on-line participant-observation.

SOC9059 New Visual Research Methods 

This course provides an introduction to visual methodologies, looking at different types of visual research and critically examines a range of visual methods and their uses with particular emphasis on photography and photo elicitation.  The rationale for using visual methods will be explored along with its link to participatory research especially with children and young people.  The course aims to engage and inspire participants to reflect on the relevance of applying visual methodologies to a range of research situations.  SOC9049 Qualitative Research in Childhood and Youth 

This module introduces students to some of the key qualitative approaches to carrying out research with children and young people and the realities and practicalities in doing so. The module begins by introducing the main issues and dilemmas in qualitative research with children and young people and moves on to critically interrogate the notion of participatory research. The adaption of 'traditional methods' of data collection is discussed alongside methods specifically designed to 'engage' children and young people in the research process. The strengths and weaknesses of various methods are discussed and each is illustrated through research examples. Practical tips in designing and 'doing' qualitative research are built into the sessions.

SOC9052 Longitudinal Analysis 

Sociologists study phenomena in a state of constant evolution; this module introduces a range of quantitative techniques for the study of long-term social processes. Time-series methods build on multiple regression by taking into account the time-ordered nature of observations. These techniques open up a range of additional research questions beyond those permitted by cross-sectional analysis, but also present their own technical challenges. This module covers time series techniques for exploring historical change within single units such as countries, and others for analysing groups of units over time.

SOC9060 Advanced Quantitative Research Methods 

Building upon the core quantitative training, this module will explore one or more techniques of more advanced quantitative analysis including logistic regression.


Options in Sociological Research

SOC9062 Conflict and Change in Northern Ireland: New Sociological Research 

The objectives of this module are to introduce advanced students to key issues in contemporary research on conflict and change in divided societies, using Northern Ireland as a case study. It will examine critical sociological debates about identity, ethnicity, inequality, and conflict management, and interrogate their usefulness in a Northern Irish context. Emphasis will be placed on how Northern Ireland may conform to, or challenge, contemporary debates in theoretical and comparative sociology.

SOC9063 Social Research in a Divided City 

A theoretical and practical introduction to urban sociology by focusing on the specific challenge of conducting social research in a divided city. The course will be delivered through a focus on different types of urban division (including spatial, socio-economic, communal) all looking at the case of Belfast in international comparative perspective. Students will be encouraged to get 'out and about' in the city and bring their observations into the classroom discussions and the assignment for the module.

SOC9025 Research Religious Transformations 

This module aims to deepen students' understanding of debates in the sociological study of religion by focusing upon current social research into religious transformations across the world. It is designed to help students understand the research process, which combines the generation of empirical data with its theoretical interpretation.

SOC9058 Researching Emotions and Social Life 

This course aims to examine research on the social logic of emotional life. Emotions are considered not as personal or 'inner' psychological phenomena, but as sociological processes. The course focuses on studies which illustrate, in varying ways, how emotions are elicited through, and in turn shape, social relations, as they provide evaluative responses to the operation of power and status. The course will consider a range of classic and contemporary, structuralist and interactional perspectives informing studies of specific emotions, including shame, anger and love.

SOC9064 Researching Environmental Issues 

The course introduces students to new research into societal responses to global environmental crisis. It identifies the factors that inhibit societies from modernising ecologically and examines the capacity for environmental sustainability of selected societies. It also critically assesses the possibility of a green capitalism.

SOC9069 University Research and Civil Society Organisations

The purpose of this module is to provide students with an introduction to the fundamental principles of planning and conducting research that has a meaningful engagement with civil society. The goal of such research is to have an ‘impact’ that is beneficial to organisations working in the field, not only to the scholar her/himself. This module emphasises concepts and practical skills over disciplinary specificities. It will illustrate standards and good practice in research preparation and methods to ensure that these tools lead to meaningful relationships, mutual trust, productive outcomes, and sustained partnerships, as well as high quality research. It will ensure students will become confident in engaging with civil society organisations and considerate of the demands not just of research ethics but also of research engagement.


Assessment & Feedback

An overall mark of 50 per cent is required to pass each module. PG Diploma students must obtain 120 credits at Masters level. To be awarded a Masters degree, students must obtain a further 60 credits via the completion of a dissertation. Note: CATS = Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme points. 120 CATS points are needed for a Diploma degree and 180 CATS points for a Masters degree. CATS points are also used to assess the amount of fees that will be charged.

Learning and Teaching

Evening and intensive days usually Friday/Saturday (subject to change). 

Additional Teaching Information 

Most classes are held on weekday evenings or late afternoons. However some modules use the format of an all-day seminar, including a Friday and/or Saturday.

Contact Teaching Hours per Week

Generally, not including the dissertation and assuming full-time registration, students take 60 CATS each semester which translates into approximately 120 hours contact time over the course of the year.

The modules are delivered via a mixture of traditional lecture, seminar, workshop and computer lab class. Students are also expected to undertake independent study. Masters students completing a dissertation will meet one-to-one with their academic supervisor throughout the course of their studies. 

Entry Requirements

Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in one of the Social Sciences and/or appropriate social science research experience. A supporting reference may be required. International Qualifications For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

Please note: The closing date for applications to this programme is Tuesday 1st August 2017 at 4pm. Applications received after the closing date will be regarded as LATE and will be considered only if vacancies exist when all applications received by the closing date have been processed. 


International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes. Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme.

Please click the links below for more information:

  • English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English

How To Apply

Applicants for Postgraduate programmes are strongly advised to carefully read the important information and follow the steps set out here before submitting their application via the Postgraduate Direct Applications Portal.

If you have queries on course content please contact the school representative below.

School Postgraduate Office
School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work
Tel: 9097 5117

Programme Director

Dr Emma Calvert

(Link to staff profile


How To Apply

Queen’s University Belfast Terms and Conditions 2017 Entry
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.

Career Prospects

Research skills are highly transferable and marketable, and needed across a range of sectors – academic, government, charities and business. MRes students receive advanced training in both quantitative and qualitative research skills as well as gain experience of independent project management through the dissertation. Graduates can use their qualification to develop a career in any aspect of social research. The MRes is also ideal high-level preparation for doctoral research (PhD).

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Find out more

Fees & Funding

There is a range of funding and scholarship options available to those considering study at Queen's.

Find out more

For tuition fee information see

Postgraduate loans
From the academic year 2017/18, the Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,280 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

For information on available funding, please see the School website.     

For general fees and funding information please see the University's Graduate School website:


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