This programme provides practical, career-orientated training in social science research methods, including research design, data collection and data analysis relating to both qualitative and quantitative modes of inquiry.
Students will 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.
Social Science Research highlights
The PGDip 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.
World Class Facilities
- Queen’s Q-Step Centre: Queen's is one of 15 Q-Step Centres in the UK, established to provide a step-change in the social sciences with regards quantitative research training. This means that we are well placed to deliver a high level of training to our postgraduate students.
- ESRC doctoral research programme: The programme delivers training for QUB students part of the ESRC NINE Doctoral Training Programme.
Internationally Renowned Experts
- We are an international teaching team and are committed to research-led teaching, with modules reflecting our diverse range of expertise.
- Transferable Skills: advanced social research methods training, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. You will have the opportunity to specialise in particular methods and topics and become familiar with commonly used software, e.g., SPSS, Stata and NVivo.
- Student Choice: we have a wide and varied range of modules, reflecting staff expertise in research methodologies and substantive areas.
- Flexibility: the programme consists of taught modules delivered in the evenings and also full-day intensive sessions. The programme can be taken full-time or part-time. . Students can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate on successful completion of 60 CATS or transfer onto the MRes programme, in order to complete the dissertation (60 CATS).
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.
Approaches to Social Research (20 CATS)
This module offers an introduction to the different styles of social science 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 social science research and policy concerns. It is designed as preparation for undertaking postgraduate research and dissertation work.
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 science research.
The Sources and Construction of Qualitative Data (10 CATS)
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.
The Sources and Construction of Quantitative Data (10 CATS)
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
Qualitative Data Analysis (10 CATS)
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. 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.
Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational (10 CATS)
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 cover 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 granted an exemption from this module if they have already successfully completed a module that has the equivalent learning outcomes.
Quantitative Data Analysis: Intermediate (10 CATS)
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.
We offer a range of advanced modules in quantitative and qualitative research methods, for example, logistic regression, internet-based research and visual research methods. We also provide specialist modules which reflect the teaching team’s diverse research interests, from the social logic of emotional life to conflict and change in divided societies. 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 Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational). Please note that it is unlikely that all the following modules will be available for 2017/8. Please check with the Programme Director for queries about specific modules.
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.
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 research. This module looks at using the internet to find information, to identify populations and to conduct social research using methods such as online interviewing and online participant-observation.
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.
Social scientists are frequently interested in understanding change and stability over time. This module introduces a range of quantitative techniques for the analysis of longitudinal and repeated measures data that allows us to incorporate aspects of time into our research. We will discuss the rationale for examining measures over time and cover the unique issues involved with analysing longitudinal data. The objective of the module is to supply students with the necessary knowledge and skills to apply these methods to their own research; therefore the module will include hands-on practice analysing longitudinal data.
Advanced Quantitative Research Methods
Building upon the core quantitative training, this module will explore one or more techniques of more advanced quantitative analysis. Students will have the opportunity to further develop their knowledge and understanding of quantitative research methods and its application in addressing key research questions, drawing on recent survey data.
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.
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.
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.
People teaching you
Dr Emma Calvert
Research skills are highly transferable and marketable, and needed across a range of sectors – academic, government, charities and business. PGDip 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.
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 help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.
Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:
Additional Teaching Information
The programme is delivered in evenings and full day/half day sessions, including weekends.
Contact Teaching Hours per Week
Generally 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.
Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:
An overall mark of 50% is required to pass each module. PG Diploma students must obtain 120 credits at Master's level.
Note: CATS = Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme points. 120 CATS points are needed for a Diploma degree. CATS points are also used to assess the amount of fees that will be charged.
Modules have a broad range of summative assessment, from traditional essay through to short research reports involving original analysis of data. Some modules also offer the valuable opportunity for formative assessment, i.e., for feedback on their work which does not contribute towards the final module mark. All modules will allow for feedback during class, for example, asking questions and class discussion. We encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities.
The Graduate School
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.
Closing date for applications: Tuesday 31st July 2018.
Late applications may be considered.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
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.
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.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
- Academic English: 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.
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
|Northern Ireland (NI)||£3667|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB)||£3667|
|Other (non-UK) EU||£3667|
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2018-19 and relate to one year of study only. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs. If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
How do I fund my study?
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.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions 2018 Entry.
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Information and guidance for new students starting September 2018.