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MA Sociology


Programme Director: Professor Robert Miller 

sociology photo 1, building with painting of faces


The Masters/Diploma in Sociology is designed to provide training in advanced approaches to social theory, to further the understanding of the relationships between theory and observation, and to develop the capacity to apply contending theories to research problems. There are opportunities to take options that focus on Irish society and the course is led by researchers experienced at working in one of the most difficult and socially divided research environments in Europe.

The MA differs from the Diploma in the requirement of a research dissertation and is designed to provide sociological training which is both valuable in its own right and may serve as a stepping stone to Doctoral research.

The MA/Dip can be taken full-time over one year or part-time over two years. Masters students take four modules plus the double-weighted dissertation module. The Diploma requires the satisfactory completion of four modules. Three of the four modules are compulsory and one is elective. Modules currently being offered are:

Core Modules

SOC9012 Theory and Practice in Social Research Methods (Autumn Semester)

This module offers an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods and is designed for students with some basic knowledge but who seek further grounding. It is designed as preparation for undertaking postgraduate research and dissertation work. It also acts as preparation for the advanced quantitative and qualitative courses (SOC9008 and SOC9007) available in semester 2.

SOC9024 Key Debates in Social Theory and Practice (Autumn Semester)

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.

SOC9026 Dissertation

A dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words, based upon a small sociological research project that includes a reasoned description, relevant theoretical and substantive literature, the method(s) considered and employed in researching a manageable and clearly delimited topic, a thorough discussion of the research findings and an outline of the main conclusions of the project.

And Either/Or

SOC9007 Qualitative Methodology (Spring Semester)

The course addresses both theoretical and practical aspects central to the conduct of qualitative research.  It critically raises questions about the choice, role and value of theory and the manner in which this influences processes like data collection, analysis, interpretation and writing up.  There is also a major emphasis on the practical aspects of the research process.

SOC9008 Quantitative Research Skills (Spring Semester)

The course provides the 'quantitative perspective'.  It covers social survey design and probability sampling, probability statistical testing, and the use of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences to analyse social data.

Protest, Tour of the North

Optional Modules

SOC9022 Conflict and Change in Northern Ireland: Sociological Perspectives (Spring Semester)

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, community, ethnicity, inequality, crime, conflict 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.

SOC9025 Researching Religious Transformations in the Contemporary World

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, as well as within the island of Ireland. It is designed to help students understand the research process, which combines the generation of empirical data with its theoretical interpretation. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the diverse ways (both qualitative and quantitative) that religious transformations are currently researched by sociologists and anthropologists, and the leading role that such research plays in debates within the sociological study of religion. These debates include: secularisation; religious globalisation; public religion and the welfare state; the growth of spirituality; and the political management of religious diversity. Case studies of research into religious transformations will be taken from across the world, although one focus will be upon the island of Ireland. Students will learn to assess these case studies in terms of their research design, data analysis and theoretical interpretation. Students will also develop a capacity for making connections between different research projects, and between different debates.

Masters Handbook 2013/14

Entrance requirements

For entrance requirements, please refer to the online Coursefinder


The closing date for applications is normally 30th June however the School will consider later applications on an individual basis.

Applications are made via the online Application Portal

Fees-only bursary opportunities

A limited number of fees-only bursaries have become available for full-time Masters in Sociology applicants for entry September 2013.  The closing date to apply for the bursary is Sunday 30th June 2013.  Applicants are advised to indicate that they wish to be considered for the fees-only bursary in the funding section of their online application form.  Alternatively, applicants should email the School's Postgraduate Office at by Sunday 30th June to indicate that they wish to be considered for the bursary.