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MSc/ Diploma in Social Science Research Methods (Social Policy)

Social Policy Pathway Information

Research training in Social Policy builds on a strong interdisciplinary social science research base within the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, and benefits from a close association with the other schools across the University. Students have the opportunity to engage with nationally and internationally recognised social policy research – working with academic colleagues with extensive experience of undertaking research with policy-makers, practitioners and stakeholders in a wide variety of settings.

This research training programme is well-established and recognised by the ESRC as part of the preparation for doctoral study. This pathway is also suitable for those working in social policy arenas who wish to develop their generic and specialist skills in social science research methods. Students undertaking the MSc in Social Science Research Methods undertake both generic research methods training and subject specific modules designed to develop skilled social policy researchers.

MSc Social Science Research Methods

The MSc Social Science Research Methods provides students with the opportunity to acquire generic research skills required by all social science researchers; as well as the subject-specific requirements of the Social Policy Subject Panel of the ESRC.

The programme is based on a modular structure of 12 modules and a research-based dissertation. Modules designed to equip students with generic research skills include Principles of Research Design, Qualitative and Quantitative Research. Modules designed to address the research skills and knowledge specifically required for researchers in social policy include Strategies of Applied Research and Research and Evidence-based Policy and Practice.  All the modules are taught by leading researchers in the field.

Students also then choose 20 credits’ worth of modules, all designed to open up specific areas of expertise and understanding relevant for social work research. These include the following types of modules:

Specialist methodological modules, designed to extend understanding and expertise in specific areas of methodology (e.g. Interviews and Interviewing; Discourse and Conversation Analysis);

Substantive options that cover a wide range of relevant knowledge for social policy (e.g. Community, Sustainable Health and Wellbeing; Penal Theory and Practice; Housing Strategies and Choices);

Option choices are made in discussion with personal tutors or supervisors, with specific reference to the proposed topics of study. Most are 10-credit modules, but there are also a few worth 20 credits. Taking a 20 credit module would mean having a heavier assessment load in one semester than the other.

Participating in the Social Science Research Community

In addition to the taught elements of the MSc, Social Policy students are required and encouraged to attend and participate in the activities of the School of Social Science’s research groups. Postgraduate students become members of at least one of the School’s research groups, all of which contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary research culture. Research groups hold regular meetings, providing social policy-related research. There is also currently a student-led ‘Policy Café’ which organises talks and discussion on applied research themes.

For further information please contact Dr Sally Holland