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MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods

Programme Structure and Aims

Postgraduate Student

Structure of the SSRM Programme

The programme has a modular structure, made up of 180 credits. Of these, 120 are allocated to the taught module stage – or Diploma – which is assessed by written coursework, oral presentations and examinations, and 60 to a research-based dissertation.

The programme is designed to meet the generic and subject specific requirements set out in the ESRC’s Postgraduate Training Guidelines.

For the taught component, students will be required to complete six 20-credit modules (5 core research modules and 1 pathway module). In all modules students have the opportunity to engage with literature and research relevant to their pathway.

Pathway Module
Foundations in Social Research Autumn term: The module introduces philosophical/theoretical concepts alongside practical issues of research method choice and design.
Qualitative Research Methods Autumn & Spring: This main aim of the module is to provide knowledge, training and practice in the collection, analysis and representation of qualitative data.
Quantitative Research Methods Autumn & Spring: This module introduces students to the systematic collection and analysis of quantitative data, including a broad range of commonly used statistical techniques.
Research Applications Spring term: This module critically explores the various applications of research to different settings. Students tailor their learning by selecting from a menu of options.
Core Competencies for Postgraduate Social Scientists Autumn & Spring: This module introduces students to essential postgraduate social science survival skills. The module ends with an end-of-year Student Conference.

The combination of modules taken by each student must accord with requirements of his/her chosen pathway. It is essential that every student discusses his/her route through the MSc/Diploma programme with his/her supervisor or personal tutor.

On successful completion of the taught component, students prepare a dissertation (of a maximum 20,000 words) to be submitted by mid-September. The 60-credit dissertation component requires independent study. Dissertation topics are chosen by the students in agreement with their supervisors.

The MSc will take one year to complete if on a full-time basis and will usually take two years (minimum) or three years if part-time. The Diploma will take approximately nine months to complete on a full-time basis. Diploma students are not required to complete a dissertation.

Aims of the SSRM Programme

The MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods aims to provide advanced training in research methods across the full range of the social sciences.  Students are provided with a thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of how to construct effective research studies, of the variety of data collection methods available to the social scientist and of the principal methods of analysing social data.  They are also introduced to the political and ethical frameworks within which social science research is conducted; and to some of the ways in which the results of social science research are disseminated.

At the end of the year, graduates are expected to complete the programme with:

  • A firm understanding of the variety of social science research methods and their application to different research problems and contexts
  • The knowledge to provide a philosophical justification for their own and others’ research, and to make informed judgements about competing theories based on different interpretations or conflicting sources of evidence
  • The research expertise to plan and conduct high quality doctoral level research
  • The practical knowledge and skills to conduct research in accordance with ethical guidelines
  • A developed understanding of a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as an advanced understanding of specialist techniques
  • The communication skills to present their research plans and progress clearly in oral and written modes to academic and non-academic audiences
  • A first-hand understanding of the research problems and methods of related social science disciplines
  • The foundations for further developing their employer-related skills (for example, in the three years of a PhD programme)
Key facts

Programme Director:
Dr Amanda Robinson

Length of course:
Full-time 12 months
Part-time 27 months

The MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods is managed by the SSRM Office in the School of Social Sciences (SOCSI).


"The practical research skills that I have developed feed directly into my current employment, improving my efficiency of data collection and the rigour of my research practices."

Researcher at the National Assembly for Wales, more student views

Programme Links

Cardiff University and ESRC logo

MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods (SSRM)

Contact the SSRM Office

  • SSRM Office
     Room 0.16
     Glamorgan Building
     King Edward VII Avenue
     Cardiff CF10 3WT
  • The SSRM Office is open 9am - 4:30pm
  • Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 5178
  • Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 0284