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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Making Use of Digital Research

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The application deadline for this programme is  17th August 2018.

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Study online for a recognised qualification in Digital Research

Contemporary interest in big data, data science and large-scale digital research presents an opportunity for researchers and practitioners alike. National and global strategy on gearing up for the challenges of big data means there has never been a better time for professional development. Join us.

"Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine." (Gartner Predictions)

This Postgraduate Certificate is aimed at commissioners, coordinators and users of digital research in business, policy-making and the third sector, including digital marketing and analytical services officers. The PGCert comprises a suite of courses that together provide the critical understanding and skills needed to make best use of digital research findings, with a particular focus on social media research, web 2.0 data and their synergies with publicly available ‘open’ administrative datasets. Based on the latest research into the social and economic influences on how digital research is being developed and used, this PGCert is designed both for novices and for more experienced professionals who need to maintain a critical appreciation of the fast moving field of digital research.

"I've seen too many organisations give up on finding answers in complex data; this is the first award-bearing programme that helps people without a data science background to transform their ability to share information and make it easily accessible." Duncan Chapple, Managing Director, Kea Company.

Student testimonials

"Due to the practical mix of backgrounds, the feedback and interaction with fellow students greatly enhances and contemplates the material that is provided in this course."

"What people are looking for now is a deeper understanding of how digital metrics come to be and what their significance is. That's what this course has provided so far."

Proven commercial value

This PGCert aims at creating career opportunities in the commercial sector and beyond (e.g. user experience consultants, industry analysts).

By offering a critical overview of digital research applications in different fields (user analytics, influence marketing and institutional reputation management), the PGCert will introduce students to a career in marketing and design as well as policy making.

Although each course is a self-contained learning experience, the Certificate is designed as a carefully thought-through progression from practical skills to a more critical understanding, through a comprehensive overview of available applications of digital research. The six courses are:

Learning outcomes

  • Understanding the production and consumption of automatic measures of user/citizen/customer feedback online;
  • Making best use of evidence from digital data analysis to inform business and policy decision-making;
  • Organizing interdisciplinary strategies for digital research groups;
  • Identifying and accessing relevant expertise to undertake digital research for business and policy;
  • Anticipating future evolution and potential use of the digital research service market.

Time commitment and costs

The PGCert consists of six 10-credit courses. It is designed as a part-time online offering to allow professionals to study while working. Applicants will have the option to complete the program in 12 or 24 months. Courses can be taken individually as CPD or together to form a PGCert.

The distance fomat enables students to study off campus which may help reduce study costs. Course fees for the 2015/16 intake are £3,950. There may be discounts available for University of Edinburgh alumni. See Scholarships and Student Funding Services for funding opportunities, or search for funding. Study fees offer remarkable value for money: commercial training certificates can cost between £800 and £2,500 for a 3-5 day course in introductory data science, and may not leave students able to critically apply skills. When taken in conjunction with available courses in data analytics and statistics a balanced skillset can be achieved, for those without significant prior experience.

Further information can be found on the postgraduate admissions webiste.

A renowned programme team

The course is directed by scholars from the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI) a research network established in 2000 to bring together groups of academics and individual researchers involved in research, teaching and knowledge transfer on social and policy aspects of science, technology and innovation.Gian Marco

Special guest lecturers: in addition we have confirmed a number of globally distinguished academics including Wendy Espeland (Northwestern), Rob Procter (University of Warwick), Noortje Marres (Goldsmiths, University of London).

"Having myself been involved in the development of doctoral training centre proposals, I am aware of the rapidly growing demand for technical skills in this area. This programme, with its focus on developing a critical understanding of digital research, fills what I believe is an important gap in current provision." (Professor Rob Procter, external assessor to Making Use of Digital Research)

A World Class learning environment

Online learning is a way of studying for an internationally recognised University of Edinburgh postgraduate qualification without needing to visit the campus. Online learning is predominately aimed at those who wish to study for a postgraduate qualification alongside ongoing work or other commitments.

High quality student experience is achieved through consistently and carefully designing learning materials and a pedagogical structure, ensured by the commitment of SSPS academic staff and the skills of a top quality instructional design team.

Each course will be tutored by a lead tutor. The lead tutor is the main contact for students. He/she is available throughout the duration of the course. He/she will deliver content as well as coordinating the contributions of guest tutors, identified by making use of expertise available in SSPS and beyond. The course will be delivered using media supporting both asynchronous and synchronous communication. Virtual classrooms will be held on a weekly basis, using Blackboard Collaborate.

The students' feedback structure is based on a 2-stage coursework assessment and a final exam in the form of a written essay. Coursework will be assessed through an assessment questionnaire and a group presentation.

The University is proud of its success with online teaching initiatives, with 1905 students currently studying its online distance learning postgraduate programmes, and a total to date of 471,695 enrolments for Edinburgh MOOCs.

More details on the proven online teaching methods we use can be found here.

For further information contact:


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