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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


MSc in Social Research

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The application deadline for this programme is 6 July 2020.

Do you want to improve people’s lives through your research and evidence? Would you like to work for government or an international organisation involved in social research? Perhaps you would like to undertake further study and need a firm methodological foundation on which to proceed? Or you already work as an analyst and wish to formalise your skills on a part or full-time basis? ​Whatever your subject or methodological background, the University of Edinburgh's MSc in Social Research is a flexible and comprehensive qualification that will make you a sought-after researcher combining strong quantitative and qualitative research skills with the theoretical training to contribute to important social research questions.

From September 2019 we are offering a new pathway in Social Research with Quantitative Methods open to students on our MSc Social Research subject to an assessment of prior training (determined during welcome week). Closely linked to Edinburgh Q-Step Centre, you will undertake training in advanced social statistics and data science always including hands-on opportunities to tackle social research questions using data from a variety of sources. You will be embedded within the wider research environment of quantitative social science within Edinburgh Q-Step Centre, one of the largest collection of quantitative social scientists in the UK, and will be welcome to attend our thriving seminar series. The rise of Big Data and the increasing linkages that are being made between social, administrative and biomedical datasets make this an exciting time to study quantitative social science!  If the quantitative methods pathway is of interest, note this in your application to the Social Research MSc and ensure you include details of your previous quantitative methods training in the information you provide. 

The opportunity to undertake a placement-based dissertation is a key aspect of the Social Research MSc and involve projects at a range of host institutions including the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and a range of third and private sector employers. Placement-based dissertations enable you to use your social research skills applied in a real world setting!

  • Update for 2020-21:

The Study and Work Away service will source desk-based/online research projects with organisations in the first instance for students to competitively apply to. However, any organisations that can commit to online research will also be asked to provide details of possible on-site research than can be done within the project. This is in case the impacts of Covid-19 have eased in 2021, and (only) if the University can endorse on-site research placements in semester two, as placements officially take place in May-June 2021.

The service will also launch mentoring opportunities for students to apply to; providing students with the chance to partner with organisations that are unable to provide online research. The mentors will be able to give students insights into their industry and encourage a student’s personal and professional development.



The MSc in Social Research at the University of Edinburgh will offer you the intellectual and applied skills to conduct social research that aims to solve complex policy and governance problems in contemporary societies. The programme is unique in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh as it is cross-disciplinary and structured so that irrespective of academic background and aspirations, it allows students to customise their degree to combine in-depth research skills with substantive teaching according to preferred areas of study and future career plans. As part of the programme, students may have the opportunity to apply for a Work-based Placement (dependent on first semester grade average), which provides valuable links to employers and vital employment experience. The MSc in Social Research has high employability rates – for more information, please contact and/or

Our graduates go on to:

  • Work for national and international organisations
  • Work for the civil service
  • Work in the voluntary sector
  • Work in the commercial research sector
  • work in policy development, analysis and evaluation
  • Undertake further academic study (PhDs)
  • Have strong quantitative skills to undertake data analysis
  • Have strong research methods training in qualitative methods

Further study

The University of Edinburgh is the hub for a Scotland-wide Doctoral Training Centre which is funded and accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This provides world-class postgraduate research and training in the social sciences across a wide range of disciplines, known as 'pathways'. The Scottish DTC offers, on average, 65 fully-funded ESRC studentships available for (UK and EU) students commencing their postgraduate studies each year. The MSc Social Research Methods is accredited for ESRC funding as part of a four-year award (see here). 

What our students say:

"The MSc programme strikes a good balance between the core modules on research skills and elective modules that allow you to pursue your own academic interests. The quality of training on both quantitative and qualitative methods is excellent, and I found the former to be particularly useful for my own research and in my new job. All the staff on the programme were incredibly helpful and supportive and were always quick to respond to any queries I had, whether they were to do with my studies or with how the course was run. My motivation for undertaking this Masters was to facilitate a career change into social research. After graduating, I have taken up a position as a Researcher with ScotCen working on a variety of interesting projects, from the study of public attitudes towards the Brexit process to evaluations of government programmes on childcare and mental health. As such, I would say that studying on this Masters was not only an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable experience in itself, but it also provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to make me a good candidate for research positions in a competitive job market".  Alex Scholes 2017-18

“One of the best features in this year’s course was the staff: the lecturers were helpful and willing to help, and delivered the sessions/lectures in a clear manner. The fact that many of the modules included guest speakers was a good addition to the course, as students were provided with practical examples regarding the content of the lectures”. Maria Komparou 2017-18

“Studying the Social Research MSc last year at the University of Edinburgh has been fantastic. The structure of courses in this programme is very comprehensive and easy to follow. It doesn’t matter which kind of research approach you are interested in, you can find courses to fit your aims, which also provide plenty of chances to put what you learn into practice”. Zhang Yunting 2017-18

"I have gained so much from the core modules and benefited so much from the learning environment provided by the school of social and political sciences. I have been impressed by the quality of lectures and support material provided to students which accommodate many different learning preferences and has enabled me to study part time around my work. In particular, I have been amazed at how easily the core quantitative data analysis module has transformed me from a person who avoids statistics like the plague into someone who is eager to use it in my own research – a turn around which after many years struggling with statistics I would have never foreseen! Indeed, although I initially enrolled on the postgraduate certificate course I have just transferred on to the full MSc in Social Research. The learning opportunities provided by this MSc, being in the beautiful, friendly city of Edinburgh and the friendly, helpful approach of the academic and non academic staff in the school has far exceeded my expectations". Esther Carmen, MSc in Social Research (part-time), 2013-15

How to Apply

Further guidance on how to apply and entry requirements, etc. is available on the Graduate School website.

Fees and Funding


Edinburgh4Learning  is an information tool for current students that can help you search for grants, awards and other funding which may be relevant to your learning.   

Bologna Compatibility

Like all University of Edinburgh Masters programmes, the degree is fully Bologna compatible, and is recognised across Europe and beyond under the principles of the Bologna framework. The programme comprises 180 Edinburgh credits, which are equivalent to 90 ECTS credits.

For more information

Contact Programme Director Dr Sophie Haines at

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