School of Social and Political Science

Postgraduate research courses


The Social and Political Science Graduate School provides a broad range of social science research methods training for postgraduate researchers across the University of Edinburgh.

These courses form the shared core of our programme of research training in social and political science. The programme aims to equip postgraduate researchers with skills in key research methods, and in the use and interpretation of techniques for the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data.

The Graduate School research training programme is designed to meet the generic requirements of the ESRC Postgraduate Research Training Guidelines, and to provide additional subject-specific, and more advanced, training for students working in the core social science disciplines represented in the School.

Students beginning research degrees normally take a full programme of training courses in their first year of study. The courses are chosen in discussion between the student, supervisor, and Programme Director (for MSc students) or Postgraduate Advisor (for PhD students). The courses are also open to all postgraduate researchers, including students from outwith the School of Social and Political Science, students on some taught Masters programmes, and research students in the later stages of their degrees.

Most research training courses have their first meeting in week 1 of the semester, and run for 10-11 weeks. Schedules for each course are available via the links below.


We offer a set of ‘core skills’ courses.

Almost all our research students take one or more of these. The key introductory course in Data Collection is essentially made up of four two-week sections on what we see as the principal methods: documents and archives; interviews and focus groups; ethnographic observation; survey method. Each of these is explored in detail in more advanced, specialist options.

As well as in methods relevant to particular fields and topics, for example:

How to choose your courses

Student category