School of Social and Political Science

MSc Digital Sociology

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Introduction

The deadline to apply for September 2023 entry is Friday 30 June 2023.

Creatively study and analyse a world undergoing rapid digital transformation

Edinburgh is one of the leading international centres of excellence for postgraduate study in sociology.

The MSc in Digital Sociology directly responds to a growing need for graduates to be able to critically and creatively study and analyse a world that continues to undergo rapid digital transformation. Digital and computational sociology courses provide a vital theoretical foundation for understanding and analysing how digital technologies and data are shaping our social institutions, social relations, and everyday life. Our courses will enable you to conduct sociological research through new forms of social data, such as social media data, worker-generated data, and civic data.

This programme is intended for any student who wants to understand, as well as learn to study, analyse, and critique digital technologies and the complex ways in which they shape society, social institutions, and culture. While a sociological background is not required, some familiarity with the social sciences will be helpful for incoming students.

In our core courses, you will study the social conditions (economic, political, and cultural) that give rise to digital and mobile technologies and their circuits of power, as well as develop essential social data science skills to explore topics such as political protest, misinformation, the future of work, digital bias and discrimination, digital mobility and stratification, and digital culture and art.

Faculty profiles

Karen Gregory is a world-leading expert in digital work and digital sociology generally. She has co-edited Digital Sociologies—a key reference in the field of digital sociology. Her current research explores the nature of risk in the gig economy and the ways in which workers are gaining access to new forms of data to navigate and negotiate these risks. You can read more about this work at The Workers' Observatory, which Karen helped to establish in Edinburgh in conjunction with the Scottish Trade Union Congress and the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

"Logo of the Workers Observatory established by Karen Gregory"

Christopher Barrie is a political sociologist and computational methodologist who specializes in the study of protest, violence, and communication.

His research has helped answer questions that are currently dominating the headlines like: “how much misinformation is out there?” In particular, he has studied at countries often less well represented in this scholarship—like those in the Arabic-speaking world.

"Network graph showing clusters of disinformation producers on Twitter in Saudi Arabia"
Network of of disinformation producers on Twitter in Saudi Arabia
Structure

The intensive one-year programme will introduce you to key issues that arise when sociologists investigate the increasing prevalence of digital and mobile technology; digital infrastructure; and data production, capture and analysis in everyday life. 

This programme takes a unique approach to methods and methodologies, putting 'traditional' sociological methods such as ethnography, survey work, and interviewing in conversation with computational sociology and social data science.

In 2023/24 there will be a dedicated cluster of Social Data Science courses for the MSC in Digital Sociology. Students taking these courses will undertake specialized training in core analytical skills within the field of social data science (including natural language processing, network analysis, machine learning and prediction). In combination with other core courses in Digital Sociology, this will equip students with key analytical and programming skills required for evaluating and conducting data scientific work in the social sciences.

Hands-on, research-based methods seminars will take place on campus and the programme will draw on interdisciplinary expertise in:

  • Informatics
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Design Informatics
  • Digital Education
  • Edinburgh School of Art
Dissertation

You will complete a supervised dissertation project on a topic that you choose based on your interests and career plans.

Career opportunities

This degree is well-positioned for a wide range of careers in the public, private, and third sectors. It is particularly relevant for those who have aspirations for a career in digital research, internet research, digital social policy, or digital media design and development.

The programme is also key for those who wish to engage with digital technology and data in their own personal lives, or on a wider scale as an activist, artist, manager, or practitioner.

You will gain highly transferable skills in research, communication, and project management applicable to roles in many fields.

After graduating, you may go on to undertake roles in area including:

  • social media analysis
  • internet research
  • digital social policy
  • technology consulting 
  • journalism
  • education
  • law and government
How to apply

Application Deadlines

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please ensure that you have submitted all supporting documentation and paid the application fee before the deadline for the round you wish to be considered in.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2023-2024:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 27th January 2023 15th February 2023
2 28 April 2023 31 May 2023
3 30th June 2023 20th July 2023

 

 

 

Fees

Award Title Duration Study mode  
MSc   1 Year Full-time Tuition fees
MSc   2 Years Part-time Tuition fees
Additional information

Study in a dynamic environment

Students enrolled in the MSc in Digital Sociology will also have the opportunity to enrol in some EFI courses. See here for more information.

Our faculty are also involved in the Centre for Data, Culture, and Society. Dr. Karen Gregory co-directs the Digital Social Science Research Culture, which regularly hosts research seminars and workshops, which MSc students are welcome to attend. 

Our faculty have also brought the Summer Institutes in Computational Social Science (SICSS) to Edinburgh. Here's some information on the event we held in 2022.

Our faculty also convene the British Sociological Association’s Digital Sociology study group: https://www.britsoc.co.uk/groups/study-groups/digital-sociology-study-group/

Reading recommendations
Our faculty have written two field-defining books in Digital Sociology: