Taught course

Social Research Methods (Social Work)

Durham University · Department of Sociology

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Entry requirements

Normally a second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

Months of entry


Course content

This course provides an introduction to the principles and values of social work and an understanding of the organisation and delivery of social welfare and related services in the UK. It also provides you with a grounding in the social research methods necessary to conduct applied types of research that are a fundamental part of social work practice and evaluation.

This Masters degree is accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council for postgraduate research training through the Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership.

Course Structure

You will take a range of taught modules that will enable you to develop advanced understanding and skills in researching social work.

Those taking this course will study modules totaling 180 credits. Part-time candidates take an equal balance of credits in each year. Indicative content is listed below, based on modules delivered in previous years incorporating anticipated changes (subject to approval):

  • Social Work Context and Practice (30 credits): This thematic module introduces contemporary social work and social welfare in diverse societies, including related theories, practices and ethical frameworks.

A range of compulsory 15 credit research modules on topics such as:

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Social Research

  • Introduction to social scientific research.
  • Establishing cause and interpreting meaning in social sciences.
  • Essentials of research approaches in the social sciences.

Quantitative Data Analysis

  • Developing knowledge and skills in statistical analysis.
  • Using statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets.
  • Making appropriate statistical inferences and exploring associations between social phenomena.

Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science

  • Overview of qualitative research, including different qualitative. methodological approaches.
  • Practical issues in conducting qualitative research.
  • Qualitative data analysis.

Computational Research Methods in Social Science

  • Exploring complexity and case-based analysis approaches to data.
  • Review of related methodologies such as those involving data mining and big data.
  • Developing a working knowledge of several widely-used methods.

Research Design and Process

  • Formulating research questions and appropriate designs.
  • Evaluating and developing research. Proposals.
  • Planning and managing the research process, including practical and ethical issues, with a particular focus on supporting the dissertation research process.

In addition,you will take a relevant 15 credit optional module developing a particular aspect of research further; for example, in previous years, one option has been:

Participatory Action Research

  • History and origins of Participatory Action Research; key values and ethical/political issues.
  • Theorising and critiquing PAR.
  • Participatory approaches to research design, process, analysis, dissemination; and implementation, including working with partner organisations to influence change.

This Masters degree is completed by undertaking a 15,000 word dissertation (60 credits) based on a supervised research project.

Fees and funding

UK students
£8,700.00 per year
International students
£21,360.00 per year


Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details