Taught course

Research Methods (Education)

Durham University · School of Education

Entry requirements

An honours degree at 2:1 (or equivalent). Significant relevant experience will also be considered.

Months of entry


Course content

The MA in Research Methods (Education) provides a broad-based practical grounding in research design methodologies with a specific focus on education.

This course delivers high-quality research methods for learning in education for students interested in theoretical and empirical understanding of research in social science, as well as those who plan to pursue doctoral level studies in the field of education. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognises the course as providing suitable training for this purpose.

The focus is on understanding research designs for conducting and evaluating rigorous research. Core modules examine the use of research tools for analysing and interpreting research data, this includes detailed discussion on formulating research questions, innovative research designs, and developing theoretical understanding of concepts, both in the field of education and across the wider social sciences.

You can also select from a range of optional modules, some of which are designed to further develop your research knowledge while others are specific to education. The MA dissertation gives you the opportunity to bring together the different areas of learning into an area of research interest.

The course is one of a suite of methods-based postgraduate degrees delivered at cross-faculty level with modules taught across the School of Education, the Department of Sociology, the School of Government and International Affairs, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Psychology. This provides wide-ranging opportunities for interdisciplinary study which can help you transition into careers in academia, the public sector, non-governmental organisations, charitable organisations, the business sector and more. Alternatively, it can serve as a stepping-stone to doctoral level studies.

Course structure

Core modules:

Research Design and Process provides training in research design and an understanding of the research process to prepare you for the MA dissertation/PhD research and careers in social research. You will develop an understanding of how to formulate and design a research project, the ethical, political and organisational issues involved in social research, and the processes and stages involved in planning a research project.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Research introduces contemporary social scientific research from an interdisciplinary perspective. You will explore complex causation and how it is addressed methodologically across different disciplines. The module also introduces design strategies and different disciplinary practices, and considers ethical issues in the conduct of social research, including issues of power and equality.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis equips you with the advanced knowledge and skills to understand, conceptualise and critically appraise qualitative social sciences research, including different approaches to research and design, and analysis of qualitative data. This module helps prepare you to carry out your own qualitative research projects.

Quantitative Methods and Analysis develops your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis. You will learn how to use statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets and to make appropriate statistical inferences about associations between social phenomena.

Experiments in Education explores the case for and against experimenting in education. This module will teach you to recognise a range of experimental designs and identify where it can be used; identify and minimise threats to the validity of causal inferences; analyse and interpret data from experimental research; and judge the quality of experiments.

Design and Methods in Education Research introduces key issues, terms and ideas in education research. It teaches a range of research skills including the evaluation of research techniques across different research contexts, and the ability to conduct a high-quality study. You will learn to recognise the different purposes of education research, understand key terms and vocabulary in education research, and develop a critical standpoint in relation to research in education.

The Dissertation is an opportunity to research and report on a topic of interest, under the guidance of a supervisor. Drawing on the research skills and techniques developed in core and optional modules the dissertation enables you to demonstrate your capacity for independent thought, critical thinking and analysis.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Systematic Review;
  • Secondary Data in Education Research;
  • Ethnographies of Education;
  • Measurement in Education Research;
  • Interviews;
  • Narrative Enquiries;
  • Advanced Ethnographic Research;
  • Multilevel Modelling;
  • Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences;
  • Simulating Data in R;
  • Participatory Action Research.

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
£9,900 per year
International students
£23,800 per year

For further information see the course listing.

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