Taught course

Social Research Methods (School of Law, Politics and Sociology)

University of Sussex · School of Law, Politics and Sociology

Entry requirements

A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree in a relevant social sciences subject, but applicants with other backgrounds may be considered. All applicants must supply a research proposal of at least three pages. The research proposal should indicate the areas of research you are interested in, summarise what you intend to do, give an indication of the research methodology you propose to use and a brief literature review. Please state at the top of your research proposal document the School and Department you wish to be affiliated to.

Please note that this requirement applies to all applicants irrespective of whether they intend to progress to the PhD afterwards.

Months of entry


Course content

If you are interested in studying for a research degree in the social sciences, or want to learn about research methods, you may consider our innovative MSc in Social Research Methods. If you want to study for a PhD, and are seeking ESRC funding, you will be required to take this or one of our other ESRC-recognised research-training Masters degrees, unless you have already achieved a similar level of research training at a university elsewhere.

At the end of your first year, you graduate with a Masters degree before proceeding to the PhD (this is called 1+3 study).

In the fields of economics, psychology and science, technology and innovation, our specialist Masters degrees are recognised by the ESRC as providing research training suitable for 1+3 study. All other social sciences at Sussex offer research training through the MSc in Social Research Methods. This is for students in the fields of anthropology, contemporary European studies, development studies, education, gender studies, human geography, international relations, politics, law, migration studies, social work and social care, and sociology.

The degree is designed to provide research training for those intending to move directly to doctoral study. It can also be taken as a standalone one-year degree if you wish to apply advanced research methodologies to an area of academic or policy interest without continuing to a doctorate.


Taught modules are variously assessed by term papers of 3,000-5,000 words or equivalent coursework portfolios. The research option is assessed by a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Course Structure

We continue to develop and update our modules for 2017 entry to ensure you have the best student experience. In addition to the course structure below, you may find it helpful to refer to the Modules list.

During the MSc you study the philosophical underpinnings of research, research design, research ethics, and both quantitative and qualitative methods. You also take a series of options on advanced research methods, which provide the key skills necessary for carrying out doctoral-level research. You also take a research option in your chosen discipline or interdisciplinary area, which comprises independent reading, attendance at research seminars, and regular individual supervisions with a dedicated member of academic faculty.

Autumn term: you take modules in introductory quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as Philosophy of Science and Social Scientific Research Practice or a theoretical core module within your chosen discipline.

Spring term: you take Research Design and Ethics and either three intermediate methods modules or one intermediate methods module and a subject-specific module. Intermediate methods modules include:

  • Action Research
  • Comparative Method
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Ethnographic Methods
  • Evidence for Policy and Practice
  • Participatory Methods
  • Policy and Programme Evaluation Research
  • Researching Childhood and Youth.

Summer term: you take a series of advanced methods options and undertake supervised work on a dissertation focused on research methods. This dissertation can be the full research outline for doctoral study.

Information for international students

Please visit: International qualifications for Masters courses or Fees and Scholarships.

Fees and funding

UK students
Please see our website
International students
Please see our website

Please visit our website for latest fees information: Social Research Methods

The University of Sussex aims to attract the most talented students to postgraduate study and offers one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university. For full details of our scholarships please visit: Masters Scholarships

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Services
+44 (0)1273 678655