The MA Social Research draws upon a wide variety of contemporary theoretical traditions including postcolonial theory, poststructuralism, discourse analysis, critical or subtle realism, and feminism.
The MA Social Research is located in a high ranking Sociology Department and draws upon a wide variety of contemporary theoretical traditions including postcolonial theory, poststructuralism to discourse analysis, critical or subtle realism, and feminism. The aim of the MA is to explore how these may present implications for methodological design and analytical strategies.
“The students clearly have access to an enthusiastic and dedicated teaching team and a well-designed course which provides robust grounding in key methods and cutting edge examples of how this work is conducted to stimulate critical thinking. Essay, report and dissertation structure allows the students to engage in depth with key methodologies and substantive fields of interest. The quality and consistency of feedback is a particular strength. Encouraging students to interrogate their interests and life experiences and to use data and methods accordingly makes their assessed work really lively and engaging.”
Professor Ann Kerr (University of Leeds)
The MA teaching is made up of lectures and workshops covering both qualitative and quantitative methods during which students are encouraged to try out, evaluate and sometimes combine different approaches. The range of methods covered include interviewing and observation, archival research, visual methods, ethnographic work as well as statistical analysis of large-scale quantitative data sets.
The dissertation research project assesses your proficiency in managing different types of data and your ability to design and carry out an original piece of research. Dissertation workshops will guide you as you prepare to undertake a substantive piece of research on a topic of your choice. The dissertation research will be supervised by an experienced member of staff.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Prof Les Back
Modules & structure
|Core Modules||Module title||Credits|
|Modelling Social Data I||30 credits|
|Modelling Social Data II*||30 credits|
|Theory, Concepts and Methods of Social Research I*||30 credits|
|Theory, Concepts and Methods of Social Research II*||30 credits|
Assessment consists of coursework, extended essays, reports, presentations, practice based projects or essays/logs, group projects, reflective essays, and seen and unseen written examinations.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
Sociology at Goldsmiths is ranked:
1st in London* 6th in the UK and 37th in the world**
9th in the UK for the quality of our research**
The Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths is active, contemporary and inventive. We are interested in everything from the ‘global’ issues of poverty and injustice to the ‘micro’ issues of cultural identity and the presentation of self in a digital world.
Our staff are some of the top academics in the world for this discipline – they’re the pioneers who are pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. They’ve played a key role in developing social research methods, setting agendas in social and cultural policy, and linking theory to practice.
Through their world-leading research you’ll be at the forefront of current debates and will be encouraged to see the world differently.
Find out more about the Department of Sociology.
*Guardian University Guide League Tables 2017
**QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
***Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
Suggested preliminary reading
Readings to help you prepare for the course
Social Science degrees vary in the extent to which they cover research methods. Applicants lacking a recent acquaintance with the basics of social research methods should consult one or more of the following:
- Seale, C, 2004, Researching Society and Culture, London: Sage
- Bryman, A, 2008, Social Research Methods, Oxford: OUP
Recommended Texts for course modules
Marsh, C, 1982, The Survey Method: The Contribution of Surveys to Sociological Explanation, (Chapters 2 and 3), London: Allen & Unwin
Healey, T. (2004 onwards) Statistics: A Tool for Social Research: International Student Edition. Wadsworths. Seventh Edition.
de Vaus, D 2002 Surveys in Social Research. 5th Edition London: Routledge
Jane Ritchie, et al 2013 , Qualitative Research Practice, London Sage Publications.
Those wishing to investigate recent debates on sociological methodology might consider reading:
Back, L, and Puwar, N, (2013) Live Methods, Wiley-Blackwell.
Byrne, D (2002) Interpreting Quantitative Data. London: Sage Publications.
Carter, B and New, C (eds) (2004) Making Realism Work: Realist Social Theory and Empirical Research. Routledge.
Law, J (2007) After Method: Mess in Social Science Research
Lury, C, & Wakeford, N, (201 Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. Routledge
Skills & careers
Skills and Careers
The programme will enable you to develop:
- the capacity to generate, execute and evaluate sociological research at an advanced level
- the ability to examine how social research and sociological knowledge can both influence and help us understand social, public and civil policies
- the ability to define, investigate, communicate and appraise empirical evidence
The MA is ideal research preparation for an MPhil/PhD and a future academic career in Sociology. A number of successful doctoral students have completed the MA Social Research before applying for ESRC funding and/or going on to successfully complete their doctorate. These include current members of staff. Also, the MASR has provided an excellent preparation for those entering the public, health and third/NGO sector with such organizations as the Resolution Foundation and the Parkinson’s Charity. Others have successfully competed for entry into the Civil Service ‘fast track’ scheme for government social research. Similar examples of success can be seen under student profiles.
Here are some of the topics chosen by students in the last few years:
- Critical Skateboarding on the Southbank
- An Ethnographic Study into London's Grime and Dubstep Scene(s) and the Politics of Essentialism and Hybridity
- Metaphors of fMRI: the metaphorical framing of a brain scanning technology
- Finding Traces: Modelling End of Life Decision Pathways in Medical Practice: A secondary analysis of quantitative data
- "I don't really think of it as a gated community": investigating security and community in the construction of home among London's gated women
- Political Technologies and (Re) Construction of Disabled People Between 1998 and 2008.
- 'Structure Liberates': Race, Class and the Construction of a School Ethos
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject.
You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.
As part of the admissions process, you may be offered an informal advisory meeting with the Programme Convenor.
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.
For this programme we require:
IELTS 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing
If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.
How to apply
You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system.
Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:
- Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
- An electronic copy of your reference on letter headed paper, or alternatively the email address of your referee who we can request a reference from. It is preferrs that you use an academic reference, however in cases where applicants are unable to provide one, a professional reference is acceptable.
- A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online.
- If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory).
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
When to apply
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.
Find out more about applying.