MA in Sociology and Social Research

Why choose this course?

  • Combines thorough training in social research methods with their application to changes in contemporary society
  • Develops your understanding on a range of crucial sociological issues
  • Equips you with an up-to-date knowledge of the cutting-edge in sociological theory and methodology
  • Opens the way vocationally to both research at doctoral level and to work in the private, voluntary and public sectors.

Duration: Full time 1 year. Part time 2 years.
Start date(s): October 
Distance learning available: No
Intake: Approximately 10 per year

Entry requirements:
2.1 Degree in any discipline (or equivalent).
An overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of Band 7 in Writing and Band 6 in Speaking, Reading and Listening; or TOEFL 105 (with 25 minimum in Writing and Speaking and 23 minimum in Reading and Listening); or Pearson Academic results of minimum 68 in Writing and Speaking and minimum 61 in Listening.

Fees for 2014/2015*: 
UK/ EU: £4,700 
Non-EU: £13,000 

*These figures have not been confirmed, but they are expected to be approximately as stated. Part-time students pay a pro-rata version of full-time fees.

Application: We recommend that overseas students apply before the end of June due to visa requirements as these can take a few weeks to process.

Apply for this course online

We are in a time of immense social change, where the need for social research has never been greater. This MA programme equips students with the tools and knowledge to understand how and why social, political and cultural changes manifest themselves, both in the UK and internationally. It offers students a sound training in research methods and equips them with the cutting-edge in theoretical and methodological approaches. The MA is suitable both for those wishing to hone their skills and knowledge to pursue further academic research opportunities, and for those seeking a relevant and rigorous course which will prepare them for employment in the private, public or not-for-profit sectors.

Sample module options: The following module descriptions are indications only -  the University reserves the right to change the modules on offer, the module content and the assessment methods.

Core modules:
This module considers the nature of explanation and justification in the social sciences; ethical considerations in social science research design; qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection; qualitative and quantitative methods of data analysis; and efficient and effective presentation of research results in a variety of communicative formats. By the end of the module, students will be able to apply appropriate selected methods to their own research.

Assessment method: One essay (3,000 words) (60%). Completion of a 3 task-focussed continuous assessment (40%)

Key reading:

  • Bryman, Alan. 2008. Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Field, Andy. 2000. Discovering Statistics. London:Sage

  • May, Tim. 2001. Social Research. Buckingham: Open University Press.

The aim of this module is that students will go through the process of identifying, engaging with and sifting material in order to then construct a critical review of sources relating to the object of research. The module involves: critical reading at a sophisticated level; building awareness of methods and samples used in previous research and their limitations; and writing of summaries and abstracts.

Assessment menthod: 5,000 word critical literature review due in at the end of term (100%)

Key readings:

  • Hart, C.   2004 Doing a masters dissertation  London: SAGE

  • Ridley, D. 2008. The literature review: a step-by-step guide for students Thousand Oaks, CA ; London : Sage Publications

The aim of this module is for students to have demonstrated their capacity to carry out a research project; taken on board constructive criticism; reflected upon their experience and practice; and presented their findings in a dissertation at the appropriate level of expertise to complete a Master’s degree in sociology. Students are supported throughout by their dissertation supervisor.

Assessment method: 15,000 word dissertation (100%) which builds on already completed critical literature review (5,000 words), due in at the end of the programme.

Key readings:

  • Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (2007) Surviving your dissertation : a comprehensive guide to content and process London: SAGE

  • Miller, A. (2009) Finish your dissertation once and for all! : how to overcome psychological barriers, get results, and move on with your life Washington, DC : American Psychological Association

  • Roberts, C. (2004) The dissertation journey: a practical and comprehensive guide to planning, writing, and defending your dissertation. Thousand Oaks, CA / London : Sage

Elective modules:
This module examines approaches such as Positivism, Post-Positivism, Social Constructivism, Realism, and Actor-Network Theory. It also examines institutional and ethical aspects of the research process, analyzing the changing nature of knowledge production and application and the repercussions this has on research activity. Social Science practitioners will provide different perspectives from their field of expertise.

Assessment method: 4,000 word essay (100%), due in at the end of term.

Key reading:

  • Fuller, S. (2005) Kuhn vs. Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science. Columbia University Press. (available through Ebrary http://site.ebrary.com/lib/aston

  • Stehr, Nico (ed.) (2004) The Governance of Knowledge. New Brunswick, N.J., London, Transaction

  • Feyerabend, P (1975) Against Method. London: New Left Books.

This module considers a variety of debates in social theory and related areas and examines the approach taken by those attempting to comprehend the most intense of human experiences, including love, friendship, injustice, evil and death. The module considers the role of social analysis in relation to such topics and examine the consequences of applying a sociological eye to these questions.

Assessment method: 1,500 word essay due early on in the term, and a 5,000 word essay due at the end of the term.

Key readings:

  • Spencer, Liz; Pahl, Ray (2006) Rethinking Friendship: Hidden Solidarities Today, New Jersey, Princeton University Press

  • Wagner, Peter (2001) Theorizing Modernity: Inescapability and Attainability in Social Theory, Sage

  • Woodiwiss, Anthony (2005) Scoping the Social, McGraw-Hill Education


This course explores theoretical approaches to understanding, analysing and making social change. The concept is deceptively simple; the problems, complex. How and why do societies change, and why do they not? When and where does social change happen? How can social theory help us understand the nature, causes and consequences of social change, and can it help to inform political praxis? We will explore these and other questions throughout the course by studying a range of theoretical approaches to social change.

Assessment method: 1,500-word discussion paper (20%), staggered submission throughout the module. 4,000 word essay (80%), due in at the end of the module

Key reading:

  • Rothenberg, M. (2009) The Excessive Subject: A New Theory of Social Change, Cambridge: Polity. See especially Ch. 1, ‘What does the “social” in social change mean?’

  • Sewell, W.  H. (2005) Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Jagger, G. (2008) Judith Butler: Sexual Politics, Social Change and the Power of the Performative, London and NY: Routledge.

In this module we examine a variety of theoretical, historical and comparative debates on globalization. These debates are complemented with a range of case studies drawn from across the world. The module draws from a range of sources and students are encouraged to identify specific sources in their fields of interest to be used in later presentations.

Assessment method: 4000 word coursework essay due at the end of term (100%)

Key readings:

  • Arestis, P. 2008. Issues in Economic Development and Globalization. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Hayden, P. 2009. Globalization and Utopia. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Saad-Filho, A. and Johnston, D. 2005. Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press.
You will take part in interactive small seminars, presentations and group work. There are also opportunities for individual research and guided study. You will be allocated a personal tutor to whom you can turn for help and advice. Assessment occurs through essays and reports (for example, on the practical application of research methods), and a dissertation.
This new MA programme opens the way vocationally to both research at doctoral level and to work in the private, voluntary and public sectors.

Student Profile

Student Profile

Somia BiBi

MA in Social Research and Social Change

My research revealed that Aston University offers the best MA that fits with my interests. The Social Sciences School has a number of researchers and lecturers that specialise in fields that are of great interest to me.


Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries



Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research