Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Methods of Social Research - PCert, PDip, MA

2018

The MA Methods of Social Research provides essential training for employment where an understanding of social research is important, as well as for further academic research in a social science discipline.

2018

Overview

This MA programme at Kent exposes students to a wide range of thinking and approaches in social science research presented in a multi-disciplinary context and at an advanced level.

The focus of the programme is on developing practical skills in data collection, in data analysis and interpretation, and in the presentation of research findings so that students gain insight into the research process from design to the production of new knowledge.

More generally students will broaden their understanding of the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues that matter in research, and will become aware of debates about the relationship between theory and research and between research and policy/practice.

About the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR)

Our School has a long and distinguished history and is one of the largest and most successful social science research communities in Europe. An impressive 94% of our research-active staff submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, with 99% of the research submitted judged to be of international quality.

The School supports a large and thriving postgraduate community and in 2010 distributed in excess of £100,000 in Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) quota awards, and in University and SSPSSR bursaries and scholarships to new students.

Academic staff specialise in research of international, comparative and theoretical significance, and we have collective strengths in the following areas: civil society, NGOs and the third sector; cross-national and European social policy; health, social care and health studies; work, employment and economic life; risk, ‘risk society’ and risk management; race, ethnicity and religion; social and public policy; sociology and the body; crime, culture and control; sociological theory and the culture of modernity.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research was ranked 2nd for research power in the UK. The School was also placed 3rd for research intensity, 5th for research impact and 5th for research quality.

An impressive 94% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 99% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research, gaining the highest possible score of 100%.

Course structure

Master's (MA)

The MA programme consists of:

  • four compulsory one-unit modules (total of 80 credits, 40 ECTS)
  • two optional one-unit modules or one two-unit module (total of 40 credits, 20 ECTS)
  • and a supervised dissertation (60 credits, 30 ECTS).

The compulsory modules are:

The dissertation will be on a topic of your choosing and involves carrying out original empirical research using the research methods covered in modules.

Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma (PCert/PDip)

There is the option to take this programme as a Postgraduate Certificate, where you just take the four compulsory modules (80 credits). The Certificate is offered to all registered PhD students (part-time or full-time) within the Faculty of Social Sciences (not only to SSPSSR students) free of charge subject to supervisors’ consent.

You can also take it as a Postgraduate Diploma, where you take the four compulsory modules and two optional modules but without taking the dissertation (120 credits).

Full time or part time?

The Programme can be taken either full-time over one year or part-time over two years. For part-time students, in the first year you take 'Design of Social Research' and 'Qualitative Data Analysis.' In the second year, you take 'Quantitative Research' and 'Using Research – Advanced Critical Skills'. Additional credits will be obtained from optional modules offered within the Faculty.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year. Those students who wish to follow a sociology pathway should take optional modules that focus on sociology or social policy:

Modules may include Credits

This course provides students with the understanding and skills necessary to use research, whether within a research career or outside of it. Building on other training in the details of specific methods, it focuses on two sets of broader questions. Firstly, it looks at uncertainty in social research – how confident are we about what we know? In answering this question it looks at issues of quality in qualitative and quantitative research, the difficulties of causal inference and generalisation, coming to conclusions from research reviews, and philosophical issues around ‘truth’ and values. Secondly, it looks at the link between research and action. In doing this, it goes from the very practical (how to ensure that your research is used by policymakers and/or practitioners, and to deal with the political pressures on researchers) to the conceptual (in what ways does evidence get used by wider society?) to the normative (should researchers be ‘critical’, and if so, what are their ethical obligations in doing this?).

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Module Summary:

This module aims to provide students with the skills to develop a research idea and to turn this into a coherent, achievable – and interesting! – research proposal. The course will be particularly useful for those doing empirical research in their MSc or PhD dissertation, or who will use social research after their studies.

In developing these skills, the course also provides an introduction to research methods and methodological debates. It will cover:

1. Key skills in research design – developing a research question; writing a research proposal; and ‘real-world’ considerations like ethics, cost, and feasibility;

2. Qualitative research design – an overview of different types of qualitative methods and the logic of qualitative design; when to apply qualitative methods; and key design issues such as choosing cases and planning qualitative analysis;

3. Quantitative research design – an introduction to the logic of quantitative research, and key issues such as turning the social world into numbers; when to apply quantitative methods; issues surrounding generalisation; how to interpret quantitative analysis results, and an introduction to the most common form of quantitative analysis;

4. Mixed-methods designs, which combine qualitative and quantitative research.

This course is complementary to the specialist courses in doing qualitative (SO817) and quantitative (SO819) research, and the course ‘Using Social Research – Advanced Critical Skills’ (SO832).

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This module focuses on the theory and practice of qualitative research. It explores the various aspects of using and collecting qualitative data. The aim of the module is to illustrate a range of practical techniques while considering related problems of evidence and inference in qualitative analyses.

Students will be versed in a range of techniques and will have the opportunity to practice some of them, this includes:

• the theory and practice of interviewing and different varieties of interview;

• focus groups;

• oral history;

• case study methods;

• ethnographic theory and method;

• action research;

• critical discourse analysis;

• narrative analysis;

• visual methods.

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The module will provide an introduction to the use of Statistical Analysis within the Research Process. It will begin by introducing and discussing different types of measurement and the practical problems of data entry in SPSSW. After discussing basic data description and transformation the focus will shift to Exploratory Data Analysis and the need to examine the data carefully. Simple approaches to summarising data and distributions will then be examined. This will then be followed by methods to test research hypotheses through bi-variate and multivariate methods that are used extensively in the Social Sciences. The final part of the module will look at various issues surrounding the practical issues of quantitative data analysis, such as how to find appropriate data and about presenting research outcomes.

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This module is particularly concerned with the forms and outcomes of the political contention and mobilisation around environmental issues, ranging from pressure groups, formal environmental movement organisations and Green parties to local environmental activism and radical environmental protest. It also considers the relationship between democracy and the environment: is democracy good for the environment? Would more deliberative forms of democracy improve matters? The approach is cross-nationally comparative and will also consider issues of global environmental politics.

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The module is organised around the general theme of a discussion of current debates in the sociology of health, illness and medicine drawing on both theoretical and empirical research. More specific themes will include: the social construction of health and the changing boundaries between health and illness; medicalisation and the discovering of new mental and physical illnesses ; narratives of illness and identity in the context of chronic illness and disability assessing the value of concepts such as ‘biographical disruption’: the changing structure, nature and regulation of medicine and the explanatory power of the new sociology of professionalism.; the political sociology of medicine which explores the relationship between the state and organised interests such as the pharmaceutical industry; changing approaches of the public /patients to maintaining health and managing illness in the context of a culture of consumption where health and lifestyle might be seen as commodities and maintaining a healthy body keeps control over an uncertain and changing world ; trust, risk and mental health ; consideration of the growth in the use of non orthodox health care and the development of medical pluralism and a discussion of the relationship between structure and agency in the context of social inequalities in health.

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This module examines how postcommunist, transition and developing countries respond to the liberal democratic political order, critically exploring the economic, social and moral aspects of neoliberalisation in the southern hemisphere. Notions of power, the state, class, agency and morality are central to considerations of social and political change. Several key topics, including gendered politics, state corruption, international aid, global finance and fraud, slums and migration, will be discussed. The module is interdisciplinary, giving students the opportunity to engage with key ideas and studies from sociology and political science to development studies and ethics. Each week students will explore a broad range of literature, spanning from political sociology to moral economy, so that students gain a deeper appreciation of people' politics and values in emerging and newly liberal societies.

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This module will examine the ways in which violence is understood in social science research, and will provide advanced discussion of the major theoretical and research themes involved in the analysis of violence. It will critically examine data on the prevalence, nature and effects of violent crime, and will consider issues of violence, aggression and masculinity. This will be done with particular reference to examples, such as racist crime, homophobic crime and domestic violence. The module will approach violence from both interpersonal and societal perspectives and will include consideration of collective violence and genocide. It will further examine solutions to solutions to violence and conflict resolution, the effects of intervention strategies and non-juridical responses to violence.

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The module provides an up to date overview of how key social science thinkers from across the social sciences have understood and analysed the relevance and contribution of civil society in their models and theories. It explores how contemporary scholars have continued to use their ideational frameworks to explore current social, political and economic problems and issues. It starts by acknowledging some of the key antecedents to contemporary notions of civil society in classical and pre-modern thought, and then systematically reviews how leading theorists of, and commentators on, post Enlightenment social and political developments have defined this sphere, and accounted for its roles and contributions in their formulations. Most of these writers have crossed what we now think of as disciplinary boundaries In each case, their basic socio-political models are reviewed, their accounts of civil society explicated and critiqued, and the applications of their contemporary interpreters to civil society issues explored.

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1. Introduction: The Sociology of Risk

2. The Social Semantics of Risk in Historical Perspective

3. Ulrich Beck and the ‘Risk Society’

4. The ‘Cultural Theory’ of Risk

5. Governmentality and Risk

6. Reading / Essay Writing Week

7. The ‘Perception of Risk’ in Sociological Perspective

8. The ‘Management of Risk’ in Sociological Perspective

9. Risk in Mass Media

10. Risk, Subjectivity and ‘the endangered self’

11. Transnational Risks and Civil Society

12. World Risk Society: Retrospect and Prospect

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This course is designed to provide a guide to the foundations of sociology by exploring the most influential traditions of writing in the discipline and examining how these were forged on the basis of an ongoing dialogue with the legacy of the Enlightenment. After situating sociology in its historical, philosophical and theological contexts, the course analyses how the founders of the discipline developed a series of a competing visions of those processes elementary to social and moral life. Focusing mainly on the French and German traditions of sociology, but also incorporating the British tradition, we progress by examining the tensions that have arisen between collectivist visions of the social whole and competing conceptions of voluntarist inter/action, before focusing on Parsons’s attempt to reconcile these approaches within an overarching conception of ‘the sociological tradition’. The second part of the course moves away from these classical visions of sociology to those post-classical attempts to reconstruct the discipline on the basis of alternative concerns such as conflict, culture and post-modernity. Here we study a number of perspectives that have contributed to a fragmentation of the discipline. Whilst most sessions are concerned with debating the dominant theoretical interests that have defined the discipline, others are devoted to investigating key junctures in the development of methodology and research practice. The course aims to provide students with critical insights into the ways in which sociology has been configured as a discipline in response to key junctures in its history.

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The approach of the course, like its subject matter, is inter-disciplinary, drawing on sociology, political economy and policy studies.

It covers:

- The value of a comparative approach to social policy and some of the problems in carrying it out

- The main theoretical approaches

- The way welfare states have been categorised

- Welfare in the less-developed world

- Migration and the welfare state

- EU and the Europeanization of social policy

- Globalisation and the welfare state

- Likely future developments in social welfare

The course will equip you to understand the ways in which scholars have approached the subject of the welfare state and also convey knowledge on some of the major issues in welfare.

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The module provides an up to date overview of the range of contributions of the third sector to economic, social and political life. It includes analysis of definitions and categorisations, and the problematic boundaries between OCS, the third sector, the State and the market; foundational theories of third sector existence, organisation, functioning and behaviour; attention to the historical and current public policy agenda in relation to OCS and the third sector, in the UK and internationally; and reviews important approaches to ‘evaluation’ in the third sector.

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This course focuses on key challenges for International Social Policy through systematically differentiating and analysing key fields and issues. In this way, the student is provided with a systematic overview of some of the main spheres in which international and national social policy agendas co evolve. Individual social policy fields include extended working life and retirement; health; social security, migration policy and social care; with related issue areas including social exclusion and urban policies. While many policy domains are under pressure to change in the context of common socio-economic and processes – including population ageing, globalisation, and international migration -the response to these pressures will vary depending on a number of internal and external socio-economic and political factors, whose configuration will vary markedly by country and policy field.

The course follows and complements the first core module of the International Social Policy MA (SO872 International Social Policy). The two modules together form a cohesive and coherent approach to social policy from an international and comparative perspective, although the Key lssues module is also self-contained and accessible in its own right to students of other MA programmes

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Social theory is a nebulous field of inquiry with fuzzy boundaries. Some of the most significant contributions to it in terms of ideas and concepts have historically originated in the work of thinkers diversely identified with a wide range of disciplines - such as psychoanalysis, philosophy, anthropology, literary and aesthetic theory, historical and cultural studies, as well as with sociology. This module approaches contemporary social theory by exploring a set of themes through close readings and analyses of several texts by 20th and 21st century theorists whose work has been to varying degrees appropriated across the social sciences and the humanities, but yet whose contribution to ‘social theory’ per se is still open to question, in any case far from canonical.

In working through these selected primary texts within a seminar group, the aim is to critically investigate and evaluate what they offer to social theory, and to critically assess their usefulness for understanding various social and political phenomena characteristic of contemporary life and society in a globalised world. During the course of such detailed discussions, we will also, no doubt, reflect on the distinction between modern and postmodern social theory; the ‘linguistic turn’, the ‘cultural turn’, the ‘ethical turn’, the shift from narrative to image based culture, and other general parameters of social theorizing in recent times.

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In summary, ‘social suffering’ calls for a new project of social science. It involves researchers in the attempt to understand how social and cultural conditions moderate the experience of suffering. It also brings a critical focus to the ways in which such experience serves to expose the moral character and structural force of society within people’s lives. Whilst attending to the particular ways in which individuals struggle to make ‘the problem of suffering’ productive for thought and action, it also works to understand how, through to the level of collective experience, this contributes to wider dynamics of social change. This course examines these cross-disciplinary issues and debates with the aim of assessing their sociological significance and political implications.

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This module examines the way work shapes society and in turn how society shapes work. Drawing on the fields of sociology, cultural sociology, social policy as well as other disciplines this module explores work in a variety of competing and complementing ways and in doing so offers students a chance to appreciate different themes, issues, methodologies and approaches. These include work identity and meaning; age, generation and class; visual methods and approaches; the cultures of work; work/life balance and the end of work.

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The course aims to develop an empirically grounded and theoretically engaged understanding of key debates in the contemporary governance of science and technology. It is interdisciplinary, bringing together perspectives from across the social sciences, science & engineering and the humanities to explore the social, political, economic and ethical implications of scientific progress. It takes on a global perspective and identifies key actors and processes in the normalization of scientific practice. Indicative topics include:

• From sociobiology to biosociality: Introduction to the social studies of science

• The captain and the steward: Changing relations of scientific and political authorities

• Global harmonization of national policies: Examples from life sciences and climate sciences

• Institutionalization of knowledge and non-knowing

• Bio-terror versus bio-error: Biosecurity after synthetic biology

• Bioethics and the domestication of technology

• The political economy of biopower

• ‘Communities of fate’: governmentality and biological citizenship

• Better-off when handicapped? Boundaries and fairness in human enhancement

• The art of representing science: The role of art and new media in scientific outreach

• The cosmopolitanization of science: Dependence and interdependence of world innovation

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The aims of this module are twofold:

First, to provide students with the opportunity to independently carry out an in-depth inquiry to investigate a research question(s) of their choice, producing a coherent review of the relevant literature, a logical discussion and a clearly communicated set of conclusions in the form of a dissertation.

Second, to prepare students to become ‘research-minded’ practitioners in order that they have the capacity to undertake research in practice settings and/or take a lead role in supervising others in such work.

The following represents the likely format for curriculum delivery:

In mid-November, there will be a two-hour workshop, which will outline the aims, the structure, the process of the dissertation. During the spring term, the students will finalise their proposal with their chosen supervisor. If the dissertation requires ethical research approval, an application will be submitted to the school research ethics committee by the beginning of the summer term. During the summer term and vacation, students will meet their supervisor every fortnight to discuss the progress of their dissertation. The supervisors will provide feedback on written work and will set monthly work plans and targets for the students. The dissertation topic will relate to a key question, issue and problem within social science.

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Teaching and Assessment

Teaching for the MA will take a variety of forms, including lectures, tutor-led seminars, student-led seminars, small group work, workshops on data analysis, guided search of on-line data sources, and self-directed learning based on the University Library.

Students will be assessed in each module and on a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice.

Module assessments vary. Some require either one 5,000-word or two 2,500-word essays; others require more of a portfolio of work, including in-class tests. The individual module outlines contain the necessary information on assessment.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide appropriate methods training for students preparing an MA dissertation or MPhil/DPhil theses, or for students going on to employment involving the use of social science research
  • introduce you to a variety of different approaches to social science research, presented in a multidisciplinary context
  • cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating these into practicable research designs
  • make you aware of the range of secondary data available and equip you to evaluate their utility for research
  • develop skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary context
  • introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and the debates about the relationship between theory and research, the problems of evidence and inference, and the limits of objectivity
  • develop skills in the use of SPSS and other statistical techniques of data analysis, including multivariate analysis
  • develop skills in writing, the preparation of a research proposal, the presentation of research results, and verbal communication
  • help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, such as seminar papers, conference presentations, reports and publications to a range of audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users and the general public
  • give you an appreciation of the potential and problems of social research in local, regional, national and international settings.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the theoretical basis for social science research
  • ethical and methodological issues in social science research
  • the strengths and weaknesses of different epistemological approaches used within the social sciences
  • common research techniques used in social science research
  • sources of secondary data and how to access them
  • the common statistical techniques used within social science research
  • the political and policy contexts within which research takes place
  • the reflexivity of research in the social sciences.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to identify research questions and hypotheses
  • the ability to select a research design appropriate to the questions being asked
  • the ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different research techniques.
  • the ability to plan and develop a research proposal
  • the ability to combine quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • the ability to criticise other research studies and the methods used in them
  • the ability to present results in ways which contribute to knowledge in that field.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to identify research questions and hypotheses
  • the ability to choose research methods appropriate to the research question.
  • a familiarity with the ethical issues involved in research and with ethics application guidelines
  • the ability to choose a valid sample from the population of interest
  • the ability to design and produce questionnaires and other data collection instruments
  • the ability to use participant observation and focus groups in research
  • the ability to use comparative and longitudinal approaches
  • the ability to make use of existing library and documentary material
  • the ability to access the UK Data Archive and make use of survey data from that source
  • the ability to record, store and present quantitative data using SPSS
  • the ability to use statistical techniques appropriately and critically to support your research
  • the ability to evaluate the use of basic statistical methods in the research literature
  • the ability to plan and carry out structured and semi-structured interviews
  • the ability to analyse qualitative data from interviews, focus groups and other sources
  • the ability to analyse observational and life history data
  • the ability to analyse textual data and documentary sources
  • the use of computer-assisted packages for data handling
  • preparing research results for publication and dissemination.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • managing your own time, prioritising workloads and recognising and managing stress
  • using problem-solving skills in a variety of different situations
  • the ability to take responsibility for your own learning and professional development
  • the ability to communicate with a wide range of audiences in written and oral media
  • the ability to use ICT to access information, process data and text, communicate with others and present research results effectively
  • an understanding of the career opportunities in your own fields and beginning to plan for your future.

Careers

Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we place considerable emphasis on you gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject alongside core transferable skills.

We ensure that you develop the skills and competences that employers are looking for including: research and analysis; policy development and interpretation; independent thought; writing and presentation, as well as time management and leadership skills.

You also become fully involved in the professional research culture of the School. A postgraduate degree in the area of social and public policy is a particularly flexible and valuable qualification that can lead to many exciting opportunities and professions.

Recent graduates have pursued careers in academia, journalism, local and central government, charities and NGOs.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The atmosphere in the School is informal and friendly and has at its centre a lively and diverse postgraduate community. The weekly staff/postgraduate seminar series is designed to introduce you to the work of major scholars from the UK and abroad, and there is also a wide range of other seminar and workshop series each academic year.

Our postgraduate students have access to dedicated office space within the department and are able to take advantage of excellent library and computing facilities. Where appropriate, research students are encouraged to expand their experience by teaching part-time in the School.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Social Policy; Journal of European Social Policy; Voluntas; Social Policy and Administration; and Social Policy and Society.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in a relevant subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider applicants who have not followed a conventional education path and these cases are assessed individually.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Academic staff at Kent share a number of interests, grouped here for your guidance. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups and your research project does not have to fall neatly within any one of them. The School also has several research centres that bring together experts in the field, co-ordinate research, organise talks and offer opportunities for postgraduate students to get involved in discussions and research projects.

The Civil Society

Staff in this research cluster seek to: understand the social forces and cultural interests that move people to take moral responsibility for responding to/caring for the needs of others; document and explain the institutional organisation of charitable behaviour and its social impacts; the socio-cultural dynamics of philanthropic behaviour and its effects on society. They also perform research into contemporary humanitarianism and its powers of influence over social policy and political process; and the character of the social ties and cultural values that structure the interrelationships between humanitarian action, charitable endeavour and philanthropic intervention; as well as the bearing of government policies and governmental processes upon the charitable sector and philanthropic activity.

Cross-National and European Social Policy

Using the framework of studying different welfare regimes, academic staff research a wide range of topics, while postgraduate students conduct research projects in every part of the world. Many of these projects involve overseas students making comparative studies involving their own country and European or UK services. The work of academic staff has resulted in a wide range of policy research related to Europe. Recent cross-national work has included projects examining home care services for older people, formal and informal social care systems, institutional change and the future of welfare reform, industrial relations, housing and community activism. Other interests include globalisation and welfare, and subsidiarity and convergence. Current or recent thesis topics include: democratisation and social policy in Korea; youth homelessness in Greece and the UK.

Health and Social Care

Present studies cover a range of issues within the fields of health services, social work and health policy. Particular interests include health care organisation and policy; risk assessment and management; primary care; public and user views of health care; health inequalities; occupational therapy; care work in health and social care; adoption; foster care; adult attachment theory; mental health; child protection; body work; psychoanalysis; race, ethnicity and health. Current or recent thesis topics include: women’s health in Uzbekistan; improving men’s health: the role of healthy living centres; women, the body and madness.

Migration and Ethnicity

Though socially and discursively constructed, ‘race’ continues to be a key basis of social division and identification in British society, across Europe, and globally. Not only do many disparate ethnic minority groups continue to identify along ethnic, racial and religious lines, but ethnicity and race continue to shape a variety of outcomes, such as employment, educational attainment and senses of ‘belonging’. In this sense, ‘race’ and the recognition of difference continues to matter and is a key element in the School’s research interests.

Risk and Uncertainty

The critical analysis of risk and perceptions of risk have become central issues in the sociology of the ‘risk society’ and this is an important focus of activity in the School. Staff research includes work on health risks and their management, the implications of attitudes and behaviour concerning risk for the welfare state, the development of a culture of risk and anxiety, moral panics, risk and crime, risk and the life course, suffering, and the perceptions of new communications technology.

Work and Economic Life

Interest in the issues surrounding work stretches across SSPSSR and current projects focus on work identity and meaning; work/life balance; age, generation and employment; visual representation of work; deindustrialisation; organisational sociology; gender, ethnicity and class at work; historiography of work sociology; moral economy; workplace ethnography and oral histories.

Research centres

The School also has several research centres that bring together experts in the field, co-ordinate research, organise talks and offer opportunities for postgraduate students to get involved in discussions and research projects.

Centre for Child Protection

The Centre for Child Protection is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and is the first centre of its kind in Europe. Combining research with distance learning programmes and a range of innovative serious training games, the Centre for Child Protection is leading the way in building knowledge and training opportunities for professionals working in this area.

We aim to:

  • develop innovative techniques for professional training and support
  • translate and apply the latest research and knowledge to inform best practice
  • create diverse and flexible learning programmes
  • address gaps in post-qualification training provision and opportunities
  • facilitate safe and realistic environments in which child protection professionals can develop and enhance their skills and professional practice.

The Centre is led and informed by a team of experts in the field of child protection. With many years of experience in both research and practice, we are committed to improving the provision of continued professional development to enhance the skills of those involved in child protection.

Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS)

The Centre for Health Services Studies has a strong record in attracting research grants from the National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework Programme, ESRC, Department of Health, as well as local health authorities and trusts. It is a designated NIHR Research Design Support Service. Particular areas of expertise include pragmatic trials, risk assessment and management, care of vulnerable adults including older people, and public health.

Centre for Philanthropy

Dedicated to an understanding of the social processes and cultural experiences by which people acquire moral dispositions to care for others, the Centre for Philanthropy offers a focal point for much of this work. Research is conducted into the ways in which our capacity for feelings are socially cultivated, corporately structured, politically mediated and economically expressed. The School is also linked to the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC), collaborating with the University of Birmingham on third sector theory and policy analysis.

Centre for Social and Political Movements

The Centre was established in 1992 in order to consolidate Kent’s leading position in the study in Britain of social and political movements. The Centre is actively involved in international networks of social movement researchers through its participation in the Erasmus network on ‘Social movements, conflict and political action’ and through its members’ activity in the relevant research committees of the International Sociological Association, the European Sociological Association, and the European Consortium for Political Research.

Centre for Social Science and Risk

The Centre conducts research into the concept of risk and uncertainty: how and why risk is manifested and how it is experienced in today’s society. Staff take an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing upon sociology, law, social psychology, and history. The Centre’s research seeks to understand causal issues from the perspectives of both individuals and organisations while considering the wider political and social context.

Personal Social Services Research Unit

The PSSRU is the largest social services research unit in the UK, and operates at three sites: the University of Kent, the London School of Economics and the University of Manchester. Facilities include the Griffiths Library of Community Care, a reference library of more than 10,000 books, journals and other literature linked to the Unit’s field of study. Research focuses on needs, resources and outcomes in health and social care: major concerns are resourcing, equity and efficiency from the perspective of users, agencies and others. The Unit has developed a distinctive analytical framework called the ‘production of welfare approach’ to illuminate this research.

Q-Step Centre

The University of Kent is one of 15 universities in the UK to have a Q-Step Centre, significantly funded by HEFCE, the Nuffield Foundation and ESRC, to provide students with advanced training in quantitative methods in social sciences.

The Centre is based in SSPSSR and incorporates teaching from Politics and International Relations, Law, Business and Liberal Arts. At its heart is the delivery of quantitative skills training in a subject context, a community-based project and professional placements. Quantitative Methods (QM) training, which greatly enhances employability and provides a deeper and more secure grasp of the quantitative skills needed to evaluate evidence and analyse data within a discipline, is delivered in a practical and engaging manner.

Tizard Centre
The Tizard Centre is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and has excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments. The Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual disability and community care, and in 2013 received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas.

Our primary aims, through research, teaching and consultancy, are:

  • to find out more about how to effectively support and work with people with learning disabilities
  • to help carers, managers and professionals develop the values, knowledge and skills that enable better services
  • to aid policymakers, planners, managers and practitioners to organise and provide enhanced services.

The Tizard Centre is recognised as leading the field in deinstitutionalisation and community living, challenging behaviour, quality of staff support, sexuality and autism, and has had a significant impact on national policies in these areas. We are committed to addressing issues arising from social inequality.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Ben Baumberg Geiger: Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy

Disability; the workplace; inequality; the benefits system; addictions policy; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); the relationship between evidence and policy; stratification across the lifecourse; new ideas for the welfare state.

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Dr Heejung Chung: Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy

Employment insecurity perceptions; work-family conflict and gender gaps; flexible working time arrangements; support for child care in Europe; youth in the labour market after the crisis; relative importance of social life and the role of the welfare state; gender norm dimensions.

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Dr Dawn Lyon: Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Sociology of work; migration; visual sociology; gender relations; comparative cultural sociology (especially France and Italy).

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Dr Trude Sundberg: Lecturer in Social Policy

Research methods and comparative welfare issues.

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Dr Robert de Vries: Lecturer in Quantitative Sociology

Social stratification and social comparisons, cultural consumption, health inequalities, social attitudes and stereotypes (particularly with respect to welfare benefit claimants). 

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Dr Tina Haux: Lecturer in Quantitative Social Policy

Family policy, parenting, family separation, lone parents, welfare-to-work, social justice, evidence-based policy-making and, increasingly, longitudinal research methods, comparative social policy.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Methods of Social Research - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £15200
Part-time £3650 £7600
Methods of Social Research - PCert at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £3190 TBC
Part-time £1590 N/A

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: