Applied Social Research MSc

An applied, carefully tailored and employer-backed new programme, which responds to the current needs in the social research sector.


MSc Applied Social Research will help you to develop:

A critical awareness of the economic, socio-cultural and political contexts that influence the practice of social research in various fields (i.e. academic, non-governmental, business, government & policy, media & creative industries).  

An ability to find and use reliable data for an interdisciplinary and critically informed discussion on a range of contemporary issues and social policies that impact on individuals and groups. 

An ability to critically evaluate and assess evidence, impact & outcomes, and to identify the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of trustworthiness, validity, authenticity, and re-liability that inform such claims. 

An ability to reflect on the real-life implications of social research designs and qualitative & quantitative methodologies in ad-dressing socio-cultural, economic, and political issues and inequalities in diverse contexts.

An ability to apply social research principles and skills in real-life settings, working both independently and collaboratively, to de-liver ethically and academically robust research projects.

Typical entry point to this course is in September. Please enquire for more information.

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Mode of Study:



1 years

Start date:


Course details

The MSc Applied Social Research responds to an identified need for graduates with an in-depth academic understanding, and applied skills in all aspects of social research. Everything about our MSc Applied Social Research is geared towards helping you grow as a professional researcher, ready for an independent career in business, the charity sector, public administration, academia, or creative industries and media (among others).

The programme has been developed, and will continue, with an Advisory Board of external stakeholders from employers and users of social research. This enables our MSc to develop graduates with the professional skills and attitudes, fit for the contemporary business and academic market needs. It also provides you with access to key stakeholders, to be capitalised on for your professional development. 

Committed to Building Professional Identities 

Good social researchers stay on top of global current affairs, monitor fast-changing social policy landscapes, keep in touch with professional bodies, and keep abreast of developments in academic debates.
To achieve this, we will expect you to participate in Social Sciences Seminars run in our subject group, whereby staff, PhD students, and external guests present and discuss their research and work. This will further enhance your experience, support your advanced learning and strengthen mentoring relationships developed with Napier academics.

We will also have our annual MSc Research Awayday, where you can showcase your Dissertation Project to staff, the student community, and external stakeholders. 

Learn Research from the Scotland’s Leading Researchers

We are a group of excellent researchers who do work that matters. Understanding and counteracting social (in)equalities is at the heart of our Social Sciences group and building and advancing more socially just and equitable societies is paramount to our work. 
As a group we have a creditable track record of applied and impactful research, as our outstanding Research Excellence Framework 2022 outcome testifies. 

We have achieved the following, impressive results in the latest REF2022 submission (UoA20 Social Work and Social Policy): 

The top Scottish modern university.
100% of impact case studies scoring 3* or 4* stars.
Top of all Scottish universities by this above measurement.
81% of research outputs rated 3* or 4* stars (sector average: 75%).

We have also teamed up with social research businesses, researchers from public administration departments, and research teams from charities across Edinburgh to help us shape and deliver our programme. This creates opportunities to explore potential work experience or volunteering opportunities that might arise during your studies, and can help you spread your wings in a professional setting. You will meet quite a few of these professionals in the classroom, as some of them will also deliver guest Employer-Led teaching sessions.

This vibrant research context makes us ideally placed to guide you through your own research development journey. So come and join us! 

The Dissertation Project

This is where your knowledge, skills, and capabilities will shine! Your individual DP is a piece of advanced scholarship & research that you will carry out under the individual mentorship of an academic colleague. You will be matched with a Dissertation Mentor best placed to guide you through the project. We have a wealth of expertise in the social sciences but where appropriate, may offer supervision from colleagues in other subject groups across university.

The dissertation project will be designed according to your interests and future career plans. For example: 

You may opt to design and execute a new research project and seek to disseminate the findings to the relevant audiences. 
If you have (or will undertake) work experience that is relevant to the programme, you may opt to do a practice-based project.

If you are interested in pursuing academic research further into doctoral studies, we will also support you by e.g., offering (where possible) shadowing opportunities, developing PhD proposals, and bespoke sessions on academic research careers.  

Lead Academics

Our MSc Applied Social Research is built on feminist ethos of cooperation and help. Therefore, instead of vertical, hierarchical divisions of responsibility, we prefer horizontal collaborations. Thus, Dr Mandy Winterton and Dr Roberto Kulpa share the Programme Leader duties, responsibilities, and perks of joy that come with overseeing, each year, a group of fantastic and motivated junior researchers growing and maturing through our programme.

Dr Mandy Winterton:

I am now a Reader in Sociology, having started my Higher Education journey as a mature working-class student at my local college in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. It is perhaps not surprising that my research interests then are founded on intersections of class and gender, (although not limited to this.) Over the years my academic and commissioned research has enabled me to apply that focus on many different contexts, from schools, colleges and elite universities to the civil service, prisons and the Ministry of Defence. I am passionate about principled, robust social research, and the lives and nuances of inequality that it is able to bring into view and fight for.

Dr Roberto Kulpa:

I have been moving all my life, and this diasporic experience has deeply influenced my way of thinking about the world we live in, and about global social inequalities I have witnessed. That is why I have always felt at home with feminist and queer movements in their fight against injustice and pursued academic research that brings these approaches into play in academia, and in my pedagogy. Apart of studying ‘West and the Rest’ (as Stuart Hall has once aptly described global political inequalities), gender/sexuality and nationalisms, I have also been reading into friendship and developing questions concerning well-being, resilience, and resistance as modi operandi of marginalised groups during precarious times.

Dr Marina Yusupova:

I grew up in Russia, a country where masculine domination has been a defining feature of social, political, and cultural life. I have always felt exasperation at the invisibility and systemic devaluing of women, their experiences, and their work. Feminist theories and critique have been absolutely crucial in shaping my academic journey. Over the past 10 years, I have applied my passion for promoting gender equality and integrating gender sensitive perspectives in organisational cultures. In my research on gender and sexuality I use postcolonial and decolonial perspectives to challenge the western-centric hierarchies in knowledge production. As an educator, I see the task of decolonising the curriculum, fostering inclusive academic cultures, and undermining various inequalities within the classroom as central for educational institutions of all levels.  

Dr Guanyu Jason Ran

Born and raised in Mainland China on the banks of the Yangtze river, my childhood witnessed one of the largest human migrations in contemporary China, led by the construction of the world’s largest hydropower station - the Three Gorges Dam. While this life experience of course became the genesis of my personal travel and migration inspirations, wherein so far I have travelled to more than 30 countries around the world, as well as lived in countries across East and Southeast Asia (China and Thailand), Australasia (New Zealand), North America (United States), and Europe (United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and Denmark); it also inevitably paved my later academic interest and pathway into inquiring how migration impacts our everyday life, especially family dynamics, intergenerational/multigenerational, and broad ethnoracial relationships.

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    How you’ll be taught

    Teaching and learning on our MSc is participatory, engaging, and hands-on, delivered through a mix of workshops, guest sessions, fieldwork and external visits, mentorship activities, and computer labs.

    All modules use weekly 3h sessions to deliver creatively tailored content & activities that reflect the applied nature of our programme. These take place over two consecutive days per week.

    There are also exclusive events designed to create collegiate environment for students, staff & business partners, aimed at extending employability opportunities, and peer networking.

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    Each module has a tailored suite of activities, outputs & formats to showcase the best of your skills & knowledge.

    You will design and execute research tools (e.g. surveys, focus groups), write critical annotations, create outputs e.g. Executive Reports, Project Proposals, and use industry-standard software to showcase analysed data.

    You will work individually & in small groups to identify and/or resolve problems, analyse & present case studies, write impact plans for research projects, and critically reflect on your progress in Learning Diaries.

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    Work placement

    There are no compulsory work placement modules on this programme.

    We will have, however, some volunteering opportunities. 


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Applied Research Design ( SSC11117 )

The module introduces key principles of designing social research at all stages, from the initial idea to the final dissemination and outputs. You will learn and practice writing the objectives, matching them to suitable methods, and aligning outputs accordingly to set goals. Having built a knowledge-base of methodological strategies, you will deploy it to increase competencies in research design via their application. For instance, the outcome of the module – a Research Proposal – will become a grounding framework for your Dissertation Project. Critical considerations of ethical underpinnings in research, alongside self-reflections on your own positionality in the complex social world of interdependencies, will feed into your work on an Ethical Approval Form to obtain ethical clearance for your project. This module forms a bedrock for developing your quantitative and qualitative research skills, on which we focus in complementary modules (Mastering Qualitative Methods, Understanding and Executing Quantitative Research). It presents strong theoretical grounding that underpins applied solutions that you will develop in due course. This methodological triptych will form an essential skillset for your future research career in either private business, public administration, third sector, academia, or arts and creative industries. The module progresses students through key theories, epistemologies and methodologies in social and political research. It is aimed at students with the existing, UG-level understanding of methodology, or with some experience of planning and executing research, or at those who need a subject refresher.

Further information

Business of Research ( SSC11122 )

Social research education often the focuses on methods and methodologies, but rarely on the real-world functioning of researchers undertaking research work for external clients. In this innovative module we address this niche and help you to understand the business of research and how to best serve the research needs of private, public and voluntary sector clients. This module not only covers the financial aspects of undertaking research for external clients, but importantly, places emphasis on the professional expectations of social researchersModule builds personal confidence and works on professional attitude formation, while deploying knowledge and critical skills gained from other modules, to ensure practical insight and applied skills practice. You will meet a range of external guest speakers, professionals invited to talk about everyday functioning of their organisations. You will learn key employability skills of understanding research job roles and expected capacities, to understand professional expectations on the market. You will practice how to build external relations with clients, and advance your presentation skills, increasing personal and professional confidence. You will strengthen this further with our group work and collaboration-based teaching method, preparing and testing your teamwork capabilities. We will discuss ethical implications of money in the research and consider what makes a good tender bid and a grant proposal. We will think about the digital footprint and presence (e.g. LinkedIn). We will also consider existing laws and various legal aspects relating to social research of which a professional researcher must be aware of.

Further information

Dissertation Project ( SSC11123 )

The dissertation project is a piece of advanced, independent scholarship & research work that you will carry out individually. It is the module that builds on, and elevates the knowledge, skills, and capacities developed across other modules, into a sustained, systematic and comprehensive piece of work that demonstrates the achievement of the learning outcomes for the MSC Social Research programme. In the project, you will be expected to critically engage with academic, public, and other literatures and sources, relating to the relevant theories, concepts, and models covered during the programme. The project also enables you to illustrate and utilise a range of transferable skills that you will have developed during workshops and peer activities across the programme. These skills and interpersonal capacities form a bedrock of professional attitudes in any workplace. You will be matched with a Dissertation Mentor best placed to guide you through the project. We have a wealth of expertise in the social sciences but where appropriate, may offer supervision from colleagues, for example, in Criminology, Psychology, Health and Social Care, or Business. The dissertation project that you will carry out will be structured according to your interests and post-graduation plans. For example: • You may opt to design and execute a new research project and seek to disseminate the findings to the relevant audiences. • If you have (or will undertake) work experience that is relevant to the programme of study, you may opt in to do practice-based project.

Further information

Evaluation and Impact ( SSC11120 )

What counts as ‘impact’? When can we claim for example, a social intervention is ‘impactful’ on target communities and groups? How do we know that something (e.g. a policy or engagement strategy) ‘just works’ or is ‘useful’? In this module you will build on knowledge from Social Policy and Landscapes of Contemporary Issues and gain evaluation and assessment skills necessary in social research and/or social policy work. You will expand theoretical framework and critically engage with practical approaches to ‘impact’ in diverse sectors (governmental, charity, academic, business, arts), and you will develop skills of preparing targeted and meaningful forms of appraisal and evaluation.

An important aspect of the module engages you in thinking about communication, dissemination, and exploitation of social research. This includes planning ‘pathways to impact’, including forms of public engagement and knowledge exchange, involvement of target audiences, choosing suitable channels and means of outreach best suited for the intended objectives.

You will learn key concepts and approaches to evaluation and practice working on component parts, such as cost-benefit analysis, qualitative and quantitative KPIs (‘key performance indicators’) or using logic modelling. You will be prepared to engage with political and socio-cultural contexts and conditions, and ethical considerations since no policy remains outside of power and institutional relations.

Further information

Understanding and Executing Quantitative Research ( SSC11119 )

The module introduces you to key elements of the quantitative methodologies. It provides you with an applied understanding of how quantitative research and data function in the real-world, across private, public and business facing organisations. The module is structured into two interlinking parts. In the 1st part you will acquire a working knowledge and understanding of quantitative research, while in the 2nd part you will apply skills of quantitative data collection and analysis using appropriate tools.

The first part will focus on:
• Theoretical and epistemological bases for using numbers in social research, and the premise of where, how, and why to use quantitative data for the understanding of social policy and contemporary issues.
• Benefits and pitfalls of using statistical tools to inform social policy and impact initiatives in: the third sector, public administration, art and culture, academic and research, and business sectors.
• Critical engagement with the application, interpretation, (mis)representation and ethical use of quantitative evidence across private and public sectors, and popular culture.
• The role of ‘Big Data’ and ‘data surveillance’ in the contemporary world and their associated strengths and weaknesses.

The second part will consist of:
• A focus on surveys as the most popular quantitative method in social research (including, for example developing valid and reliable survey questions, piloting, managing non-response rate, engagement, administration).
• Sampling and the logic of ‘sample representation’ of general populations, the challenges of sampling, sampling frames, etc.
• Basic functionality of relevant statistical software (e.g. SPSS or similar) used for generating and analysing quantitative data.
• Key concepts, analytical strategies, and visualisation techniques such as: commonly used techniques for summarising data, and consideration of ‘typical’ and ‘outlier’ data/cases; tables and graphs; variables, mean, medians, value; cross-tabulation, single & bi-variate analysis.
• Exploring the relationships between variables: deciding if measures are linked and how (correlation or causation), introducing elaboration techniques, and measures of association (e.g. the Chi-square and Cramer’s V).

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Applied Social Research?

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at a 2:2 or above in a related social sciences or humanities subjects (e.g. sociology, psychology, criminology, anthropology, social care, cultural studies, education, journalism, media and history).

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient relevant work experience.

Can I get admission into Applied Social Research based on my working experience in this sector?

This course has academic entry requirements which are assessed alongside relevant work experience. Full details of any relevant work experience, including references should be submitted with your application and may be considered for entry where the minimum academic entry requirements are below those required.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements. Please contact us with your specific circumstances by submitting an enquiry form above and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students From 2023/24 2024/25
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £6,930 £7,280
Overseas and EU £17,090 £18,800
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes. The discount can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount. For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here


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Social research graduates typically go into careers in the following sectors:

  • Charities & social enterprises
  • Public administration & institutions
  • Private sector of social research
  • Business of market research
  • Creative industries (incl. media production, journalism, social media content writing, etc.)
  • Social rehabilitation & law-related institutions
  • Start-ups, research & innovation industries
  • Academic research
  • Education & teaching
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