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1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MA in Research Methods (Education) provides a broad-based practical grounding in research design methodologies with a specific focus on education. 

This course delivers high-quality research methods for learning in education for students interested in theoretical and empirical understanding of research in social science, as well as those who plan to pursue doctoral level studies in the field of education. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognises the course as providing suitable training for this purpose.

The focus is on understanding research designs for conducting and evaluating rigorous research. Core modules examine the use of research tools for analysing and interpreting research data, this includes detailed discussion on formulating research questions, innovative research designs, and developing theoretical understanding of concepts, both in the field of education and across the wider social sciences.

You can also select from a range of optional modules, some of which are designed to further develop your research knowledge while others are specific to education. The MA dissertation gives you the opportunity to bring together the different areas of learning into an area of research interest.

The course is one of a suite of methods-based postgraduate degrees delivered at cross-faculty level with modules taught across the School of Education, the Department of Sociology, the School of Government and International Affairs, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Psychology. This provides wide-ranging opportunities for interdisciplinary study which can help you transition into careers in academia, the public sector, non-governmental organisations, charitable organisations, the business sector and more. Alternatively, it can serve as a stepping-stone to doctoral level studies.

Course structure

Core modules:

Research Design and Process provides training in research design and an understanding of the research process to prepare you for the MA dissertation/PhD research and careers in social research. You will develop an understanding of how to formulate and design a research project, the ethical, political and organisational issues involved in social research, and the processes and stages involved in planning a research project.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Research introduces contemporary social scientific research from an interdisciplinary perspective. You will explore complex causation and how it is addressed methodologically across different disciplines. The module also introduces design strategies and different disciplinary practices, and considers ethical issues in the conduct of social research, including issues of power and equality.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis equips you with the advanced knowledge and skills to understand, conceptualise and critically appraise qualitative social sciences research, including different approaches to research and design, and analysis of qualitative data. This module helps prepare you to carry out your own qualitative research projects.

Quantitative Methods and Analysis develops your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis. You will learn how to use statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets and to make appropriate statistical inferences about associations between social phenomena.

Experiments in Education explores the case for and against experimenting in education. This module will teach you to recognise a range of experimental designs and identify where it can be used; identify and minimise threats to the validity of causal inferences; analyse and interpret data from experimental research; and judge the quality of experiments.

Design and Methods in Education Research introduces key issues, terms and ideas in education research. It teaches a range of research skills including the evaluation of research techniques across different research contexts, and the ability to conduct a high-quality study. You will learn to recognise the different purposes of education research, understand key terms and vocabulary in education research, and develop a critical standpoint in relation to research in education.

The Dissertation is an opportunity to research and report on a topic of interest, under the guidance of a supervisor. Drawing on the research skills and techniques developed in core and optional modules the dissertation enables you to demonstrate your capacity for independent thought, critical thinking and analysis.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Systematic Review
  • Secondary Data in Education Research
  • Ethnographies of Education
  • Measurement in Education Research
  • Interviews
  • Narrative Enquiries
  • Advanced Ethnographic Research
  • Multilevel Modelling
  • Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences
  • Simulating Data in R
  • Participatory Action Research


The curriculum is delivered through a combination of taught lectures, seminars and tutorials using active learning approaches which include discussion, presentations, critiquing existing research, analysing and interpreting data, designing experiments, searching literature and synthesising the results of multiple studies.

Your contact hours will be supplemented by a substantial element of independent learning, including further reading and research. To support you in this, you will have access to a variety of learning resources, including learning spaces in libraries and teaching rooms, computers, databases, journals and a wide range of textbooks. 

The final element of the course is the MA dissertation, a significant piece of independent research that brings together the theory, method and practice developed through the core and option modules. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor who will provide support through a series of individual tutoring meetings, dissertation workshops and forums.


The majority of the MA is assessed through coursework, and this takes a variety of forms depending on the modules studied. Assessment methods include written assignments, research proposals, portfolio work, and individual and group presentations. The option module Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences is assessed by examination. 

The 12,000-word MA dissertation, carried out under the guidance of a supervisor, makes up one-third of your credits.

Entry requirements

An honours degree at 2:1 (or equivalent). Significant relevant experience will also be considered.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,400 per year
EU students £24,750 per year
Island students £10,400 per year
International students £24,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £5,800 per year
EU students £13,700 per year
Island students £5,800 per year
International students £13,700 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Education

The consistently high ranking of the Department gives us a worldwide reputation for the quality of not only our teaching but the skills and knowledge of our postgraduate community. The delivery of the subject by the relevant experts on our academic team brings together world class research, innovative teaching and exceptional support.

Your time as a member of the Department’s student community places you in the strong position to pursue a successful career in a range of different sectors. Career opportunities in education are numerous and rewarding and include classroom teaching, educational leadership and management, administration and policy development.

Most of our PGCE graduates go directly into teaching. In keeping with career ambitions, MA graduates progress into a wide range of roles including educational research, publishing, education administration, policy making and management as well as jobs in the commercial or public sector.

For further information on career options please view our department pages

Department information

School of Education

The Department of Education offers a mix of teacher training and education research, set within a vibrant and engaged learning community of around fifty academic staff and 650 postgraduates. We are a leading educational research centre with strong international ties and numerous partner relationships with schools and colleges.

Our postgraduate courses are flexible and allow you to follow a particular interest. They include MAs in Education, Educational Leadership and Change, Intercultural Communication and Education and Research Methods. We also offer a range of PGCE qualifications at primary and secondary levels and in specific school subjects.

We provide the opportunity for learning from academic staff who are leading research and teaching experts in their fields. They underpin our Department’s commitment to conducting research that contributes to shaping educational practice and policy, develops educational research and methodologies, informs school improvements and supports the professional development of teachers around the world.

Our portfolio of research projects attracts interest and financial support from important bodies who have a key role in developing education in the UK. They include the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, the Sutton Trust, and the Education Endowment Foundation, as well as a range of other organisations and charities.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Education pages

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked joint 1st nationally for Research Impact and 1st nationally for outputs (REF 2021)


The Department of Education is characterised by its diversity and vibrancy and the enthusiasm and commitment of its postgraduate community to improving the provision of education in the UK and across the globe.

The Department is located at Lower Mountjoy on the main University campus and is not far from the centre of Durham with its UNESCO World Heritage status and the beautiful cathedral.

Our facilities are modern and comprehensive and include a well-resourced library, study areas and the state-of-the-art Confluence Building which plays host to events such as seminars and lectures by guest speakers.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

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  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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