Educational and Social Research (MRes, PGDip and PGCert)


Study for a prestigious MRes in Educational and Social Research by distance learning

You are likely to be, or aspire to be, involved in either educational or social research. Maybe you would like to learn research skills or you need a qualification to prove what you know? Tutors from the Institute of Education will work with you and help you to develop your own research agendas.

Course aims

The course has been recognised by the ESRC as a comprehensive programme of research training which will:

  • provide the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence to interpret, evaluate and carry out research in any education-related setting;
  • enable you to effectively work with, and perform research in, a variety of sectors, including industry, the public sector, and the academic community;
  • explore a wide range of disciplinary approaches to educational research and the relevance of disciplines such as Sociology, Psychology, History and Philosophy for undertaking research in educational settings;
  • allow you to gain expertise in research procedures such as interviewing, literature reviewing, data analysis, and writing;
  • act as valuable preparation if you wish to undertake doctoral studies.

Course summary

Programme You study Study period Cost (2016-2017)
MRes 6 modules plus dissertation (equivalent to 180 credits) 2-5 years £9,560
Postgraduate Diploma 5 modules (equivalent to 120 credits) 2-5 years £6,740
Postgraduate Certificate 3-5 modules (equivalent to 60 credits) 1-5 years £3,920
Individual modules 10 credit modules 1-2 years £775
Individual modules 20 credit modules 1-2 years £1,365
Individual modules 30 credit modules 1-2 years £1,970

Your time commitment

We estimate that you will need to study for 10-15 hours a week.


The course has been developed by the UCL Institute of Education, a world-class centre of excellence for teacher training, higher degrees, research and consultancy in education and related areas of professional practice and the social sciences.

The UCL Institute of Education was ranked number one worldwide for Education in the QS 2015 World University Rankings.

A rich virtual learning environment

This course is available via distance learning, allowing you to study flexibly and balance work and personal commitments.

On this course, your learning will be collaborative. You share your skills and experience with other students. You are supported by an online learning environment which incorporates focused conferencing and work spaces linked to specific activities for each module.

There are also informal discussion areas and links to online resources including library support. Study materials and course readings are provided. Find out more about how you study.

Educational and Social Research
Programme starts September
Application deadline 20 July
Registration deadline 31 August
Online induction session starts September
Start studying September

This programme has been discontinued and no new registrations will be accepted after the registration deadline of 31 August 2016 for the 2016-17 academic session. All current students are asked to note that the last academic session for this programme will be 2020-21.

What our students say

"The reason I chose this qualification is that, as an academic, research is an integral part of my job. This qualification equips a researcher in academia with the necessary technical skills, confidence and knowledge and enables one to produce high-quality and meaningful research."

Anoosha Makka
Senior Lecturer in Business Management, South Africa

Free education-related Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

As part of our portfolio of online courses offered through Coursera, we have three education courses led by academics from the UCL Institute of Education. Registration and participation in these online courses is free, with a small fee paid at the end of the course if you wish to receive a certificate from Coursera.  

Course start dates vary but for more information and to sign up for future sessions, please visit the following pages:


Structure and syllabus

The MRes consists of six modules and a dissertation (180 credits).

The Postgraduate Diploma consists of up to five modules selected from the list below (excluding the dissertation) and must total a minimum of 120 credits.

The Postgraduate Certificate consists of up to three modules selected from the list below (excluding the dissertation) and must total a minimum of 60 credits.

Module dates for 2016-2017

  • Approaches to Educational Research: 19 September 2016 to 12 December 2016
  • Research and the Theoretical Field: 19 September 2016 to 12 December 2016
  • Dissertation (September): 19 September 2016 to 31 August 2017
  • Research Methods: 9 January 2017 to 2 April 2017
  • Qualitative Data Analysis: 9 January 2017 to 5 March 2017
  • Quantitative Data Analysis: 16 January 2017 to 14 May 2017 (with Easter break in the middle, see below)
  • Writing and Presenting Educational Research: 24 April 2017 to 21 May 2017
  • Dissertation (March): 1 March 2017 to 28 February 2018
  • Easter break: 10 April 2017 to 23 April 2017.

Please download the preferred order to take modules. Please note - This timetable only applies to students starting their studies in September. For students who begin in January, the Approaches to Educational Research module will be taken in the September of their first calendar year of study and Research and the Theoretical Field will normally be the last module taken. The dissertation will run from March in the second calendar year, for one year, rather than from September to August.

30 credit modules

Approaches to educational research

This module provides an overview of the different approaches to educational and social research. The module looks at a range of designs that are often used in social research, including surveys, ethnography, case studies, and experiments, and contrasts some of the ways in which researchers conceptualise the outcomes of research. The module will also explore some of the fundamental methodological issues underpinning social research, particularly epistemological debates about the nature of research knowledge. The module provides training in how to formulate research questions, design research strategies, and to carry out literature searches. Through this training, students will begin to develop a portfolio of research ideas to be developed throughout the course, and will be able to review and interpret research according to the debates discussed in the module.

Research methods IOE

Research methods involves looking at a broad range of methods of data collection, including questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, observations, and document analysis. The module provides a detailed consideration of the procedures involved in using these various research strategies, and looks at how to use methods in order to address particular research questions.

Research and the theoretical field

This module focuses on the ‘theoretical space’ of research, and explores the relationship between theoretical and epistemological claims/assumptions/debates and research practices. This will entail a close interrogation of both published research and students’ own research ideas.

20 credit modules

Qualitative data analysis

Qualitative data analysis considers the process of analytically orientating to qualitative data. The
module looks at a range of analytic approaches, including Grounded Theory, Discourse Analysis,
Conversation Analysis, as well as a broad variety of data formats such as video, audio, written
transcripts and historical documents.

Quantitative data analysis

This module covers a wide range of methods of quantitative data analysis and deals with both
conceptual and practical aspects. The module introduces exploratory analysis, including
descriptive statistics for summarising univariate data and measures of association for bivariate
data, hypothesis testing, and modelling data by regression analysis.

10 credit modules

Writing and presenting educational research

This module provides students with a detailed understanding of the different ways in which educational research can be communicated. By focussing on a variety of presentation forums, such as peer reviewed journals, conferences and project reports, the module enables students to develop an awareness of the importance of audience for the effective communication of ideas.

40 credit modules (MRes only)

Dissertation MRes

In the dissertation module students will have the opportunity to undertake an empirical piece of research using the analytic skills and knowledge they have gained in subsequent modules. Students will work with an assigned dissertation tutor to define an area of interest to them, and then create and implement an appropriate research strategy to investigate that area. Students will be expected to review relevant literature in their chosen area, to review methodological issues involved in their chosen design, to analyse data, and to relate their analysis to the wider theoretical field in which their research is situated.

Comment from student

"The Online MRes course in Educational and Social Research offers a synergy of theory and practice. It has greatly contributed to my performance at work and areas of expertise."

Svetlana Belic Malinic
EFL teacher, Serbia

Study materials

How you study

We’ve designed the course to exploit the communicative nature of web-based learning to the fullest. When you register you will be given access to the Online Learning Environment. As well as this being a vibrant community of researchers, it is where you can access:

  • the study materials
  • multimedia presentations
  • library resources
  • conferencing facilities
  • discussion areas.

For each module, you will access the learning materials online and work through them either alone or in groups. You will work closely with experienced, highly trained tutors from the Institute of Education in all of your modules. If you undertake a dissertation you will also be assigned a personal tutor to support you in working through your research.

The learning materials were written specially for this programme by our team of academic experts at the Institute of Education. The materials support your interactive learning experience, where you actively participate in an international group learning environment. You can find some sample lecture packs below with introductory chapters:

Approaches to Educational Research
Download: Approaches to Education Research sample lecture pack [pdf: 10 pgs, 307 KB]

Qualitative Data Analysis
Download: Qualitative Data Analysis sample lecture pack [pdf: 15 pgs, 250 KB]

Research Methods
Download: Research Methods sample lecture pack [pdf: 27 pgs, 426 KB]

You can fit your study around your lifestyle. You don't have to give up your job whilst you study. The course will be directly relevant to your work.

What our students say

"As a busy professional, I greatly appreciate the benefits of distance learning. It allows me to organise myself better and have more time for my family."

Svetlana Belic Malinic, EFL teacher, Serbia



The fees below refer to the 2016-2017 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2016. Fees are subject to annual review. 

Registration fee£ 1,100
Fee per 10 credit module£ 470
Fee per 20 credit module£ 940
Fee per 30 credit module£ 1,410
Dissertation fee (MRes only)£ 1,880
Total MRes degree£ 9,560
Total PG Dip£ 6,740
Total PG Cert£ 3,920
Individual modules taken on a stand-alone basis:
Total per Individual module (10 credit, taken on a stand-alone basis)£ 775
Total per Individual module (20 credit, taken on a stand-alone basis)£ 1,365
Total per Individual module (30 credit, taken on a stand-alone basis)£ 1,970
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

When to pay

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment. This covers the registration fee and all module fees;
Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay.
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB).
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque.
  • International money/postal order.
  • Further details are given in payment methods.


The University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.



Each module will be formally assessed by an extended piece of coursework. You will receive formative feedback on the first draft of each coursework assignment and you will be able to respond to that feedback before final submission. You will also receive summative feedback with your final grade/mark. The dissertation module is assessed by submission of a 20,000-word dissertation.


Academic Requirements

You must be able to demonstrate your interest and experience in the field of educational research or social research and meet the following academic entrance requirements:

  • An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree, in any subject, from an institution acceptable to the University.

Please note we accept qualifications from around the world. For further guidance please see our UCL Institute of Education Qualifications for Entrance.

Please note that if you do not meet the entrance requirements you may still apply. Each application will be considered on an individual basis and the decision taken at the discretion of the University.

Language Requirements

You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed, within the past three years:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System when an overall score of at least 7 is achieved with a minimum of 7.0 in the Reading and Writing sub-test.
  • (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language overall score of 100 or above with at least 25 in both Reading and Writing Skills sub-tests.

Technical skills

Word-processing, Internet and email skills are all basic requirements of this programme. No previous experience of computer conferencing is required as these skills will be developed during the programme.

Please ensure that the computer you intend to use when accessing the online learning environment accepts cookies; if you intend to use a computer on a network then check with your network administrator.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

Academic leadership: UCL Institute of Education

UCL Institute of Education is the largest institution in the UK devoted to the study of education and related areas. Founded in 1902, the Institute is a world-class centre of excellence for teacher training, higher degrees, research and consultancy in education and related areas of professional practice and the social sciences.

Further information

Contact an alumni ambassador:

Svetlana Belic Malinic
Svetlana Belic Malinic
Principal of a Cambridge International School in Serbia, Savremena Gimnazija, Svetlana Belic Malinic completed her MRes...

Alumni Testimonial: Educational and Social Research (MRes)

Former teacher Shobha Vadrevu studied for a Masters of Educational and Social Research (MRes) by distance learning in Singapore. She talks about the distance learning study experience and how her Masters enabled her to undertake a PhD at the National University of Singapore.