Applied Social Research Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Applied Social Research?

Social Research is a method used by social scientists and researchers to learn about people and societies so that they can design products/services that cater to various needs of the people.

Various aspects of human behavior need to be addressed to understand their thoughts and feedback about the social world, which can be done using Social Research.

Management, community organization, social planning, policy analysis, epidemiology, community medicine, and strategic planning are some of the many related applied social sciences to arise from this base

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Applied Social Research in the following subject areas:

  • MSc in Social Research Methods – An introduction to Social Research methods and practices.
  • Applied Social Research (M.Sc.) – Learn to design and conduct primary social research using both quantitative and qualitative research methods and analyze the research data.
  • BA (Hons) Social Science – The study of society and the social processes that feed into how society operates at an institutional, political and individual level.

Studying Applied Social Research

There are many courses in Applied Social Research that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider the practical experience in research or market research interviewing or through work involving research methodology. Try to get training in as broad a range of methods as possible, while still focusing on areas you’re interested in. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favorably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing an Applied Social Research course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of planning, design, conducting and managing social research projects, reporting on findings in order to shape policy or to examine the effectiveness of the existing policy.

As a social researcher, you’ll use a range of methods such as interviews, survey questionnaires and focus groups to investigate the attitudes, behavior and experiences of population samples on specific issues.

Your research could focus on a wide variety of social topics such as the benefits system, crime, education, the environment, gender, healthcare, population structure and migration, poverty, social services, transport and unemployment.

You will collect, analyze and evaluate data and information and present your findings to clients and key stakeholders in order to influence policy decisions.

You may be thinking of entering a career within the areas of social or welfare but there are also opportunities with a range of other employers throughout the public and private sector. They include charitable, counselling and voluntary organizations, law firms, local and central government, media companies, marketing and PR firms, police and probation services, schools, colleges and universities or social and market research organizations.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Working hours are typically 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Some extra hours will be required, particularly near project deadlines.

Part-time work in field research is possible.

Related jobs include:

  • Advice worker
  • Community development worker
  • Further education teacher
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Housing manager/officer
  • Marketing executive
  • Police officer
  • Policy officer
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Social researcher
  • Youth worker
  • Charity officer
  • Civil Service administrator
  • Family support worker
  • Human resources officer
  • International aid/development worker
  • Life coach
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Probation officer
  • Public relations officer
  • Social worker
  • Special educational needs coordinator

Further study

After completing a course in Applied Social Research you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as community education, counselling, information management, journalism, law, social work and teaching.


Are there different methods of Social Research?

Social Research contains elements of both qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze a range of social occurrences such as an investigation of historical sites, census of the country, detailed analysis of research conducted to understand reasons for increased reports of molestation in the country etc.

Qualitative methods rely on direct communication with members of a market, observation, text analysis. The results of this method are focused more on being accurate rather than generalizing to the entire population.

Quantitative methods use statistical analysis techniques to evaluate data collected via surveys, polls or questionnaires.

Where can I study Applied Social Research?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • Understanding people within society can also be useful in careers such as market research, retail management, the police force and journalism.
  • Sociologists analyze how individuals are shaped by the groups they belong to – their families, peer groups, cultures, nations, and societies.
  • The presence of other people can have a powerful impact on behavior. When a number of people witness something such as an accident, the more people that are present the less likely it is that someone will step forward to help. This is known as the bystander effect.
  • The situation can also have a major influence on social behavior. Situational variables can play a major role in our social behavior. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, psychologist Philip Zimbardo discovered that participants would take on the roles given to them to such an extreme that the experiment had to be discontinued after just six days. Those placed in the roles of prison guards began to abuse their power, while those in the role of the prisoners became anxious and stressed.
  • The need to conform leads people to go along with the group. Most people will go along with the group, even if they think the group is wrong. In Solomon Asch’s conformity experiments, people were asked to judge which was the longest of the three lines. When other members of the group picked the wrong line, participants were more likely to choose the same line.

Mariza Halliday

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