The University of Southampton
Warning! Your browser is out-of-date and not compatible with this website. Please download a new secure and faster browser to view this website correctly.
Social Sciences: Social Statistics & DemographyPart of Social SciencesPostgraduate study

PG Dip/MSc Social Statistics (Research Methods pathway)

Professional statisticians need to have a high degree of technical sophistication, which can only be gained through postgraduate study. In addition, they need to be able to listen to the needs of clients and communicate their findings to the user community. These skills are also developed within our postgraduate programmes.

Introducing your degree

Are you passionate about investigating social issues and finding evidence through statistics? If so, the Masters in Social Statistics degree will provide you with theory and the fundamental aspects behind social statistics. This masters degree at the University of Southampton will develop your understanding of population change through survey methods and design, while examining the principles of data collection. The Masters in Social Statistics (Research Methods Pathway) is excellent preparation for a career in social science research in government, national and international organizations or in the private sector.

Programme Overview

This programme provides postgraduate instruction in the theory and methods of social statistics for students whose interests lie in the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative social science data, or demography.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

You should apply using the University's online application form. More details are available on our Apply page.

Applications can be submitted at any time, although we would encourage applicants to apply before the end of May. If you are seeking financial support for your postgraduate studies, we recommend that you apply before the end of February so you have time to gather the necessary documentation for your funding body/sponsor.

MSc modules
If applying for one of our MSc programmes, please specify the optional modules you intend to take, if known.

For all applications, two academic references are required. Unfortunately, we cannot consider applications until we have received both references.

Programme Structure

The programme is run by the Division of Social Statistics & Demography, with input from Mathematics and the Division of Sociology & Social Policy. Several modules are provided jointly for this programme and for the Diploma/MSc Statistics with Applications in Medicine (run by Mathematics).

There is a large choice of optional modules. If demography is where your interests lie, then, as well as the compulsory module in demographic methods, you can also take optional modules in more substantive areas. Epidemiological methods, survival analysis and modelling multilevel data are also relevant.

For those planning to analyse complex data, modelling courses such as modelling multilevel data and modelling longitudinal data are all relevant.

Other options include courses relevant to medical and social statistics.

The programme is normally full-time, and lasts for 12 months, with nine months of taught modules between October and June of the academic year, followed by three months of research and preparation of a masters dissertation. It is possible to take this programme over two years of part-time study, providing suitable arrangements can be made.

Key Facts

Since the Division of Social Statistics was founded in 1975, we have been at the forefront of international research into methodology for the design and analysis of sample surveys. Today, we are a leading international centre for research in social statistics.

Our broad range of research areas includes survey methods, sampling and estimation, analysing and modelling data, and non-response adjustments. These issues are central to the analysis of both physical and social science data.

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

We welcome applications from students who have, or expect to have, a second-class honours degree.

Your application will be considered on its merits, with motivation and postgraduate experience in a statistical environment potentially important factors.

Non-graduate qualifications, in particular the Graduate Diploma of the Royal Statistical Society, may be accepted in place of an undergraduate degree. Full details of previous statistical training in the form of syllabuses, reading lists and, in particular, examination papers, are helpful in assessing your suitability for the programme.

Academic background
This pathway is suitable for social scientists with some training in statistical methods, eg in geography, psychology, population sciences, sociology and politics. Degrees in statistics, mathematics, etc are also acceptable.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The year is divided into two semesters, each of 12 teaching weeks. In the week before the first semester begins, you attend a four-day induction course which introduces you to the computing and library facilities available at Southampton.

The programme of study consists of a combination of compulsory and option modules and a dissertation to be completed over the summer months. Each module is worth 10 or 20 CATS points, and a total of 120 points is required to complete the taught component of the programme.

Year 1

Supervised research for MSc Social Statistics
If you pass the Diploma examinations, you will be permitted to undertake supervised research starting in June and to submit a dissertation for the MSc in September. Providing satisfactory supervision arrangements can be made, you can work on a topic of your own choice.

Dissertations are about 15,000 words in length. They should demonstrate your mastery of the topic area, but they are not expected to contain a substantial original contribution. They generally take the form of a computer-based analysis of social science data or a computer-based examination of a statistical technique.

Dissertation examples

  • multilevel analysis of child survival in Lesotho
  • the under-reporting of various crimes amongst different subgroups in the UK
  • determinants of poverty in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • volunteering and civic engagement
  • child nutritional status in central Asia and eastern Europe
  • whether family background impacts differently on educational achievement in comprehensive schools compared to traditionally tracked schools: a study on Germany with PISA data
  • return migration in Jamaica

In addition to the compulsory modules listed below, option modules with a value of at least 30 CATS but no more than 35 CATS (ie two, three or four option modules) must be selected. If SOCI6041 is taken, options worth at least 20 CATS but no more than 25 CATS must be selected. Modules on other MSc programmes (eg MSc Economics) may be taken as options after discussion with your academic tutor and the MSc programme coordinator.


Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Learning & Assessment


Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentIT: Software licenses - All specific pieces of software required as part of your programme are available on the University’s public workstations. Statistical software can be downloaded via iSolutions for free:
EquipmentIT: Hardware - Public workstations loaded with all specific pieces of software that are required as part of your course are available in Building 58. Public workstations loaded with more generic software are available across the campus. You may, however, benefit from having your own PC or laptop and a USB stick.
Printing and copyingMuch of your coursework, such as essays and projects, is likely to be submitted online. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit online and students will be asked to provide a printed copy, including the MSc dissertation. Information about generic University printing, including printing costs, can be found here: Information about dissertation printing can be found here:

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Study locations

Highfield campus

Social Sciences is based on the main campus of the University in the M...Find out more

Share this courseFacebookGoogle+TwitterWeibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.