MSc in Education (Research Design and Methodology)

The MSc in Education (Research Design and Methodology) introduces students to the range of tools and concepts that are necessary in educational research and provides students with the knowledge and abilities to undertake their own research and to evaluate the research of others.

This course is ESRC recognised as providing a high quality comprehensive grounding in educational and social research methods, is the first year of a ‘1 + 3’ DPhil, and may be funded by ESRC scholarships.

The course is offered on both a full time (one year) and part time (two year) basis. The degree and expectations for both modes of study are equally rigorous: part time students attend classes with full time students, but these are spread over two years to balance work and personal circumstances. Part time students attend classes and receive supervision one day per week during term time and are encouraged to spend at least one further day a week working in Oxford libraries and participating in relevant research seminars and research events or taking non-assessed courses.

The course covers a range of quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and data analysis, and introduces students to the challenges of carrying out social research in the field of education. A particular feature of the course is that all students take part in a research internship where they work in a research group within the department on ongoing research projects. During this time they experience some of the variety of activities that are an everyday part of doing educational research.

The teaching methods include tutor presentations, small group work, student led presentations, seminars and workshops, project work, and tutorials. All students undertake classes on quantitative and qualitative data analysis and there is substantial ‘hands-on’ experience in methods of data collection and analysis. Tutorials support students in identifying research questions, selecting areas for literature review, carrying out field work, and reviewing drafts of the dissertation. Supported ICT sessions are provided by Department of Education staff and sessions on literature access skills (including electronic searches) are provided by Bodleian Education Library staff.

Educational aims of the programme

  • To provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to evaluate educational research critically and to carry out rigorous research in the field of education.
  • To develop in students the ability to define and formulate research problems and questions and, where appropriate, formulate hypotheses that can be tested
  • To develop critical analysis, problem solving skills and research skills
  • To enable students to understand the relationships between, and the rationale for using, particular qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • To develop understanding of the role and use of theory in qualitative and quantitative research and the role of educational research in policy development and implementation
  • To enable students to read critically research papers which have used a wide range of research methodologies and methods
  • To enable students to understand the use of and be able to use a range of methods and to be able to decide on appropriate research designs and methods to investigate their chosen research problems

Programme outcomes

By the end of the programme, you will have developed a good understanding of:

  • The philosophical and theoretical bases and assumptions of educational research
  • The issues and epistemological underpinnings surrounding qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches
  • Major research paradigms and designs
  • A range of approaches to analysing qualitative and quantitative data
  • The ethical and philosophical issues associated with research in education
  • Various modes of presenting and disseminating research findings
  • Recent research in the field of education, and its methodological challenges.

The MSc Education (Research Training) student group (October 2017)


We encourage applications from students throughout the world who wish to benefit from this course and the opportunities available at Oxford. We welcome students with backgrounds in social sciences and a range of other disciplines. The course is suitable for those with a good honours degree/MSc or MA in a relevant field who have a strong interest in education and developing their research skills. While many of our students have teaching experience in schools or higher education, this is not a requirement. It is an excellent basis for those planning further academic study (DPhil/PhD) and those who wish to pursue an academic or research related career.

Page last modified: October 19, 2017