Postgraduate Certificate in Social Sciences Research Methods
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Please note that this qualification is only available until 31 December 2013. In order to claim this qualification you must have completed the required 60 credits by this time. This qualification is not available to new students. If you have any questions about your eligibility for this qualification please contact the Qualifications and Ceremonies Centre on +44 (0)1908 653003 or by email.
This postgraduate certificate is awarded on successful completion of 60 credits of postgraduate study. This qualification offers a broad training in research skills and social research methods, both quantitative and qualitative. You will learn to search for sources and to interpret and evaluate findings which will enable you to conduct research in commercial, professional and academic contexts.
The postgraduate certificate aims to:
- equip you with preparatory training in social research methods
- enable you to evaluate research and interpret qualitative and quantitative research findings in academic, commercial and professional environments
- prepare you to conduct survey research in a commercial, professional or academic context.
Planning your studies
The minimum entry requirement is a recognised UK honours degree or its equivalent.
Although the honours degree can be in any subject, you are unlikely to be prepared for this qualification if you have not had a prior academic grounding in the social sciences or psychology. This is because your postgraduate studies will assume you are familiar with social scientific or psychological language and concepts, and the characteristic ways in which social scientists and psychologists construct arguments, use theory and handle evidence.
Postgraduate study requires that you have the ability to:
- write accurately, clearly and concisely
- read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
- classify evidence precisely, and assess its value and reliability
- argue logically, consistently and sceptically
- marshal evidence to support a logical argument.
All our postgraduate modules are taught in English, so your spoken and written English must be of an appropriate standard for postgraduate study. If you’re not sure whether your English skills are good enough, there is some help and guidance at our Skills for OU Study website.
Social science modules in this qualification are not available for study on a stand-alone basis.
Modules start in either May or November. 30-credit modules are taught over a sixteen-week study period. Examinations are held in April and October.
It is expected that you will have commenced your studies towards the Postgraduate Certificate in Social Sciences Research Methods with one of the discontinued postgraduate foundation modules. This will have equipped you with the requisite skills to undertake postgraduate-level study.
Because of the demands that study of the certificate will make on you, we recommend that you take only one module at a time. You should also read the detailed advice about entry and preparation in the individual module descriptions. We cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available.
To claim this qualification, you must complete the required 60 credits within eight years of the commencement of your study.
You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 20 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.
Career relevance and employability
The Postgraduate Certificate in Social Sciences Research Methods will equip you with preparatory skills directly relevant to careers in which designing, undertaking, evaluating or managing quantitative and qualitative social research are necessary. Careers of this kind include those in marketing, social and educational policy, health, policing and criminal justice, local and central government, and academic research. You will also develop a range of transferable skills – including the ability to work independently, communicate clearly, and analyse complex information – that will be valued by employers in both public and private sectors.
There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.
For this postgraduate certificate you require:
60 credits from the discontinued compulsory modules:
D821 or D822 and D849
Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D840, DT840 and DTZY840
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.
Credit for previous study elsewhere
For this qualification, we do not allow you to count credit for study you have already done elsewhere.
On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Postgraduate Certificate in Social Sciences Research Methods entitling you to use the letters PGC Soc Sci RM (Open) after your name.
You may continue your studies and add to your certificate either 60 credits of qualifying modules to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Research Methods (E12) (please note that E12 will be withdrawn at the end of December 2013) or 120 credits of qualifying modules to complete the MSc in Social Research Methods (F24) (please note that F24 will be withdrawn at the end of December 2014).
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:
These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.
How to register
If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.
See a full list of modules available for this qualification