Masters in Research (MRes) Social Research (Sustainable Futures)

Entry year
Course code
Geography and Environmental Management
One year full-time; two years part-time
Full-time; part-time
Programme leader
Dr William Clayton

This course is open for applications.

Page last updated 30 May 2022


UWE Bristol is one of five universities that makes up the South West Doctoral Training Partnership - a consortium accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council to provide specialist postgraduate research training in the social sciences.

Gain an in-depth understanding of conducting social research, and use your skills to carry out your own research study on this specially designed MRes Social Research course. The course provides excellent preparation for social science doctoral study or for research careers in the public or private sectors. It fulfils the pre-requisite for studying a PhD at UWE Bristol through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) on the Sustainable Futures pathway.

Policy-making, planning and management across society and the economy needs to be underpinned by robust social scientific evidence. Focusing on the 'societal challenge' - how to promote sustainable futures - this MRes Social Research will give you the skills to critically evaluate existing evidence and conduct your own social research project with an interdisciplinary framing.

Solid grounding in research skills

Sustainable Futures is an area of expertise at UWE Bristol, and on this pathway you will be supported by a research supervisor with extensive research experience in your chosen field. As well as providing in-depth social research training, on this course you will learn about interdisciplinary social scientific philosophy, research design, quantitative and qualitative methodologies and analysis. You will be encouraged to critically review and evaluate research approaches and evidence, and investigate your own research questions.

Explore the area that most interests you

You will have the opportunity to choose optional modules relating to your pathway and future research interests, and undertake research for your dissertation. One of the benefits of the SWDTP is that all students studying on the two pathways (Sustainable Futures or Health and Wellbeing) at the partner universities join together for interdisciplinary modules, so students will have the opportunity to travel to Bath, Bristol and Exeter for research training days.

A route into PhD or research career

If you join the course through the SWDTP's 1+3 route, you will then stay on at UWE Bristol to undertake your PhD, and work with the same supervisor on your doctoral research. If you choose to take your skills into industry, this MRes course provides an excellent grounding for building a research career.



The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Advanced Interdisciplinary Research Design*
  • Research Design and Methodologies
  • Research in Context
  • Dissertation
  • Contemporary Debates in Sustainability*.

*The delivery of these modules will take place in partnership with other universities within the SWDTP (Bath, Exeter and Bristol) and there may be a requirement to attend a small number of sessions at these other institutions. The location will vary from year to year.

Plus optional modules (according to credit requirements) from:

  • Travel Demand Analysis
  • Transport, Economics and Appraisal
  • Transport Policy and Finance
  • Changing Travel Behaviour
  • Sustainable Transport Management and Operations
  • Introduction to Applied GIS
  • Spatial Analytical Methods
  • Healthy Cities
  • Planning for Conversation
  • Grassroots Planning
  • Sustainable Development: Principles and Practice
  • Creating Sustainable Behaviour Change
  • Catchment Hydrology
  • Water Management: Challenges for the 21st Century.

Please note this structure is for the full-time course delivery only. For part-time delivery, the same modules will be studied. However, the structure will differ.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching will consist of a mix of scheduled lectures, seminars and workshops to the whole group, and one-to-one supervision with your designated supervisor. You will be supported through directed learning and independent study, and engage in essential reading, research, assignment preparation and completion.

You will benefit from a high level of close supervision, allowing you to hone and develop your research skills. On some modules, you will also be expected to attend and evaluate professional seminars held by research groups within the South West Doctoral Training Partnership.

The tutors you will work with are all experts in their field, with extensive experience of research themselves. Many of them are active members of UWE Bristol's research centres and have extensive links with industry and other organisations.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The MRes lasts one year full-time or two years part-time, running from September to September in both cases. All 30 credit modules require 300 hours of study and 15 credit modules 150 hours.

Your study time will consist of a mix of contact time, where you attend lectures, seminars and workshops at the University; private study time; and supervision meetings. The exact split between those elements will vary on each module. As a guide, 15 credit modules usually have around 36 taught hours, and the 60 credit dissertation includes 12 hours of one-to-one supervision.


Assessment will depend on the module, and will include a combination of coursework, presentations and written exams.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.


Study facilities

You will have access to a range of facilities to enhance your learning. This includes access to computer labs and the University library on our Frenchay campus, which is open 24 hours a day. The library is well stocked with a wide range of electronic and print books, journals and other resources. You will also have access to specialist social research software, including SPSS and QSR NVivo.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources


Careers / Further study

If you're joining the course with the aim of undertaking a PhD, the MRes Social Research is a prerequisite for the South West Doctoral Training Partnership's 1+3 route. The course is also relevant for graduates seeking to build a research career - and provides an excellent foundation for research positions in both the public and private sectors. Students might go on to work on research in organisations such as the NHS, local government or the Office for National Statistics. Others may decide to stay in academia, and take on a research or teaching position.

Award-winning careers service

Our award-winning careers service is there to help you develop your postgraduate employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, postgraduate jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurs and access to employer events.


Supplementary fee information

Learn more about fees and funding.


Entry requirements

We normally require a honours degree of 2:1 or above (or equivalent if it is a non-UK degree) in a relevant subject.

We can consider applicants who do not meet the normal entry requirement, but who do have relevant qualifications or professional experience. In your application, you should describe in detail your professional experience and qualifications. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview.

English Language Requirement

International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The University accepts a large number of UK and international qualifications in place of IELTS. You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section.

For further information