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Postgraduate Taught

MSc Social Data Science

Please note: The below is for 2025 entries. Click here for 2024 entries.
UCAS code 1234
Duration 1 year full time
2 years part time
Entry year September 2024
Campus Streatham Campus
Discipline Politics and International Relations
Typical offer

View full entry requirements

2:2 Honours degree

Contextual offers


  • Explore ways to apply data analysis techniques to a range of substantive policy related questions and develop skills in evidence-based decision making
  • Choose to specialise within a policy subfield such as social and family policy, economic and public policy, environment, criminal justice and security
  • Delivered by the highly successful Q-Step Centre for Applied Data Analysis providing you with the essential mathematical and programming skills to acquire and analyse data
  • Put your market-leading social data science skills into practice with optional work placements or industry-based research consultancy projects
  • You’ll gain an understanding of complex political and cultural issues, often in continually changing environments which will be relevant to both business and public sector careers or PhD study

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Fast Track (current Exeter students)

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Programme Director: Dr Nitzan Peri-Rotem

Web: Enquire online

Phone: +44 (0)1392 72 72 72

Employability focussed

Top 10 in the UK for Politics

9th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

Top 100 in the world for Politics

QS World University Subject Rankings 2024

Exeter is one of only 15 UK universities to host a Q Step Centre

Entry requirements

We will consider applicants with a 2:2 Honours degree with 53% or above in a related subject, eg. social sciences, psychology and economics, with demonstrable evidence of data analysis training/content.

Please note, if we receive an application which we deem more suitable for one of our other data science programmes we may make an offer for that alternative programme.

Entry requirements for international students

English language requirements

International students need to show they have the required level of English language to study this course. The required test scores for this course fall under Profile B2. Please visit our English language requirements page to view the required test scores and equivalencies from your country.

Course content

Compulsory modules will explore the politics of the policy making process, evidence-based decision making, the use of data analysis at each of the policy and decision-making stages and the social complexities of policy making. You will discover how to turn data into graphical representations for describing and exploring data, analysing hypotheses and relationships and presenting evidence. We will provide you with the essential mathematical and programming skills needed to acquire and analyse data.

You will gain the technical understanding of a range of social data science techniques and the practical software and programming skills to implement these methods to address your research questions, allowing you to pursue other professional research activities.

You can further enhance your employability skills by undertaking either a work placement or industry-based research consultancy project. Previous students are now working for organisations such as the ONS Data Science camp, YouGov, the FCA and Defra.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.


2024/25 entry

UK fees per year:

£12,000 full-time; £6,000 part-time

International fees per year:

£24,300 full-time; £12,150 part-time


We invest heavily in scholarships for talented prospective Masters students. This includes over £5 million in scholarships for international students, such as our Global Excellence Scholarships*.

For more information on scholarships, please visit our scholarships and bursaries page.

*Selected programmes only. Please see the Terms and Conditions for each scheme for further details.

Teaching and research

Learning and Teaching

  • Each module typically delivered by lectures interspersed with seminar discussion, presentations, group work, reading and essay assignments
  • We bring in various subject experts, including alumni, to expose you to the latest thinking in the field
  • You will learn a range of social data science skills and their application to policy making and learn how to evaluate the suitability of these methods and the rationale for using them
  • We place a strong emphasis on the practical skills associated with working with data using a range of statistical software, including R, Stata and Python

Independent study

A large component of the MSc programme will include guided and independent study. The dissertation/research consultancy project is the main opportunity for you to apply the skills you have learnt to a policy-related topic of your own interest. You will also develop the communication of the findings of your work to a range of audiences using effective data visualisation tools.

Q-Step Centre

In addition to module based teaching we offer a variety of additional training including;

  • Applied Data Analysis workshops which seek to provide additional support to students interested in Quantitative Methods for the Social Sciences. These aspire to raise interest in Applied Data Analysis amongst both undergraduates and postgraduates, and embed quantitative literacy in wider University practice.
  • The Q-Step seminar series is a long-running successful annual postgraduate conference which brings together researchers from across all humanities and social science disciplines.

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Policy making in all sectors has become more data driven. Advanced training in issues of data use, data sharing, transparency, and accountability are important for both the public and private sectors.

Unlocking the potential of collecting, sharing and analysing massive amounts of administrative and economic, social and political information to bring economic and social benefits requires individuals trained in both evidence-based decision-making and social data science.

Employer valued skills

You will develop a variety of skills that are valued in professional and managerial careers: the ability to research and analyse information from a variety of sources along with written and verbal skills needed to present and discuss your opinions. The understanding you will gain of complex political and cultural issues, often in continually changing environments, can also be relevant to both business and public sector appointments.

Graduate careers

University of Exeter Politics postgraduates have been highly successful in securing interesting career opportunities and progressing to PhD level study. Previous students are now working for organisations such as The World Bank, The Bank of England, Department of Health and Social Care, Department of Work and Pensions, HMRC, Office for National Statistics, Youth Endowment Fund, Accenture, PWC, and a range of data science companies in the private sector. The course is also ideal if you are thinking of doing a PhD.

Employment and professional development

Our excellent Career Zone service provides invaluable support, advice and access to graduate employers. Visit the website for more information, including podcasts and profiles, about the range of support available.

Work placement

A work placement enables you to get hands-on analysis experience for a period of typically three to six weeks. There are a wide variety of placements to choose from locally, nationally and in Europe working in public sector organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and industry. 

Industry-based research consultancy project

Industry-based research consultancy projects are a variant to a more traditional style dissertation. These provide you with the opportunity to partner with an external organisation to examine a research question of mutual interest. This option is designed to integrate the applied nature of the course with direct workplace experience as you work on your project.

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