Our vision for social science students revolves around key strengths in the University in relation to key challenges of economic growth, inequality, conflict, migration, national identity and modern developments (such as technology and Big Data for instance) which impact on social behavior. Conservation and energy, public health, neuroscience, psychometrics, language sciences, and public policy all feature here as strategic initiatives. Membership of the DTC and DTP thus brings great opportunity to engage with ongoing cutting edge multi-disciplinary research. Indeed, graduate researchers add to the dynamic nature of the activity. We very much want to create a generation of students who can cut across disciplinary boundaries and think as social scientists beyond single disciplines and at the same time contribute to ways of addressing broad societal challenges.
Our particular vision for the postgraduates (ESRC sponsored students and ultimately the broader social science postgraduate community) involves not only excellent academic discipline-based training, but a wide range of competencies, including comprehensive methodological training so that students have a full tool kit of methodological skills (including advanced quantitative skills), an understanding of the potential and pitfalls of working with secondary data, big data and new forms of data (such as social media), and comprehension of ethical dimensions of this work. As indicated, we also want our social science students to have capacity and opportunities for creative work across disciplinary boundaries, and communication skills so as to be able to engage in effective knowledge exchange with partners in government and civil society organizations; in public services, in the third sector, business and industry. We want our social scientist students to have awareness and experience of ‘real world’ research beyond academic confines, through workshops, placements and internships with external partners, and alertness to innovation – whether in terms of substantive topics which emerge in a fast-changing social world (e.g. concerns about human trafficking and migration; new forms of terrorism) or methodological and technological innovation (e.g. real-time analysis, and analysis of complex social networks). We want our postgraduates to be equipped to be at the forefront of broader social science developments in the future and to able to engage with public policy as it evolves. We also want our postgraduates to generate research evidence to shape policy. We think that this skillset is necessary for the next generation of social scientists. In sum, we want to promote excellence in social science, develop students’ capacity for taking initiative, and foster a strong sense of responsibility not only in collaborations with external partners during the course of a Ph.D, but beyond this.
We hope that you will be up for this! We have high expectations of you – but will give every support and opportunity that we can through your departments, research groups and clusters which bring together people interested in related topics and challenges, through our Social Science Research Methods Programme (which adds to any existing methods training within your department), through allied personal and professional development training opportunities, and through DTC and DTP activities themselves (workshops which involve engagement with public policy makers, research in industry, business, government and non-government organisations). We are also able to offer you opportunities for placements and internships on a national and international level. Our aim is to help you become social scientists for the future!