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MSc & Postgraduate Awards in Skills and Employment Research

MSc and Postgraduate Awards in Skills and Employment Research

About The University of Warwick and The Institute for Employment Research

The University of Warwick provides transformative learning and research opportunities that spark debate, fuel ambition and incite innovation. Ranked 9th in the United Kingdom* and 61st in the World**, the University of Warwick is an internationally-recognised centre of excellence.

The Institute for Employment Research (IER) was established in 1981 and delivers high quality research, disseminated to academic, policy and practitioner communities worldwide. With internationally renowned reputation in:

  • Labour market and skills intelligence
  • Education, training and skills
  • Job quality; fair, decent and good work
  • Employment practices
  • Regional and sectoral analysis
  • Welfare and social inclusion

* The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 ** QS World University Rankings

Why this course?

The MSc Skills and Employment Research has been designed specifically to provide learners with the know-how to tackle the range of skills and employment issues that governments around the world increasingly need to tackle.

Economic success is increasingly dependent upon skills. All governments point to the importance of improving their nation’s supply of skills to boost economic growth. Evidence suggests that a substantial share of workers are not well prepared for the challenges ahead.

In Europe, the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills revealed that:

  • 20% of the working age population had low literacy and numeracy scores;
  • 25% lack

    the skills to effectively make use of digital technologies;

  • nearly 40% of EU companies experience problems finding people with the skills they need.

These are the types of issue which policy makers and skills analysts must increasingly address. This course has been developed with the learning needs of those already working in these roles in mind, along with those looking to develop a career in skills and employment research.

Course overview

Improving skills supply is a major policy goal for governments across the world. Over recent decades there have been a wealth of policy initiatives and programme developments designed to achieve this goal, including:

  • Transformations of the initial vocational education and training system which equips young people with the skills to successfully enter and progress in the labour market;
  • Substantially increasing access to higher education;
  • Providing adults, either in or out of work, with the means to update their skills;
  • The creation of skill eco-systems where the skills system and industry engage in mutually beneficial activities.

The design, implementation, assessment and evaluation of measures to improve the way in which education and training supports provision of skills, that both economy and society need, is complicated.

The analyst responsible for these kinds of issues needs to have knowledge and expertise across a range of disciplines and methodologies. The MSc Skills and Employment Research will provide that knowledge and expertise.

Entry requirements

MSc and PG Award*

1. Degree or equivalent

2. Overall IELTS (Academic, UKVI or Online) score of 7.0 and minimum component scores of two at 6.0/6.5 and the rest at 7.0 or above

*PG Award in Advanced qualitative methods in skills and employment research, Advanced quantitative methods in skills and employment research and Using data science techniques in skills research will require previous relevant research methods qualifications at postgraduate level or equivalent.

Course structure and delivery

MSc: Two-years part-time (online provision)

Postgraduate Award (PGA): Three months part-time — one module (online provision)

All modules, except for the Dissertation module, are offered as a PG Award (20 CATS).

Year 1

Two core modules and two optional modules are completed in year 1. All modules, except for the Dissertation module, are offered as a PG Award (20 CATS).

Year 2

Two optional modules plus the dissertation module are completed in year 2.

Module structure

Each module (except the dissertation) will be structured as follows:

  • 9 weekly sessions over a 10–week period;
  • There will be 1–2 hours of lectures a week plus a group seminar.


The assessment process for all modules (except the dissertation):

  • Presentation or poster (group or individual) to peers, or a multiple-choice test
  • Essay (3,000 words)

Core Modules

1. Introduction to skills and employment research

  • Understanding of all the main concepts used in skills research
  • Understanding of key methodological approaches used in skills and employment research

2. Research methods in skills and employment research

  • Main quantitative and qualitative methodologies which are used to examine skills
  • Detailed insights into the main techniques for collecting data on skills

3. Dissertation (10,000 words)

  • A supervisor will provide support in setting the objectives of the dissertation, research methodology, analysis and drafting.

Optional modules
(four from the following seven)

1. Introduction to the economics of education, training and skills

  • Examine various theories starting with the standard human capital model;
  • Exploring extensions of this model and alternatives to it;
  • Practical sessions on how to measure skills and the return on investment in skills.

2. Design of qualifications, curricula and assessment

  • Theories relating to qualification and curriculum design;
  • Adoption of the output or competence-based approaches;
  • Theoretical perspective along with examples of different approaches as used in a range of countries.

3. Advanced quantitative methods in skills and employment research

  • Develop quantitative skills;
  • Introduction to multivariate statistics typically used in skills research (including multiple regression, cluster analysis, etc.).

Optional modules

4. Advanced qualitative methods in skills and employment research

  • Develop understanding of how to undertake qualitative research;
  • Understand theoretical aspects and software used to analyse qualitative data.

5. Programme evaluation and assessment

  • Overview of how to conduct real-world evaluations and assessments of employment and skills programmes;
  • Gain practical knowledge of dealing with real world situations which need to be cognisant of the context of the programmes.

6. Job design, job quality and skills utilisation

  • Overview of the principles of jobs and skills utilisation;
  • Understand how the productivity gains from skills development can be realised.

7. Using data science techniques in skills research

  • Learn about skills sources which are not readily accessible using traditional social research techniques;
  • How to use text mining / natural language programming techniques to collate information on skills from a wide variety of sources.