MRS Diploma course in detail

Course overview

Our MRS Diploma course is delivered online. It is designed to be social as well as structured and supportive, and you’ll study with people from the UK and around the world. In most weeks you’ll attend an hour-long online tutorial led by one of our experienced tutors. In other weeks you may have a one-to-one call with your personal tutor to discuss coursework. The tutorials are recorded so you can catch up easily if you miss one, and we provide a number of video lectures to supplement your reading.

This approach to distance learning, with intensive online tutorials, is unique to the Research Academy. It means you can ask questions and discuss your readings in real time. Class sizes are small (typically less than 12 people), so you’ll have ample opportunity to participate in discussions and ask questions. In some units, you’ll also be asked to formally present your work during the tutorials.

Throughout the course, you can chat with your tutors and classmates in the course forum. You’ll have many opportunities to apply what you’ve learned by completing a series of mock exam tasks, and you’ll get constructive feedback on your written coursework. Finally, your personal tutor will be at hand to support you. This structured, interactive learning approach will enable you to master a lot of material and keep you on track for the coursework and exams.

To learn more please continue reading or order our MRS Diploma prospectus.

In summary
Cost: £6,380.00 plus VAT, payable in four instalments
Duration: Two years of part-time study, split across four semesters
Dates and times: Live online tutorials held Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings; this differs by semester
Next course start date: 21 August 2017
If you’re studying elsewhere and want to join our ongoing Diploma course: Apply today!

Our special offer to holders of the MRS Advanced Certificate

We offer a MRS Diploma Conversion Course for people who already hold the MRS Advanced Certificate, which will save you time and money.

Why study for the MRS Diploma?

With so many new approaches to generating insight, senior researchers need the ability to judge where an approach is suitable (or not) and the ability to justify their choices to clients and colleagues coherently and confidently.

This means developing a deep understanding of research theory and practice, design considerations, practical constraints and the latest developments in research. Studying for the MRS Diploma will enable you to thoroughly evaluate traditional and new methods, ensure that your research yields valuable insights, and equip you to give persuasive explanations to clients and colleagues.

Having the MRS Diploma on your CV will set you apart in the eyes of employers when applying for senior positions. It will also give you a competitive edge with clients. The MRS Diploma is such a valuable credential that top agencies like Ipsos MORI and GfK encourage staff to complete it in-house. Our MRS Diploma students have repeatedly told us that the course was making a big difference in their work and that their managers and colleagues were favourably impressed. Some students have even been promoted to more senior roles during the course.

Once you’re awarded the MRS Diploma, you can immediately become a Certified Member of the MRS, which comes with a raft of benefits such as a free subscription to the International Journal of Market Research.

Finally, the MRS is the world’s largest research association and its Diploma is recognised internationally. According to the MRS, students from over 40 countries take the exams for its qualifications and the numbers are going up every year.

Why study for the MRS Diploma with us?

At the Research Academy we are dedicated to providing the highest quality of tuition and support for MRS Diploma students.

We aim to train good researchers, and we think participatory teaching and learning are the best way to do this. This means lots of discussion and debate, lots of asking questions and sharing ideas, and plenty of feedback on coursework and mock exam questions.

Our teaching approach gets indisputable results. Our first-attempt pass rate for the December 2013 Unit 1 exam cycle was 80%, which compares favourably with an average of 72% for all first attempts. Please note that our pass rate is based on a small sample size, and will vary over time. The average pass rate is for all students attempting Unit 1 for the first time, from 2009 to 2013.

Finally, our teaching team has a deep understanding of what market research is and what it is used for. All of us currently work in market research, social research or both, and each one of us has been a university lecturer, a trainer or both – some of us for more than 20 years.

Course structure and assessment

The MRS Diploma consists of five units, of which you need to complete four. In Year 2, you can choose between the advanced quantitative and qualitative units.

To fit with your family life, our courses are aligned to the UK academic calendar (the London Borough of Islington’s calendar, to be precise). This means you can take a break during UK half-terms.

Because the assessment is cumulative, it is best if you complete the units in sequential order. Our course is designed to let you do this, as illustrated below.

MRS Diploma online course structure

Unit 1: The Principles of Market & Social Research
Autumn semester of Year 1
This unit will allow you to develop the knowledge and skills required to plan, undertake and present results from market and social research, and to understand and use other information sources within this process. Unit 1 covers all the basics of market and social research, as its role is to provide a foundation on which the other units are built. Unit 1 is assessed by means of a written, pen-and-paper exam.

Unit 2: The Practice & Context of Market & Social Research
Spring semester of Year 1
This unit will help you develop an understanding of the theoretical and scientific principles which underpin market and social research, and how these impact on research in practice. The concept of ‘fitness for purpose’ is central to this. Therefore the unit also addresses critical evaluation of the practical limitations of the application of theory in the real world. Unit 2 is assessed by means of a four-part written coursework assignment.

Unit 3: Analysing & Interpreting Quantitative Market & Social Research Data
Autumn semester of Year 2
This unit will give you both the detailed knowledge and the skills to interpret and report on quantitative market research data. It therefore builds on the exploration of quantitative data gathering techniques in Unit 1 and the deeper consideration of attitudes, behaviours and measurement in Unit 2. Unit 3 is assessed by means of a written coursework assignment based on a series of tasks related to a given quantitative dataset.

Unit 4: Collecting, Analysing & Interpreting Qualitative Market & Social Research Data
Autumn semester of Year 2
This unit will give you both the detailed knowledge and the skills to gather, interpret and report on qualitative market research data. It therefore builds on the exploration of qualitative data collection techniques in Unit 1 and the deeper consideration of attitudes and behaviours in Unit 2. Unit 4 is assessed by means of a written coursework assignment in which you evaluate and critique a qualitative research process with which you have been directly involved. You will need to moderate a minimum of one focus group or conduct a minimum of four depth interviews.

Remember, you have a choice between units 3 and 4.

Unit 5: Case Studies in Market & Social Research
Spring semester of Year 2
The final unit makes use of real-life case studies to illustrate and resolve dilemmas that arise in research practice. The aim is to allow you to develop a holistic approach to problem solving using research-based intelligence. Unit 5 encompasses the entire research process, from research brief through to the research proposal, focusing on the management of the research process and analysis of the choices and decisions. It builds on the understanding of approaches and techniques covered in Units 1, 3 and 4 and develops further the criticality which is central to Unit 2. Unit 5 is assessed by means of a written, pen-and-paper exam.

For more detail on the various units and their content please download the full syllabus from the MRS.

Times, dates and locations
The course runs for two years, divided over four semesters. Each semester has ten teaching weeks, many of which feature an online tutorial. A few weeks are devoted to coursework or exam preparation. The exact structure of each unit varies with the assessment requirements and assessment date. For instance Unit 1 is quite structured while Units 2, 3 and 4  feature more independent study and one-to-one calls.

Over the course of each semester you’ll receive guidance on the unit assessment. You’ll apply what you’re learning to mock exam and coursework tasks as you go, ensuring your success with the MRS assessment. To get a feel for our semester structure, please read our Unit 1 calendar and materials sheet, which you can download together with our MRS Diploma prospectus.

Live, online tutorials are held from 1100-1200 BST/GMT on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday as follows:
Unit 1: Wednesdays 1100-1200 BST/GMT
Unit 2: Wednesdays 1100-1200 BST/GMT
Unit 3: Mondays 1100-1200 BST/GMT
Unit 4: Thursdays 1100-1200 BST/GMT
Unit 5: Thursdays 1100-1200 BST/GMT

You can take part in forum discussions and attend tutorials from any location – all you need is a computer, laptop or tablet with an internet connection. And you can chat with your tutors and classmates in the course forum at any time!

Cost, and payment methods and scholarships

Our MRS Diploma course in academic year 2017/18 costs £6,380.00 plus VAT. This includes tuition and support, as well as the MRS registration and exam fees. It does not include the cost of the recommended course textbooks or of fees related to taking the exam outside of the UK. For more information about overseas exams, please click here.

You can choose to pay the course fees in four instalments, i.e. one payment per semester. The breakdown is as follows:

Cost plus VAT
Unit 1* £2,020.00
Unit 2 £1,445.00
Unit 3/4 £1,445.00
Unit 5** £1,470.00
Total for UK-based students £6,380.00
Overseas exam fees*** £110.00
Total for students outside of the UK**** £6,490.00

*Unit 1 includes the MRS Diploma registration fee and an MRS exam fee.
**Unit 5 includes an MRS exam fee.
***Please note that MRS exam fees are higher for students outside of the UK. For more information about this, please click here.
****Please note that UK VAT applies to students in the EU, but not outside of it.

You can pay your instalments by cheque, direct debit or BACS. You can also pay for the entire course up front; some employers prefer this.

The Research Academy offers an annual MRS Diploma Scholarship; please click here for more details.

Assessment and support
The MRS Diploma is assessed externally, i.e. by MRS examiners, and each unit of the Diploma is assessed individually. Units 1 and 5 are assessed via an exam; Units 2, 3 and 4 are assessed by a written coursework assignment. For details, please download the MRS Diploma syllabus.

Because we want you to do well, we’ll give you lots of support with the assessment for each unit. For units assessed by exam, the final session in the semester is devoted to exam revision and exam strategies, and you’ll get feedback on relevant mock exam questions. For units assessed by coursework, you will receive personal feedback on your assignment from one of our tutors.

During the course of each semester, you will also have the opportunity to practice with mock exam and coursework tasks. For the most important topics, you’ll get feedback from us on these tasks too.

Submitting your coursework drafts and final coursework assignments is easy. It’s all done via our online learning environment, so there’s no need to print multiple copies of your work or worry about it getting lost in the post. If you’re studying outside the UK, you can take the exams at your local British Council – click here to learn more about this.

To learn about upcoming assessment dates, please visit the MRS website.

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