A Public Social Science for Social Justice. SOCIO5088

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course explores the relationship of social research to struggles for social justice (what role does social research have in respect of such struggles, and what role can it play), with a particular focus on work undertaken in the context of global migrations and consequent social inequalities. It introduces wider theoretical debates over the nature of a public social science, and draws on the reflections of both researchers and non-academics engaged in working with and for migrant communities in order to consider the practical, ethical and emotional challenges (and possibilities) of undertaking engaged and politically committed social research in this context.


Weekly two hours sessions through the first semester.

Requirements of Entry

None for the course specifically, but entry to the MSc/MRes programme requires a good first degree in a relevant discipline.

Excluded Courses



This is one of two core courses on the MSc/MRes Global Migrations and Social Justice; the other is Global Migrations: Histories, Structures, Experiences. 


Summative assessment is composed of 1 x 2,500 word essay, and 1 x 1,500 word report.


The former will be a more conventional academic assignment, designed to allow students to reflect on the theoretical debates around the notion of a public social science.


The latter will ask students to reflect upon the practical and methodological challenges of engaged social research in the context of migration, either by providing a critical consideration on their own personal or professional experience of such work or by engaging with the reflective responses of other researchers to these experiences.


This 'reflective report' will be oriented 'forwards'; i.e. towards learning the lessons of this particular experience, so as to try to identify how social research might more effectively emerge from, be informed by, or be communicated to, non-academic partners and audiences.

Course Aims

This course aims to create a space in which students can consider and reflect on the role that social research might play in struggles for social justice in the context of work with and for migrant communities. Drawing on the insights and reflections of both academic and non-academic contributors, it aims to allow students to think carefully and critically about the various dimensions of this question.


■ At a theoretical level, it introduces debates about the kinds of knowledge which social research produces, about the relationship of social inquiry to normative positions, and about the conception of 'publics' or 'communities' or 'movements' with which academic research might be aligned;


■ At a methodological level, it explores the challenges of organizing and conducting politically engaged social research: it considers the possibilities and constraints on 'co-production' in such research, as well considering how social research might be better aligned with the needs of non-academic communities, audiences and organizations;


■ At a practical level, it considers the emotional, ethical and political challenges which might be raised by such work.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Critically reflect on the concept of a public or engaged social science;

■ Think through the methodological and practical challenges involved in politically committed social research;

■ Bring these reflections to bear in the consideration of a specific example of academic research - existing or prospective - which is committed to social justice in the context of global migration.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.