MSc in Social Science of the Internet

The MSc in Social Science of the Internet degree is an eleven-month residential Masters programme with a highly multi-disciplinary focus, providing students from a wide variety of backgrounds with an in-depth understanding of the social science concepts, theories and methods required to undertake research or policy analysis about the Internet.

The degree is designed for:

  • Students intending to focus on Internet-related research in the further pursuit of a doctoral degree in information, communication, or any of the social sciences;
  • Students wishing to gain the skills and knowledge needed for professional careers in leading technology companies, consulting firms, and the wide variety of businesses that increasingly need employees who understand technology and how people use it;
  • Students wishing to pursue a career in Internet communications policy or regulation;
  • Professionals working in Internet-related fields, and who wish to gain a broader understanding of the societal aspects of its design or use.

Students take a combination of examined core and option papers and produce a 10,000-15,000 word thesis on a research topic agreed with an academic supervisor. After completing the degree, students will have gained an in-depth understanding of the main disciplinary, theoretical and methodological debates on key Internet issues.

Why choose the MSc?

The OII is a dynamic and innovative centre for Internet-related research and teaching, located in a world-leading traditional research university. Our faculty work at the cutting-edge of their fields, and this innovative research is fully reflected in their course teaching. As a fully multi-disciplinary department, we offer our students the opportunity to study academic, practical and policy-related issues that can only be understood by drawing on contributions from across many different fields.

The department's busy calendar of seminars and events brings the most important people in the Internet world to the OII, allowing students to engage with the 'bleeding edge' of scholarship and debates around the Internet. Students also take full advantage of the unparalleled resources available at the University including world-ranking research facilities and libraries, and a busy student scene. With over 200 student societies across the University, whatever your interests or level (whether sporting, music, politics, journalism, etc.) there will probably be a group of students with similar interests. If there isn't, just start your own… Additionally, all incoming students are expected to attend the OII Student Induction Programme – a two-day introduction to the department, which includes an overview of both the MSc and DPhil degrees, an IT induction and a number of events where incoming students have an opportunity to meet members of faculty and current students.

Employers recognize the value of a degree from the University of Oxford, and our MSc graduates secure excellent positions in industry, government, NGOs, or go on to pursue doctoral studies at top universities. For example, non-academic destinations of graduates have included companies such as Google and Facebook, smaller start-ups like Academia.edu, as well as regulatory positions and consultancy. MSc alumni have also progressed to further graduate study at institutions such as Harvard, Princeton and LSE as well as other social science departments at the University of Oxford.

In short, if you're interested in rigorous Internet-related study and research, and want to join a challenging but friendly intellectual community, then the OII is the place for you! If you are looking for a general introduction to what it's like to study here, then a good place to start will be the Virtual Open Day.

  •  Andreas Birkbak Andreas Birkbak

    MSc student (2011)

    For me, one of the most important things about the OII has been the informal atmosphere and the everyday contact with leading researchers that is possible in a small department. Even as a Master's student on a one-year course, you are invited to engage in a rich range of seminars and exchange ideas with OII faculty as well as the many visiting researchers. Throughout the year, I found my background in Sociology very useful, but the interdisciplinary curriculum caters for many different perspectives. My year here has more than fulfilled the expectations that drew me from Copenhagen to Oxford: finding an academic home away from home that is at the cutting edge of sober, interdisciplinary social science of the Internet. This, supplemented by the amazing social life at graduate-only Green Templeton College, has made my year in Oxford thoroughly worthwhile.

  •  Amaru Villanueva Rance Amaru Villanueva Rance

    MSc student (2010)

    I am currently researching interpersonal visibility patterns in online social networks with an aim to understand what role 'looking', and 'being seen to be looking' plays as a social cue in interactions, both mediated and unmediated. Other academic interests include post-Kantian continental philosophy, aesthetics and actor-network theory. I applied to the OII after wandering into 1 St Giles out of sheer curiosity on a cold November afternoon. Once inside, I found the people were friendly and welcoming, and that the coffee machine was working. I have since discovered the value of the 'multidisciplinarity' of this place; you seldom have the same discussion twice, and are always stimulated to look at problems from new angles. This constant intellectual breeze never lets the air get stale. Prior to coming to the OII, I read Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University. A Bolivian native, I have done work on the regulation and ownership of energy firms for the Bolivian Ministry of Hydrocarbons, and in the UK I have worked as a Research Analyst in related fields. I am grateful for the St Anne's Centenary Scholarship which is helping to fund my time here. (Read about what Amaru is doing now...)