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Applied Social Data Science (MSc/PG Diploma)

This programme is for students with a strong interest in the social world and who wish to learn how to effectively apply cutting-edge quantitative methods to solve real-world political, economic, and social problems.

What is the Applied Social Data Science programme?

The Applied Social Data Science programme at Trinity College Dublin offers both an MSc and a Postgraduate Diploma, as well as an MSc top-up option for graduates of the Postgraduate Diploma programme. This one-year, full-time programme is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to apply data science techniques to real-world social problems, such as poverty, inequality, and social exclusion.

The programme covers a broad range of topics, including applied statistical analysis, machine learning, quantitative text analysis, experimental methods, and spatial data analysis, as well as other specialized topics in social data science. Students who are enrolled in the MSc in Applied Social Data Science will have the opportunity to conduct a dissertation under the guidance and supervision of an experienced academic staff member.

Graduates of the Applied Social Data Science programme will be well-equipped for a wide range of careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including data scientist, social media analyst, policy analyst, and market researcher. In addition, they may be well-suited for roles in government agencies, think tanks, and advocacy organizations. The programme also provides a strong foundation for further study at the doctoral level in a wide range of social science disciplines.

Trinity College Dublin is Ireland's oldest and most prestigious university, with a strong tradition of excellence in research and teaching. The Applied Social Data Science programme is suitable for students with a background in social sciences, computer science, or a related field. Professionals looking to develop their data science skills and apply them to social problems are also encouraged to apply. The Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Data Science Programme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union. To learn more about this collaboration please visit the EU Funds website.

Why this programme?

The programme is based in Ireland’s highest ranked Department of Political Science. Our department enjoys a strong reputation internationally for its staff who rely on quantitative research methods, and who are well published in leading peer-reviewed academic journals. Staff research agendas include core skills offered in the Applied Social Data Science programme, including computer programming, statistical modeling, machine learning, quantitative text analysis and forecasting.

  • You will acquire fluency in widely used programming languages and gain the skills to collect and manage big data-sets.
  • You will learn how to apply and critically assess computational and statistical models to solve real-world social problems.
  • Seminars and class discussions will provide you the opportunities to enhance your critical thinking skills and acquire an in-depth understanding of quantitative social scientific research.

Course Structure

The one year MSc and Postgraduate Diploma programmes cover a wide range of core modules which will help you expand your quantitative research methods toolkit.

  • First Semester: To start the course, you will take modules in computer programming, applied statistical analysis and research design.
  • Second Semester: Next, you will dig deeper by taking modules in machine learning, forecasting methods, and quantitative text analysis. Students will be required to take three out of four optional modules.
  • MSc students will complete their dissertations following the completion of lectures and assessment of taught components.

Please visit the Course Content section for more details. All modules are taught around a weekly seminar with tutorial sessions and assessed with a mix of homework, exams, and research papers. Students are expected to bring their own laptop (Mac/Windows/Linux) for use in seminars and tutorials throughout the course; note - tablets are not suitable. For minimum laptop specs, please see this helpful guide

Career prospects

The Applied Social Data Science postgraduate MSc/Diploma award from Trinity is expected to provide you with a competitive edge in the rapidly expanding job market for data scientists:

  • You will acquire valuable skills which are sought after in the high productivity sectors, including information technology, consulting, financial services, risk-assessment, logistics, as well as positions in government, NGOs and academia.
  • You will become fluent in two very popular (and demanded) programming languages, R and Python.
  • You will gain working knowledge and application experience in advanced statistical analysis, machine learning and important applications such as social forecasting and quantitative text analysis.
  • You will gain significant experience with methods and approaches to researching social behavioural phenomena within the context of the digital revolution and big data.

A data analytics degree is proving to be an invaluable asset for today’s labour market. Figures from Indeed, an online job site, suggest that the number of job postings for holders of a data science (or equivalent) degree has increased over 344% since January 2013, with a 29% growth rate year over year. Dice, another online job site, claims a 35% year over year growth rate and has labelled data science as a “high-demand skill”. There is general agreement that there is high demand for data scientists, and crucially, demand outstrips supply. For example, in August 2018, LinkedIn reported that there’s a shortage of 151,717 people with data science skills in the U.S. The average salary for a data scientist in the US has been estimated at 106,000 USD by Dice.

A unique trait of the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Data Science programme is that it combines rigorous training in methods from computer science and statistics with social science research skills. There is high demand for social scientists who can apply machine learning and statistical methods for data-driven solutions to challenges faced by governments, political groups, and civil society organizations. For instance, political organizations seek employees who can use computational approaches to analyze large-scale digitized collections of political communication, including social media feeds of elected officials, transcripts of parliamentary debates, and government agency press releases. Government agencies seek employees with experience in applying statistical forecasting methods to predict international conflict, terrorism, and disease outbreaks. Non-profit organizations are keen to hire people who are able to apply machine learning and natural language processing methods to help create data-driven solutions for disabled people. These are just a few examples of the jobs our graduates can pursue with the knowledge that they will have gained from the programme. For non-EU students, it is possible to stay and work in Ireland following course completion using a Stamp 1G visa; see the Trinity Careers Service and the Department of Justice and Equality site for details.

Admission requirements?

  • Admission to the course is competitive. Applicants will be expected to hold an upper second class honours (2:1) degree or higher from an established university. A background in a social science discipline or computer science, statistics, or other related discipline will be an advantage but is not required. Applications are expected from candidates who wish to acquire practical knowledge in using cutting-edge statistical methods to answer social scientific questions.
  • GPA scores of at least 3.3 out of 4, or equivalent, will be expected from international applicants.
Visit the Admissions Requirements section for full details


The Applied Social Data Science (MSc/PG Diploma) fees at a glance:

Course Type EU Non-EU
MSc €18,000 €23,000
MSc (Top-up option) €8,000 €8,000
PG Diploma €12,790 €14,830

For more information on fees, please visit the Academic Registry website

The Department is not in a position to offer scholarships/fee waivers to incoming students; we recommend investigating funding/scholarship options before making an application e.g:

It may also be possible to claim tax relief on tuition fees, see the Revenue site for details.

We are excited to announce the Constantia Maxwell award for the 2023/24 academic year. This prestigious award of €3000 will be given to one exceptional student based purely on academic merit, as determined by the admissions committee. We would like to emphasize that no application is required for consideration, as the committee will carefully review academic records to identify a deserving recipient. We wish all the students the best in their academic pursuits and look forward to recognising the achievements of the selected recipient.

Further Information

Enquiries can be made to the HCI and Postgraduate Programmes Coordinator ( for Postgraduate Diploma enquiries and for MSc enquiries) or the Course Director of the Applied Social Data Science programmes, Dr Jeffrey Ziegler. Please make sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions before emailing.

How to Apply

MSc Applied Social Data Science

TCD applications for the MSc in Applied Social Data Science for 2024/25 are open! If you would like to apply for the course, please do so here.

MSc Applied Social Data Science (Top-up Option)

Admissions for the MSc ASDS (Top-up Option) will begin early March. If you have completed your Postgraduate Diploma in ASDS in the last four years and are interested in the Top-up option, please register your interest here or send an email to Please note: the deadline to register your interest for the September 2024 intake is 31st May 2024.

Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Data Science

TCD Direct applications for 2024/25 are open. If you would like to apply for the course, please do so here. Alternatively, if you are interested in applying through Springboard+ please go here.

Please visit the Admissions Requirements section for full details of the application documentation and access to the online application portals.