About the programme
Programme Academic Director
Elena Omelchenko is also the head of the Centre for Youth Studies at HSE-St.Petersburg, and the director of the “Region” think-tank. She authored more than 80 articles and books on sociology of youth on topics ranging from the history of “youth issue” in Russian politics to drug use among the young people. She is ranked among the 30 top Russian social scientists in 2000-2010 for her studies of sub-cultures. Her experience embraces leading positions in 80+ research projects, including numerous international ones. In 1997 she was awarded by the title of the honorary researcher of the Centre for Russian, European, and Eurasian Studies at Birmingham University (UK). Elena Omelchenko has also received numerous awards from the HSE.
Modern Social Analysis master program aims at broadening opportunities of bachelors of ANY background (literally, from physics to linguistics) by receiving world-class skills in sociology. We try to reveal social structures of everyday life, analyze social processes basing on scientific approach rather than intuition or prejudice. We show that habitual way of thinking about the social is often misleading, destroy stereotypes, teach not to delude yourselves, and not to lie when talking or writing about social processes.
Our program consists of two distinct tracks: Social Data Analysis (in English) and Social Analysis of Youth (Russian and English)
At the first semester of the first year students from both tracks study together to achieve necessary competences in social theory, basic qualitative and quantitative methods, and research ethics and communication. Social theory is taught at the cutting edge, basing on the most contemporary trends (classic old texts can be read by the students at their own pace using a list of recommended books on our website). We also have an adaptation course of English for those who need it. In your motivation letter we expect people to indicate their preferred track, however, they will have 1.5 months to change their decision and move from one track to another. Starting from the Spring semester of the 1st year all the students are divided into 2 tracks.
This track is designed for the students who aim at studying social reality based on facts, statistics, and digital data. We teach to use internet-data, surveys, social networks to tell impressive and evidence-based stories about societal processes.
Starting from the second semester on, people at “Social Data Analysis” track focus more on picking up a bunch of methods and techniques to collect, make sense of, and profoundly analyze social data. At this track, students learn social network analysis, advanced statistical methods, data visualization, Python, Machine Learning, agent-based modeling and social physics. All the courses are given from the scratch, we do not expect people to have any specific background, neither in sociology, nor in math. The only prerequisite is English, which is supposed to be at the relatively high level (at least, upper intermediate). Some courses have substantive rather than methodological focus. Those are social theory, and applied research on inequalities. The latter is focused on issues of social inequalities, such as gender, racial, ethnic, income, and their intersections.
At this track, researchers aim at working on contemporary agenda of youth studies: generational transformations in digital age, tastes, fashion, corporeality, gender, identity, subcultures, solidarities, youth scenes. Using contemporary youth trends as their field material, students learn qualitative methodology. They learn about the stages of fieldwork, interviewing techniques, ethnography, coding their results in NVivo и QDA Miner and analyze visual data. Students gain experience in real field projects, including shooting sociological movies, study to analyze the results of social policies, and to look for uncoventionalities of everyday life. Most lecturers and professors who teach at the track are affiliated with the Centre for Youth Studies, one of the leading research labs in Russia who focus on gender, qualitative methods, and youth studies.
The core classe that lasts for all the two years of studies is the Research Seminar – this is the laboratory of the future social scientist. Several advanced scholars who publish internationally train students from both years simultaneously how to put a research question, formulate it in a crystal-clear manner, pose hypotheses, address relevant literature, find proper data, analyze in the most up-to-date manner, and finalize the text. Students read each other’s drafts and comment on them, contributing to the progress of the whole group. We also read some current international publications on relevant topics to use best practices.
Optional part of the training at both tracks is quite voluminous. Each student has an opportunity to choose a project to participate in (apart from their main research that leads to master thesis). Projects are organized annually by the researchers of four sociological laboratories that are located in the campus as well as by the lecturers of the program (those two groups overlap significantly). Projects normally result in a collective publication or a grant application, and demonstrate a broad variety of topics, from studies of online games communities to cross-cultural research on values on “Social Data Analysis” track to debating society on gender and equality issues at “Social Analysis of Youth”. Every year students have MOOCs to choose from, and at the 1st year they also choose any class from the all-university MAGO-LEGO palette (those come from several departments, political science, computer science, oriental studies, history, and design).
At our program, we encourage and support inter-campus and international mobility, so that many students participate in conferences and study abroad for one of the semesters.
Higher School of Economics is now among the top-100 world universities in sociology (QS University World Rankings), and skills people receive here are fully up-to-date and in demand at the international academic and labor market, in particular in business-analytics. Ability to get and critically interpret data coming from various sources, to comment on social processes and events professionally, and to tell the story basing on evidence are among the key skills that students can apply in a variety of fields.
Our professors and lecturers are the leading Russian experts in an array of research fields from social network analysis to internet research, from sociology of culture and art to urban studies. This amazing group is really motivated to develop the program and to involve students into real international social research.