Higher Education Partnership

Applications now open for new postgraduate course

Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS) members can now apply for the new Graduate Certificate in Survey and Market Research Methods, being delivered by the University of Wollongong (UOW) at its Sydney campus from 4 February 2011.

Upon completion, those with five years or more experience (with at least two of those years practising in Australia) will automatically become Qualified Practising Market Researchers (QPMR), without needing to sit the QPMR exam. Full membership of the Society is also a requirement of QPMR accreditation.

‘It’s an exciting time for us, as it’s the first time the profession and industry has had a postgraduate course,’ says AMSRS president Peter Harris. ‘Not only do we now have a course, but also it has been developed with our input.

‘This announcement really shows how AMSRS is delivering what members want, as the development of a postgraduate course was ranked as a priority for action by many in our recent member survey. At the same time, our partnership with the UoW reflects that fact that we’ve recognised that we can’t do everything on our own. We chose to partner with UoW because it was happy to have our input, has great teaching staff and is able to deliver the course in Sydney, our largest market.’

The teaching staff who will deliver the graduate certificate includes researchers from both overseas and Australia who all have extensive experience and international reputations, including David Steel, Barry Elliott, Phil Hughes and Robert Clark from Australia and Pamela Campenelli and James Brown from the UK.

National professional development program (PDP) chair Bob White says this is a watershed moment for the research profession that will better equip it to respond to the challenges brought about by both economic conditions and the impact of digital technology.

‘Introducing postgraduate education will set up the profession so it can weather these types of storms and not get sidetracked from what it means to be a research professional. I would argue that while how we do research and the tools we use continually change, our fundamental role hasn’t changed.

‘This is an opportune time to identify our core skills,’ White explains, noting that the new QPMR exam required the development of a syllabus. ‘QPMR is one attempt to define the profession. The next logical step was a postgraduate course.’

White says attempts to establish a postgraduate course began in earnest in August 2008. Separately, UoW started developing a postgraduate certificate in survey methods specifically designed to meet the needs of staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics and government health departments. UoW then agreed to broaden the course so it would appeal to more people working in the industry. Most importantly, from an AMSRS and AMSRO perspective, the course will be based around the QPMR syllabus and include a substantial qualitative research component.

White says he wanted to specially thank both Barry Elliott and Phil Hughes, who each have contributed a lot to AMSRS professional development activities (Elliott, in particular, has played a key role in developing the QPMR syllabus) and who are now helping to ensure that the postgraduate course has a real world, practical focus.

Professor David Steel, who is the director of the Centre for Statistical and Survey Methodology at UoW, says the graduate certificate is structured so that students can obtain a university qualification in one year’s part-time study but only study one subject at a time. He says that the syllabus will be continually reviewed to ensure that it covers the relevant topics and current issues facing the industry.

‘After completing the graduate certificate students can take another year of part-time study to complete a Masters degree that will include a project developed in collaboration with businesses and government agencies involved in market and social research,’ Steel adds. ‘Students will benefit from formal training in a variety of methods of direct use in their career development.’

The course has been structured so interstate travellers might attend. Over the year, students will need to attend lectures for a total of 20 days over four terms. Classes will be held every second Friday at the Sydney Business School located in the Sydney CBD, starting in February 2011. The program is designed for students with a range of academic and professional backgrounds and experience with an interest in further developing skills in research methods.

The plan is to, in time, offer the course online but White says: ‘We really want to get the face to face delivery on site right first to ensure the highest standard of quality.’
It is also intended that similar courses will be offered at other university campuses in future – the arrangement with UoW is not exclusive.

White concludes by saying that the profession’s future leaders should be earmarked to do the course.

Harris adds: ‘This new course shows where the Society is heading, towards a “whole of life” education approach. We aim to one day have programs in high schools to educate students about what a career in market and social research could be like and will continue to participate in university career days. Then there’s the graduate trainee program (currently operating in Victoria but under review for other states), followed by this new postgraduate course and the QPMR scheme.’

The course fees in 2011 will be $8,820 ($2,205 per subject). More information… or email dsteel@uow.edu.au


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