Module SXU-2001:
Methods of Social Research

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Roger Slack

Overall aims and purpose

strong textThis module further develops the methodological imagination'. It covers methods used in contemporary social science research, with focus on issues of research design, novel methods, and data collection and analysis. The aim is to provide students with a comprehensive methodologicaltoolkit'. Within each component a range of methods are presented and critically assessed using exemplary studies. The module is designed so that students appreciate the `grammar' of methods and have the ability to critically reflect on methods as foundational in social science. Each of the learning outcomes will be part of teaching and assessment in both semesters.

Course content

The course covers a number of issues key to research: planning; ethics; philosophy of research; mixed and multi-method designs; some ways of thinking differently about research; systematic literature reviews. Semester two will focus on data analysis and presentation, highlighting the potential and pitfalls of computer-based data analysis as well as the need to draw inferences from and to write about data.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Describe the underlying structure of research designs as represented in published research articles. Identify the main forms of data collection used in social science. Recognise the main forms of same design and the implications of different designs for the validity of research findings. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to research in social science.

good

Describe and explain the underlying structure of research designs as represented in published research articles. Identify the main forms of data collection used in social science. Recognise the main forms of sample design and the implications of different designs for, inter alia, the validity of research findings. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to research in social science. Give an evidence-based understanding of the philosophical and practical principles of social research

excellent

Describe, explain and critically evaluate the structure of research designs as represented in published research articles. Identify and show evidence of critical reflection on the main forms of data collection used in social science. Recognise the main forms of sample design and show the ability to explain their implications for the conduct and outcomes of social research. To identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to research in social science in a manner that evinces critical reflection and appropriate evidence from extant studies. Show an evidence-based understanding of the principles of social research in terms of both philosophically and praxis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the philosophical foundations of research methods.

  2. Show a critical understanding of the range of research methods.

  3. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of a range of research methods.

  4. Show a critical appreciation of the issues involved in the design, planning, conduct, and end product(s) of research methods.

  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the issues around the management, analysis and presentation of data from research methods.

  6. Be able to apply particular methods or a selection of methods appropriately with regard to the topic researched

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 2,500 words (Sem1) 50
Essay 2,500 words (Sem2) 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Workshop

Weekly workshops of two hours. This will include some lecture format work, some discussion, and use of online media as appropriate. Podcasts will be made available.

24
Private study

Students will be expected to read and prepare for workshops, apply methods discussed to their own interests, reading and critical reflection, and to be aware of what is involved in research as both process and product.

176

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Analyse health and health issues, alongside health information and data that may be drawn from a wide range of disciplines;
  • Draw upon, and consider, lived experiences of health, well-being and illness from diverse sources and perspectives.
  • Capacity to identify and describe the causes and consequences of social order and change in specific contexts.
  • Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
  • Appreciate a range of research designs and strategies and how they may be applied to sociological investigations.
  • Competence to carry out a piece of sociological research using either primary or secondary data, or both.
  • Be able to recognize how social data and sociological knowledge apply to questions of public policy.
  • Undertake either on their own, or in collaboration with others, investigations of social questions, issues and problems, using statistical and other data derived from research publications.
  • Analyse and discuss social policy and related issues distinguishing between normative and empirical questions
  • The ability to identify criminological problems, formulate questions and investigate them
  • The ability to recognise a range of ethical problems associated with research and to take action in accordance with the guidelines of ethical practice developed by the British Society of Criminology and cognate professional bodies
  • The ability to identify and deploy a range of research strategies including qualitative and quantitative methods and the use of published data sources and to select and apply appropriate strategies for specific research problems; and the ability to present the philosophical and methodological background to the research of others and to one's own research.
  • Understand the relationship between theory, research design, and the selection of research methods and be able to identify and critically evaluate the epistemological positions upon which they are predicated.
  • Understand the basic principles of research design and strategy (including how to formulate researchable questions and the considerations affecting inference and proof, reliability and validity in different styles of research), sufficient to enable them to make appropriate choices in their own research.
  • Appreciate and apply a broad range of research methods and tools (underpinned by a strong conceptual awareness of the research processes and their underlying philosophies).
  • Appreciate philosophical, ethical and methodological issues in criminological and sociological research.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: