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Unit information: Social Research Methods in 2018/19

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Unit name Social Research Methods
Unit code SOAD20004
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Turner
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Unit description
Social Research Methods builds on the knowledge and skills gained on the first-year Critical Skills unit. This second-year unit brings together staff with diverse research interests, approaches and disciplinary backgrounds with the purpose of extending and deepening students’ knowledge of a range of methods. The unit is a pre-requisite for single honours students who are required to submit a dissertation in their final year, which must have a strong methodological framework. Therefore, the unit has been designed with a view to covering a wide variety of possible ways students can approach and research a particular topic of inquiry for their dissertation. Joint honours students who do not have to submit a dissertation will find that the unit helps them to understand the process of social research from start to finish, shining light on several issues that might be encountered in work within and beyond university life. A range of theoretical perspectives that form the undercurrent of social research will be covered, to illustrate how empirical investigations of social life are always theoretically informed.

· To ensure students understand what defines and characterises social research
· To deepen students’ understanding of the meaning and relevance of quantitative and qualitative approaches to social research
· To extend students’ knowledge of the range of methods used in gathering research data for analysis
· To ensure students have the skills to evaluate the strengths and limitations of different methods and analysis.
· To reflect on some of the important constraints – especially ethical constraints – which apply when research is underway, or when data is analysed, interpreted and used to make an argument

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. The ability to devise and plan a small-scale research project related to their discipline
  2. An appreciation of reflexivity and a capacity to recognise social research as process for investing social life.

Teaching details

Lectures; classes involving exercises and group discussion.

Assessment Details

Formative - A 1,500 word review of a published piece of research (selected from a short list provided) that focuses on the methods/methodology that informed the research findings.

Summative - 3,000 word research proposal on a topic (selected from a short list provided) that sets out the research design, provides justification for the approach taken and provides consideration of two alternative methods. The assignments are designed to assess both ILOs

Reading and References

  • Babbie, E. (2015) The Practice of Social Research (14th ed) Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
  • Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods (5th ed) Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Creswell, J. (2018) Research Design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Gilbert, N. and Stoneham P (Eds) (2015) Researching Social Life (4th ed) London: Sage
  • May, T. (2011) Social Research: Issues, methods, and process (4th edn). Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Seale, C. (Ed.) (2018) Researching Society and Culture (4th ed) London: Sage