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Unit information: Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences (SPS) in 2016/17

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Unit name Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences (SPS)
Unit code SPOLM0013
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Demi Patsios
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

Introduction to Qualitative Research Introduction to Quantitative Research Understanding Educational Research (for MSc in Educational Research) Core Skills in Educational Research (for MSc in Educational Research)

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

Description

The unit aims to provide foundation knowledge and skills for the design of research in the social sciences, including an appreciation of philosophical, practical and ethical issues. Students will apply these in the particular context of their own discipline.

Intended learning outcomes

Module specific skills:

  • Have an understanding of the differing philosophical bases of social science research.
  • Appreciate the relevance of social science theories to the design of research.
  • Understand the principles and processes of research design
  • Appreciate a range of ethical issues in the design and conduct of social research.

Discipline specific skills:

  • Demonstrate and apply a critical understanding of philosophical debates surrounding the methodologies used in the discipline.
  • Develop research questions and employ research methods appropriate to the discipline.
  • Develop research proposals which take account of relevant ethical issues.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the use and abuse of evidence for policy and practice as relevant to the discipline.

Personal and key skills:

  • Critical analysis.
  • Ability to reflect on personal/ethical issues raised by engagement in research.
  • Group work.

Presentation skills.

Teaching details

Lectures/presentations, seminars, group work, virtual learning environment

Assessment Details

Form of Assessment Size of the assessment e.g. duration/length ILOs assessed by this assessment Feedback method
Formative Group presentation 10-15 minutes Module specific
  • Understand the principles and processes of research design
  • Appreciate a range of ethical issues in the design and conduct of social research.
Personal and key skills
  • Group work
  • Presentation skills
Verbal
Formative Individual presentation (alternative to Group presentation) Note: To be used when student is unable to participate in group presentation. 10-15 minute presentation to unit convenor Module specific
  • Understand the principles and processes of research design
  • Appreciate a range of ethical issues in the design and conduct of social research.
Personal and key skills
  • Presentation skills
Verbal
Formative (alternative) Essay Note: To be used when student is unable to attend all unit sessions. 1,300-1,500 words Evaluation of a published study Module specific
  • Understand the principles and processes of research design
  • Appreciate a range of ethical issues in the design and conduct of social research.
Discipline specific
  • Demonstrate and apply a critical understanding of philosophical debates surrounding the methodologies used in the discipline.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the use and abuse of evidence for policy and practice as relevant to the discipline.
Written
Formative (alternative) Essay Note: To be used when student is unable to attend all unit sessions. 1,300-1,500 words Draft research design proposal Module specific
  • Understand the principles and processes of research design
  • Appreciate a range of ethical issues in the design and conduct of social research.
Discipline specific
  • Demonstrate and apply a critical understanding of philosophical debates surrounding the methodologies used in the discipline.
  • Develop research questions and employ research methods appropriate to the discipline.
  • Develop research proposals which take account of relevant ethical issues.
Written
Summative (100%) Essay(s) 3,500-4,000 words Module specific
  • Have an understanding of the differing philosophical bases of social science research.
  • Appreciate the relevance of social science theories to the design of research.
  • Understand the principles and processes of research design
  • Appreciate a range of ethical issues in the design and conduct of social research.
Discipline specific
  • Demonstrate and apply a critical understanding of philosophical debates surrounding the methodologies used in the discipline.
  • Develop research questions and employ research methods appropriate to the discipline.
  • Develop research proposals which take account of relevant ethical issues.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the use and abuse of evidence for policy and practice as relevant to the discipline.
Written

Reading and References

  • Babbie, E. (2013) The Practice of Social Research [13th edition] Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Benton, T. and Craib, I., (2011) Philosophy of Social Science: the philosophical foundations of social thought, [2nd edition]., Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Clough, P and Nutbrown, C (2007) A Students Guide to Methodology [2nd edition]. London: Sage.
  • Creswell, J.W. (2014) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, [4th edition]., Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Delanty. G and Strydom, P (Eds.) (2003) Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Gilbert, N. (ed.) (2008) Researching Social Life [3rd edition], London: Sage.
  • May, T. (2011) Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process [4th edition] Maidenhead: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill.

The Library has a number of interdisciplinary and applied journals relevant to this unit, including the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Evidence and Policy.

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