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Unit information: Doing Social Research in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Doing Social Research
Unit code SOCI10005
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. O'Connell Davidson
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will consider the role of research in sociology by examining different traditions and different kinds of evidence that can be used in sociological research. It will introduce students to the methodology and methods applied in the design, administration and completion of research projects in order to equip them with the skills to critically interpret data (qualitative and quantitative) and to evaluate research. Students will examine the research process from the initial formulation of a research question, through identifying appropriate methods, to the dissemination of results. The unit will also introduce students to current sociological research from a range of sub-disciplines which adopt a variety of methods.


  • to explore the relevance of social research for the discipline of sociology
  • to explain the principles underlying the design, process and analysis of sociological research
  • to discuss the relationship between research question, research methods and research settings
  • to alert students to the role of political and ethical issues in research
  • to familiarise students with a body of current sociological research across a range of substantive areas
  • to encourage a critical approach to studying sociological research

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • understand the relevance of social research to the discipline of sociology
  • demonstrate an understanding of the principles underlying the design, process and analysis of sociological research
  • show understanding of the major ethical and political issues in sociological research and how they can be addressed
  • identify appropriate research methods for particular research questions and settings
  • show familiarity with a body of current sociological research
  • critically analyse a range of sociological research

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Summative assessment:

1. Presentation (15%)

2. 2000 word essay (85%)

Both assessments address the Intended Learning Outcomes

Reading and References

  • Devine, F., Heath, S. (1999) Sociological Research Methods in Context. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Gilbert, N. (ed.) (2001) Researching Social Life (2nd edition). London: Sage.
  • May, T. (2001) Social Research. Issues, Methods and Process (3rd Edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Robson, C. (2002) Real World Research (2nd Edition). Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Ruane, J.M. (2005) Essentials of Research Methods. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Seale C.F. (ed.) (2004) (2nd edition) Researching Society and Culture. London: Sage.