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Unit information: Quantitative Research Methods in 2015/16

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Unit name Quantitative Research Methods
Unit code SPOLD1002
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Johnson
Open unit status Not open




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


An understanding of and ability to use quantitative research methods is an essential part of the training of policy researchers. This Unit will introduce and/or develop understanding of the principles of methods pertaining to data collection and analysis; sampling; use of existing large data-sets; parametric and non-parametric statistical tests and the rationale for choosing them; and multivariate modelling procedures. Opportunities for practical use of these methods (using SPSS) will be provided. There will be an emphasis on the use of statistical procedures to help make sense of data and not simply a reliance on statistical methods as a $ymagic box&) approach to data analysis.

Intended learning outcomes

• Module specific details • Develop a philosophical appreciation of the underpinnings or quantitative research methods. • A critical understanding of and the ability to apply to their own work, the appropriate uses, strengths and weaknesses of quantitative methods. • Ability to evaluate the research practice, data and interpretations of others. • Sensitivity to ethical, political and value concerns in quantitative research. • Appreciation of a reflexive approach to social science research. • Demonstrate basic skills in the use of quantitative research techniques. • Discipline specific skills • Develop an appreciation of the philosophical underpinning of quantitative approaches in relation to the discipline. • Understand how quantitative research can address specific challenges within a disciplinary context. • Demonstrate and apply a critical understanding of quantitative methods used in the discipline. • Understand how quantitative methods are used in the discipline and gain an overview of some current quantitative research examples within the discipline. • Develop an understanding of discipline specific ethical, political and value issues, related to quantitative research. • Personal and key skills. • Critical analysis. • Ability to reflect on personal/ethical issues raised in quantitative research. • Team work. • Presentation skills.

Teaching details

Lectures, demonstrations, discussions and class exercises. A number of sessions in this unit involve the development of IT-related skills and will be computer labbased.

These sessions will involve computer -based data analysis and exercises designed to provide practical experience and to develop competency in data handling and interpretation. Contributing lecturers include academic staff with particular expertise in their given subject area.

Assessment Details

There is no final examination scheduled for this unit. Participants will be expected to attend all sessions and to complete the two–part assessment detailed below:

Formative assessment (unmarked): contribution and participation in a group presentation on principles of quantitative research design during day 3 of the unit. Further details will be provided during the course.

Summative assessment (marked): Formal assessment will be by an assignment of 4,000 words (maximum). The assignment will be based on developing a research proposal for a quantitative project in a relevant area of social science.

Students will be required to demonstrate knowledge of quantitative research approaches as well as critically consider methodological issues and possible implications for their chosen area of social science. Further details will be provided during the course.

Reading and References

• Babbie, E (2007) The Practice of Social Research (11th ed). Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co. [Arts & Social Sciences H62 BAB] (Chapters 7 & 9)

• Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods [4th edition] Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Arts & Social Sciences H62 BRY] (Chapters 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, & 15)

• Field, A (2009) Discovering Statistics using SPSS [3rd edition], London: Sage. [Arts & Social Sciences BF39 FIE] (Chapters 1& 2)

Gilbert, N. (ed.) (2008) Researching Social Life [third edition], London: Sage. [Arts & Social Sciences HM48 RES](Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6 &16)