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Unit information: Research Methods in Social Work in 2015/16

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Unit name Research Methods in Social Work
Unit code SPOLM0033
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Dugdale
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit aims to acquaint students with the principles and ethics of social work research and a critical understanding of the application of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including mixed methods. Students will also develop their skills and critical consumers of the research literature and be able to undertake a systematic search and review of research literature

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

i) Identify and analyse critically the quality and use of research in social work and policy.

ii) Identify commonly arising errors in research,

iii) Search the literature and critically appraise and synthesise primary and secondary research.

iv) Demonstrate a critical understanding of research methods, and key concepts and practical and ethical issues in different research designs.

v) Pose answerable research questions and design an empirical study using the methods most suited to answering them

Teaching details

14 x 2 hour lectures and whole class-based workshop sessions

An individual consultation on research proposal.

Assessment Details

A research proposal(4000 words)

Reading and References

Becker, S, Bryman, A and Ferguson, H (2012) Understanding research for social policy and social work. Themes, methods and approaches. Bristol: Policy Press (2nd Edn).

McLaughlin, H. (2012) Understanding Social Work Research 2nd Edition. London, Sage.

Robson C (2011), Real World Research, Oxford, Blackwell, 3rd edn.

Shaw, I et al. (Eds,) (2010) The SAGE Handbook of Social Work Research: London: Sage.

Smith, R (2009) Doing Social Work Research, Maidenhead: Open University Press.