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Unit information: Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences (SoE) in 2021/22

Unit name Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences (SoE)
Unit code EDUCM0005
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Walker
Open unit status Not open



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 of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

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.
  • Team work
  • Presentation skills

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

Formative assessment will include short peer-to-peer presentations of emerging research designs. Summative assessment: 4,000 word assignment in which students will present a research design of a hypothetical project that engages the methodological literature - principles and processes of research design - and ontological/epistemological perspectives of research.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EDUCM0005).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.