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Unit information: Understanding Educational Research in 2021/22

Unit name Understanding Educational Research
Unit code EDUCD0011
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Orchard
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The unit proceeds by examining the justifications for different approaches to educational and social research, and examples of recently published research which have influenced theory, policy, planning or practice in education. These examples are critically interrogated in ways that reveal their paradigmatic foundations, and their conceptual and methodological strengths and weaknesses. The examples are discussed in respect of their worthwhileness, applicability and ethical characteristics using perspectives and methods drawn from the philosophy of the social sciences.


The unit provides an overview of different approaches to educational research through theoretical and methodological reflections and the critical examination of contemporary research studies. It examines the challenges involved in understanding the current diversity of research strategies, and aims to enhance understanding of the way research design and methods influence the interpretation of data and the application of findings.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this unit participants will be able to:

  • Consider educational research in terms of paradigmatic frameworks and the major philosophical and epistemological challenges faced by social science;
  • Review and categorise significant forms of current educational research
  • Understand and critically examine issues such as objectivity, subjectivity, validity, relatibility and trustworthiness of evidence in educational research;
  • Investigate the influence of research designs, methods and researcher values on findings in educational research
  • Consider the relevance, role and potential of educational research regarding policy and practice.

Teaching Information

Participants will be expected to be active and participatory in this unit. They will need to read and prepare both during and before the course. There will be lectures, case-studies, workshops and seminars led by the tutor, but each participant will also make a presentation, critique or defence of a designated research report which they will study during the unit. Participants will also contribute to categorisation, critique and defence of other research, and engage in group discussions.

Assessment Information

A 4,000 word assignment.Each participant will critically evaluate selected research based articles, representing different paradigms, which report empirically-based research in any field of education. In making selection, they must ensure that evidence is available on the researcher’s aims, theoretical framework or assumptions, and on issues such as the research design, sample, data-gathering and form of analysis. They may use a study which has provided a case for this taught unit. Each analysis will be directly related to the learning outcomes.


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. EDUCD0011).

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.