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Unit information: Informing and Evaluating Policy - Research Methods and Analysis in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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 Informing and Evaluating Policy - Research Methods and Analysis
Unit code SPOLM1061
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. West
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to the use of quantitative and qualitative techniques and data analysis in a public policy. It demonstrates the application and analysis of quantitative and qualitative techniques to primary and secondary sources. It considers - questionnaire design; sampling techniques, statistical inference and experimental design; interviewing, focus groups, case studies and analysis of documents. The strengths and weakness of different quantitative and qualitative techniques are explored along with issues relating to the use of comparative data. All these topics will be explored via the use of public policy case studies.

The unit aims to:

  • familiarise students with the principles of good research design, methods selection and appropriate analysis.
  • Explore key quantitative and qualitative methods that inform policy research.
  • Familiarise students with techniques of analysis for both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Explore the complementarities of quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • evaluate research design in different areas of policy research
  • understand the principles and practicalities of appropriate methods
  • understand the principles and practicalities of data analysis
  • be able to interpret and evaluate quantitative data in different forms

Teaching Information

Interactive seminars and practical whole class and small group exercises.

Assessment Information

A written assignment of 4,000 words requiring the students to demonstrate an appreciation of epistemological debates pertaining to social research methodologies and an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses as applied to social policy research.

Reading and References

  • Gomm, R (2009) Social Research Methodology: A Critical Introduction, Basingstoke. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ritchie, J et al (eds) (2014) Qualitative Research Practice, 2nd edition London: Sage
  • Flick, Uwe (2015) An Introduction to Qualitative Research 5th Edition, London:Sage
  • Babbie, E (2016) The Practice of Social Research (14th ed). Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
  • Creswell, J. (2014) Research design: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches London: Sage