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Unit information: Social Research Methods in 2020/21

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 Social Research Methods
Unit code SOAD20004
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Dodds
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Unit description
Social Research Methods builds on the knowledge and skills gained on the first-year Critical Skills unit. The unit is a pre-requisite for single honours students who are required to submit a dissertation in their final year, which must have a strong methodological framework. Therefore, the unit has been designed with a view to covering a wide variety of possible ways students can approach and research a particular topic of inquiry for their dissertation. Joint honours students who do not have to submit a dissertation will find that the unit helps them to understand the process of social research from start to finish, shining light on several issues that might be encountered in work within and beyond university life. A range of theoretical perspectives that form the undercurrent of social research will be covered, to illustrate how empirical investigations of social life are always theoretically informed.

· To ensure students understand what defines and characterises social research
· To deepen students’ understanding of the meaning and relevance of quantitative and qualitative approaches to social research
· To extend students’ knowledge of the range of methods used in gathering research data for analysis
· To ensure students have the skills to evaluate the strengths and limitations of different methods and analysis.
· To reflect on some of the important constraints – especially ethical constraints – which apply when research is underway, or when data is analysed, interpreted and used to make an argument

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. Ability to devise and plan a small-scale research project related to their discipline
  2. Understanding of reflexivity and a capacity to recognise social research as process for investigating social life.
  3. Knowledge and understanding of the value of different types of social research evidence.
  4. Ability to present and analyse different forms of data.

Teaching Information

This unit will draw on a blended learning approach. Students will engage with taught content that is self-paced (including, for example, narrated slides and other teaching and research materials). Each week students will be tasked to complete activities (a mix of individual work and collaborative work). Live sessions will also be scheduled where groups of students will present and discuss ideas and clarify learning with the tutor. The materials used for these sessions will be separately shared for those unable to attend. A weekly Office Hour run by the Unit Convenor will be complemented by periodic monitoring and responses to online discussion space for student reflections, summaries and Q&A.

Assessment Information

Annotated Bibliography (750 words) (25%) -assesses ILOs 3 and 4

Research proposal (2250 words) (75%) - assesses ILOs 1 and 2

Reading and References

  • Blaxter L, Hughes C, Tight M (2010) How to Research. 4th Ed. Open University Press: Maidenhead.
  • Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Foster, L; Diamond, I and Jeffries, J (2012) Beginning Statistics. An Introduction for Social Scientists. 2nd ed. London: Sage
  • Greenhalgh, T. (1997). How to read a paper: Statistics for the nonstatistician. II: "Significant" relations and their pitfalls. British Medical Journal, 315, 7105, 422-425.
  • O'Leary Z (2005) Researching Real World Problems: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. Sage: London.
  • Silverman D (2007) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice. Basingstoke: Sage.