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Unit information: Informing and Evaluating Policy - Research Methods and Analysis in 2020/21

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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 Dr. Yiming Wang
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

The unit will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including online lectures, study groups and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

A written assignment of 4,000 words requiring students to demonstrate a critical understanding of research design, methods selection, data analysis and interpretation pertaining to academic research on public policy (100% and linked to ILO 1-4).

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