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Unit information: Conducting a Research Project using Secondary Data in 2021/22

Unit name Conducting a Research Project using Secondary Data
Unit code POLI20001
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Mircea Popa
Open unit status Not open

SOCI20069 `Principles of Quantitative Social Science' or GEOG25010 `Spatial Modelling 2'



School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit forms part of the shared interdisciplinary pathway for students taking any of the '... with quantitative research methods' degree programmes in childhood studies, geography, politics, social policy and sociology. It may be open to other students within those Schools. The purpose of the unit is to prepare students to undertake a third-year dissertation using secondary data. It will focus on sources of secondary data, how to make sense of them, how to form a viable research question grounded in an appropriate academic research literature, and ways to answer the question quantitatively. It will address issues of research design, including sample size and the issue of statistical power, and also consider some of the underlying philosophical tenets of quantitative approaches, their strengths and weaknesses, how they compare with qualitative approaches, and when to decide when a quantitative or qualitative approach might be better. Practical classes will show how secondary data can be accessed and analysed in meaningful ways.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completing this unit students will know:

how to form a viable research question that can be answered using secondary data;

where sources of secondary data may be obtained from;

how to analyse and present secondary data using methods of quantitative analysis;

why it is important to give consideration to potential sources of bias and uncertainty in the data; and

some of the statistical issues that arise from analysing large data sets.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

1,000 word essay (25%) 3,000 word essay (75%)

The assessments will evaluate all of the intended learning outcomes listed above.


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. POLI20001).

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.