Design of Social research - SO833

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 6)
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7 20 (10) DR T Haux







This course introduces students to the logic and methods of social research. The course aims to familiarize students to central topics in research design, the methodological choices necessary to address in designing social research and the ethics of social research. The module introduces students to both positivist and critical/interpretive approaches and the debates behind their selection for conducting research. Students will be versed in the scientific approaches to social research, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The module aims to provide students a robust understanding of social research methods and the decisions needed to write up a research proposal.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

22 hours in total
11 hours of lectures
11 hours of seminars
178 hours private study



Method of assessment

Your understanding of the subject matter will be formally assessed on the basis of 100% coursework, which is in three parts:

1. A qualitative mini-proposal, 1,000 words (20%)
2. A quantitative mini-proposal, 1,000 words (20%)
2. A full research proposal, 3,500 words (60%)

Indicative reading

Bryman, A. 2012. Social Research Methods, 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Babbie, E. 2013. The Practice of Social Research.13th edition. UK: Wadsworth. Cengage learning.
Diamond, I & Jefferies, J (2001). Beginning statistics : an introduction for social scientists. London: SAGE.
Ragin, C. C. 1987. The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. This details the logic of using the comparative method.
Abbott, Andrew. (2003). Methods of Discovery. New York: Norton.
Habermas, J. (1972) Knowledge and Human Interests, London: Heinemann.
King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane and Sidney Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Develop original ideas on complex topics into focused research questions that relate to an identified academic literature, aligned to an appropriate research design;
2. Understand comprehensively the theoretical and methodological basis for social research, different epistemological models used in the social sciences, and rationales for combining different methods;
3. Be able to critically reflect on the ethical issues raised by social research, and to autonomously develop research designs that are both ethical in a broader, critical sense and which (more narrowly) meet the requirements
of research ethics governance;
4 Autonomously plan, develop and write a sophisticated research proposal that is of a standard to attract funds from leading social science funding agencies;
5 Critically engage with the methodological choices made in published research studies based on a systematic understanding of appropriate research techniques.

The intended generic learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Communicate a research question and design to academic and general audiences;
2. Manage their time, prioritise workloads and manage stress as well taking responsibility for their learning and professional development;
3. Access and evaluate ICT and library based resources appropriate for postgraduate study; make critical judgments about their merits and use the available evidence to construct a developed argument to be presented orally
or in writing;
4. Solve problems that are common in social research ;
5. Understand career opportunities in their field and be able to plan for their future ;
6. Understand and appropriately respond to feedback.

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