17 September 2018
3 years part-time
Also available 1 year-time
The course operates within a multi-disciplinary framework to provide rigorous practical and applied training in social research methods. You will undertake a critical study of research methods and data analysis appropriate to social research.
The course is designed to meet the postgraduate training requirements of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This course may also meet your training needs if you are undertaking doctoral research related to social science, appraising research, undertaking workplace research or commissioning research in a wide range of professions including health, education and criminal justice.
This is a distance learning course where University attendance is not required. It will provide you with the opportunity to enhance your skills and gain a degree from anywhere in the world. You will be taught through a variety of online teaching methods including video, interactive webinars, online demonstrations and tutorials. You will receive teaching and support from experienced and active researchers who are acknowledged experts in their fields.
You will be introduced to the design of social research and examine the approaches used to collect social research data. You will have the opportunity to explore issues that affect the quality of research and the three design strategies: experiment, survey and case study. You will also be encouraged to study key techniques including questionnaire design, interviewing, ethnography and the use of documents. The module will be assessed through coursework, where you will assemble a critique of the research methods used in a provided journal article.
This module introduces you to the basic methods used to analyse qualitative and quantitative data. You will be encouraged to examine the range of qualitative data and how you can prepare it for analysis. You will have the opportunity to study two key qualitative analytic techniques: thematic analysis and discourse analysis. In the case of quantitative data analysis you will be introduced to the basic use of statistics, both descriptive and inferential, using SPSS, a computer package. You will be assessed through two pieces of coursework, which will involve writing up the analysis of a given data set, one qualitative and one quantitative.
You will be introduced to the nature of evaluation research as an approach that uses standard research methods techniques but in a specific context. This may enable you to examine the various models of, and approaches to evaluation. You will also have the opportunity to become familiar with the requirements of systematic reviews of the literature. The module will be assessed through one piece of coursework: either a proposal for an evaluation or a systematic review in an area relevant to your personal and/or professional concerns. An outline of this will be delivered as a presentation, on which you will be given feedback.
Plus 15 credits from the option modules listed below.
45-60 credits from the option modules listed below.
15 credits from the option modules listed below if not studied the previous year.
Through this module you will be expected to undertake the design, data collection, data analysis and write up for a piece of empirical research on a topic of your own choice, subject to approval by your supervisor. Your supervisor will guide you through the stages of the project and have regular contact with you. You will be assessed through one piece of coursework in the form of a dissertation, this will report, to a professional standard, the work you have undertaken and the results you have obtained.
Optional modules, 15 credits each:
This module integrates the philosophical issues that underpin research design with the practical issues involved. You will be expected to examine some of the major philosophical perspectives providing a foundation for health and social research. You will also be introduced to a range of practical issues such as funding, budgeting and ethics that must be considered alongside research design when making research proposals. You will be assessed by one piece of coursework in which you will write a research proposal combining a discussion of relevant philosophical issues with the practical elements of the research design.
This module covers a range of techniques and methods used in the analysis of qualitative data. You will have the opportunity to examine thematic approaches such as grounded theory method along with discourse analysis, narrative approaches and the use of diagrams and tables. Assessment will involve producing one piece of coursework in the form of a report on the analysis of a provided qualitative data set.
This module covers the range of ways in which researchers gather data for qualitative research. You will be encouraged to examine some of the common methods used such as face-to-face interviews and focus groups, and explore the key literature on the topic. You will also be expected to engage in field research where you will practice your own research interview and focus group. You will be assessed through one piece of coursework that consists of a critical assessment and account of your data capture with an appendix of transcripts from your interview and focus group.
This module is appropriate for those wishing to undertake a research project using a questionnaire, as it provides the opportunity for you to learn how to design and implement a questionnaire, based on the principles of questionnaire construction and delivery. You may examine examples of questionnaires and experience the process of research as a designer, administrator and analyser of your own questionnaire. You will be assessed through one piece of coursework that includes a questionnaire design, its rationale and a discussion of its validity and reliability.
You will be introduced to a range of statistical techniques used for the analysis of quantitative data in social, health and behavioural sciences. You will be encouraged to learn about the treatment of regression in settings where several independent variables may be assessed or where the outcome is binary. You may also study treatments applicable to the analysis of multivariate data sets. The emphasis will be placed on the practical application of such techniques through the use of the statistical software SPSS. You will be assessed through one piece of coursework, where you undertake a detailed analysis of a large data set, using a range of statistical techniques.
Teaching and Assessment
This course provides the opportunity for you to learn through a combination of videos and other learning resources, webinars, online demonstrations and tutorials. Videos and other learning resources offer a guide to the key literature, concepts, theories and research studies. Webinars, running on an interactive basis will facilitate the use of case studies and problem-solving exercises, as well as offering a mixed and more varied means of communication between you, other students and the teaching staff. Online demonstrations and tutorials demonstrate key analytic activities and software use (especially NVivo and SPSS). You will be offered individualised support in these activities.
A typical learning session may involve reading some set text, watching some video footage and possibly undertaking an online test. This may be followed by an online webinar session where you and other students will have the opportunity to discuss what you have read and watched, ask questions of the tutor, and practice and receive feedback on some of the techniques you have learnt.
You will not be required to undertake any examinations, as you will be continually assessed throughout the course. Most of your assessment will be practically based, where you will practice the data collection and data analysis techniques you have learnt and present your results in a research report format to professional standards. In a few cases you may be required to produce critical essays and undertake presentations.
Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.
Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results. Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.
Entry requirements for this course are normally one of the following:
For applicants whose first language or language of instruction is not English you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum of IELTS 6.5 overall with no element lower than 6.0, will be considered acceptable, or equivalent. You will require very good English language skills, especially on modules involving qualitative analysis.
If you have alternative qualifications or experience please contact us for advice before applying.
You will require access to a computer, which is capable of playing video and audio files via the internet, as well as word processing and e-mail. In order to run some of the analytic software, your computer must have a minimum of Windows XP or a similar up-to-date operating system so you can run Windows XP. You will also require constant internet access and a headphone/microphone combination.
Research plays an important role in informing our teaching and learning activities. Through research our staff remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which means you develop knowledge and skills that are current and highly relevant to the workplace
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We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.
We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.
We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.
Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.
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