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[SI0124] - Introduction to Social Science Research

Module Code: SI0124
Module Leader: Luke Sloan
Year: 1
Semester: Both
Number of Credits: 20

Teaching Method: Lectures and small group workshops
Assessment: Written examination 1.5 hours (50%) - Autumn Semester; Coursework (Essays) 3000 words (50%) - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Criminology; Education; Social Science; Sociology


Module Aims

This module aims to provide training in key study skills and elementary training in the use of information technology and library resources, and  to introduce students to research principles, methods and strategies in the social sciences and a variety of social science data.


Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Comprehension

  • Identify and describe a range of research strategies in social science research.
  • Describe and explain how different research methods are applied in practice using appropriate examples.
  • Organise and interpret examples of qualitative and quantitative data.

Skills (Application and Analysis)

  • Gather, retrieve and synthesise social science data with reference to appropriate methods of data collection.
  • Report, acknowledge and integrate the work of others from a selected range of sources with few errors.

Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)

  • Explain how a range of research approaches, methods and data are used in social science research.
  • Demonstrate how basic information technology skills are used in social science research to engage with published social science literature and present and interpret data.
  • Demonstrate understanding and a basic critical interpretation of range of published social science literature.

Transferable Skills

The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills: group work, basic IT and bibliographic database literacy.


Synopsis of Module Content

What is social research and why should we care?; Central themes and issues in social research; In praise of qualitative research; In praise of quantitative research; What makes ‘good’ social science research?; Introduction to the class research project; Choosing an appropriate research topic, design and strategy;
Formulating robust research questions and methods; Issues of sampling and ‘representativeness’; Reflecting on the collection of data; Analysing and reporting quantitative data; Analysing and reporting qualitative data; From findings to conclusions; Writing up the project report.


Opportunities for Formative Assessment

FORMATIVE assessment is an opportunity to undertake a review and assessment of your learning (knowledge, skills and understanding) and to get some feedback.  Unlike SUMMATIVE his does not count towards the final mark for the module.

In the mid-point of the Autumn semester you are required to submit a short 1500 word essay.  Time will be given in a seminar to prepare for this.  This is an opportunity for you to get some practice at essay writing before you submit your SUMMATIVE coursework assignment in January.

Towards the end of the second semester you will be required to undertake an on-line assessment which will check your recall of information from across the module and this will provide instant FORMATIVE assessment and feedback.  There will be an opportunity to discuss this in a seminar.


Arrangements for Feedback on Work

You will be provided with feedback on FORMATIVE assessments. You will each also receive individual written feedback on your SUMMATIVE coursework assignment, which is submitted in January.  A lecture in the Spring semester will be devoted to giving more general feedback, that is, to the whole group, on this assessment.

Following marking of the May/June examination scripts, generic feedback including an overall commentary of performance will be posted on Learning Central.


Indicative Reading

Bryman, A. (2004) 'Social Research Methods' Oxford, Oxford University Press (second edition)

Denscombe, M. (1998) ‘The Good Research Guide’ Buckingham, Open University Press

Devine, F.  and  Heath, S. (1999) ‘Sociological Research Methods in Context’ London, Macmillan

Gilbert, N. (2001) ‘Researching Social Life’  [Second Edition] London, Sage

Gorard, S. (2003) 'Quantitative Methods in Social Science Research’ London, Continuum

May, T. (1997) ‘Social Research’ Buckingham, Open University Press