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Independent Study Module - SPY00003H

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kelly Devenney
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25 to Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

  • To introduce you to independent research activity

  • To offer you the opportunity to select a topic of your own choice and analyse it in-depth

  • To familiarise you with literature search techniques and retrieval of published outputs relevant to your topic

  • To identify research gaps in the literature and develop relevant research questions

  • To identify appropriate methodological approaches and research method to answer your research question

  • To collect and retrieve appropriate primary and/or secondary evidence, including published outputs

  • To analyse and draw conclusions balancing the weight of evidence and in doing so, reflecting on strengths and weakness of your own approach

  • To identify appropriate conceptual, methodological and policy implications of the analysis

Module learning outcomes

1 Demonstrate advanced knowledge of theory and concepts for a field of social policy, criminal justice, social and political sciences and their application to a research topic/ question. etc

2 Identify appropriate research approaches and methods and their use in furthering knowledge of social policy, criminal justice, social and political sciences.

3. Formulate a research question and undertake a piece of independent research using primary and/or secondary data sources, with awareness of the social, ethical and political context of social policy research.

4. Demonstrate balance and judiciousness in the analysis of research data and selected literature.

5. Communicate research in a convincing and accessible way both in written and visual form.

6. Undertake independent study; project management; problem solving; time management skills; dealing with critical feedback; work to deadlines; preparing a longer piece of work.

Module content

This module will enable you to conduct an independent research project on a topic of your choice. You will be expected to identify appropriate theoretical and analytical frameworks for your analysis. You will be expected to reflect on strengths and weaknesses of your approach including methodological and ethical issues. For your methodology, you would be expected to pursue, at least, one of the following analytical designs:

  • Systematic literature synthesis and analysis (including search, retrieval and analysis of sources)

  • Primary evidence analysis (e.g. interviews, focus groups, observations, survey)

  • Secondary evidence analysis (e.g. documents, newspaper articles, official statistics, datasets)

You will be expected to present your findings in both written and verbal settings and reflect on their importance for policy, economy and society. You will receive core teaching over two semesters and have an allocated project supervisor to support your learning. You will be expected to develop your personal skills in project management, in preparing a longer piece of work and develop your own set of research skills and competencies. You will be given the opportunity to formatively assess your research progress and present your work in a conference-like setting.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Independent Study Module - 8,000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Independent Study Module - 8,000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be given in accordance with the University Policy on feedback in the Guide to Assessment as well as in line with the School policy.

Indicative reading

Bassot. B, (2022) Doing Qualitative Desk-Based Research A Practical Guide to Writing an Excellent Dissertation, Bristol: Policy Press.

Burnett, J. (2009) Doing your social science dissertation, London: SAGE.

Clark, T. Foster, L. and Bryman, A. (2019) How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grant, A. (2022) Doing Your Research Project with Documents A Step-By-Step Guide to Take You from Start to Finish, Bristol: Policy Press.

Reardon, D. (2006) Doing your Undergraduate Project, London: Sage.

Thomas G. (2017) How To Do Your Research Project, Third Edition, London: Sage.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.