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Research Design - SPY00159M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Daniel Horsfall
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module has been developed in line with the ESRC's Postgraduate Training and Development guidelines. The purpose of the module is to introduce students to the core principles of research design. The module considers the connection between research questions or hypotheses and the tools required to address them, and provides students with practical experience of applying some of those tools.

Module learning outcomes

In line with the ESRC Postgraduate Training and Development guidelines by the end of the module students will be able to:
· define and formulate research problems and questions, and, where appropriate, formulate hypotheses that can be tested;
· understand the rationale for using particular qualitative or quantitative research methods;
· understand the relationship between empirical research and theory generation and testing (theory-evidence links);
· understand different forms of sampling, sampling error, and case selection, and potential implications for the interpretation of research findings;
· understand and apply the concepts of generalisability, validity, reliability, and replicability (recognising that there are different perspectives on how these may be defined); and
· understand the integrated or complementary nature of the relationship between methods in mixed methods research designs.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay: Research Design Brief
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay: Research Design Brief
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

There are a huge number of textbooks in the area of social research most of which are of a high quality. There is, however, no single text which covers all aspects. If you want to buy a general book though the following are certainly worth purchasing:

Becker, S., Bryman, A. and Ferguson, H. (2012) Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work (Policy Press);

Gilbert, N. (ed). (2008) Researching Social Life (Sage);

Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods (Oxford).

If you want to buy a single text on qualitative methods amongst the best is

D. Silverman (2010) Doing Qualitative Research (Sage) and also his (2011) edited collection Qualitative Research: Issues of Theory Method and Practice (Sage).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring 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 by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.