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Researching Society

SO3240 Researching Society (10 ECTS credits)

Lecturer(s): Dr Niall Gilmartin and Dr Jan Skopek

Module Content/Outline:

This module provides students with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to pursue a wide range of social research. It serves both as a free-standing module and as preparation for students to conduct original research and complete a research dissertation in their Senior Sophister year.

Part I of the module builds on the broad introduction to social research in second year, which explored the range of techniques employed in qualitative methods, overviewed basic methods of qualitative analysis and began the process of developing written arguments. In particular the module will focus on designing and formulating a research project with corresponding sampling, data collection and analysis methods. This part of the module will also particularly focus on research proposal requirements.

Part II of the module continues on from the introduction to quantitative methods in second year, which covered survey design, sampling, data collection techniques and basic descriptive analysis methods. The various stages of designing a quantitative research project are examined with particular focus on data analysis. As generalisations from the sample to the population are of key importance in quantitative research, statistical inference is introduced and inferential statistics are applied. This is accompanied by instruction in using SPSS software to analyse numerical data.

Learning Objectives:

Students successfully completing this module will be able to:

    • Design a social research project;
    • Formulate appropriate research questions;
    • Select and justify the most appropriate research method to answer particular research questions;
    • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various research methods;
    • Distinguish and apply suitable types of analysis to varying research designs;
    • Apply appropriate ethical standards to research design;
    • Read and critically discuss published research.

    Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:

    Part I (Michaelmas Term): One lecture, one tutorial per student per week
    Part II (Hilary Term): One lecture, one computer lab per student per week

    Workload: Lectures: 22 hrs; Tutorials: 11 hrs; Labs: 11 hrs; Exams/ assignments: 60 hrs; Self-study: 146 hrs. Total: 250 hours.

    Recommended Texts/ Key Reading:

    • Babbie, E. et al. (2011) Adventures in Social Research, London: Sage.
    • Gilbert, N. (ed) (2008) Researching Social Life, London: Sage.
    • Marsh, C. and Elliott, J. (2008) Exploring Data, Cambridge: Polity Press.
    • Seale, C. (ed) (2004) Researching Society and Culture, London: Sage.
    • Sapsford, R. (2007) Survey Research, London: Sage


    Part I: Coursework (50%)
    Part II: Coursework (20%), Exam (30%)

    Penalties for late submission: Without an authorised extension, the mark given will be lowered by one grade

    Examination: 1 x 1.5 hour examination