Introduction to Social Science Research

Modular value: 20 credits
Duration: Term 1
Teaching: Tues (every week) 10 am -12 noon (full-time), Sat (weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8) 10 am – 4 pm (part-time)

Convenor: Fiona Carmichael

This module aims to provide a general introduction to studying social research. It focuses on the ways in which researchers make decisions about research questions, designs and methods and the various assumptions that underpin those decisions.

The course emphasises key features of social research including different approaches to reviewing literature, constructing and presenting an argument, understanding samples, populations and generalisations, and critically appraising existing research. It continues with a consideration of generic issues for research such as the main principles of ethics for applied empirical research, the role of theory in research, and the philosophical bases that underpin our understanding of, and assumptions about, the social world.

On completion of the module, students are expected to be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different approaches to reviewing literature
  • identify and critique the key elements in an argument
  • understand samples, populations and generalisations in social research
  • be aware of the philosophical bases for understanding the social world
  • have familiarity with concerns about the ethics of research
  • write a critical appraisal of a research paper drawing on issues discussed in the module


The module is delivered twice – for full-time and part-time students/doctoral researchers. Generally you will follow the delivery as per your registration. If you wish to register for the alternative delivery session please apply directly to the Programme Director Professor Carole Torgerson. Note: due to timetabling constraints the sessions on the part-time delivery are not always in the same sequence as the sessions on the full-time delivery. Therefore it is important, wherever possible, to attend all the sessions in one or other mode of delivery (full- or part-time).

Module team

  • Harriet Clarke, School of Social Policy (Doctoral Lead)
  • Professor David Mullins, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
  • Nick Peim, School of Education
  • Peter Preston, School of Govt and Society (Doctoral Lead)


Write an individual assignment of 4,000 words critically appraising one recent published research paper on a topic relevant to your own area of research, summarising and evaluating its research question(s), design, methodology, methods of data collection and analysis, findings, using the philosophical principles that underpin these features of research. Your analysis and critique must draw on the principles and debates presented in the module.