Documentary Research in Education, History and the Social Science

Module fact file

Masters Level
Summer Term
10 credits
Contact Hours:
10:00-16:00 (Over two days)
MA Social Research

Contact details

Module lead
Kevin Myers

Module description

This module introduces students to the theory and practice of documentary research. It emphasises the wide variety of documentary data available; from state archives, public legislation, census data, newspapers, community/voluntary records, commercial advertising and novels. Strategies for locating and utilising this range of data are then examined, discussed and applied with an emphasis on issues of interpretation.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • Identify a variety of documentary sources appropriate to social science research (generally) and proposed research project (specifically);
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of documentary data for use in social research;
  • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of the interpretative models available to social science researchers;
  • Analyse and interpret a range of documentary data;
  • Assess the applicability of interpretative models to different kinds of data; 
  • Participate effectively in a range of learning activities.


2500-3000 word annotated source analysis.  The essay should be written and structured to allow the student to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes for this module. In other words it should comprise:   the identification of documentary sources potentially relevant to your research project or dissertation;  an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this documentary data for your; research project (show how it may or may not be relevant for your research);  an advanced knowledge and understanding of the interpretative models available to social science researchers.

Related degrees:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.