Postgraduate Module Descriptor

SOCM019: Research Methods in the Social Sciences

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction: Overview of methodological concerns in the social sciences; questions of research design, role of theory and evidence; values and ethics in social science research.
  • Theory and evidence: lecture and seminar discussion. The relationship between social theory and social research; uses of theory in quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Subject specific seminar and workshop sessions on methodological strategies and debates:  examining links between different disciplines and methodologies (e.g. anthropology and ethnography).
  • Seminar and workshop sessions on research design: define and formulate research problems and questions; rationale and selection of appropriate research methods, in particular quantitative and qualitative methods; introduction to research management strategies; understanding different forms of sampling, sampling error and potential biases in the interpretation of research finding; understanding and applying concepts of generalisability, validity, reliability and replicability and different perspectives on how these may be defined.
  • Seminar and workshop sessions on skills relevant to research in social science and interdisciplinary subjects, including library and bibliographic, data sharing requirements and implications for research design and practice introduction to computing skills, and communicating research.
  • Seminar and workshop on ethics: introduction to ethical issues in social science research; ESRC's Research Ethics Framework; NHS research ethics procedures.

The assignments in this module will allow you to focus on a topic and research related to your specific sub-field and dissertation topic relevant to your postgraduate study

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity 2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent study56Reading, thinking and preparing for seminars
Guided Independent study12Web-based learning
Guided Independent study60Essay research, preparation and completion

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).