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Introduction to Educational Enquiry

Module titleIntroduction to Educational Enquiry
Module codeEFPM013Z1
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Karen Walshe (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This is the final module of the MA Education online programme. It is a core module and therefore must be completed by all students.  Prior to undertaking this module you must have completed the first two core modules (Understanding Education and Understanding Learning) and two 30 credit modules of your choice from the selection of optional modules available. 

This 60 credit module will introduce you to educational research and will support you in designing and carrying out a small-scale research study in the field of education. This module is often referred to as the dissertation module because the main output is a dissertation reporting on your research study

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to develop your understanding of educational research and a range of methods of educational enquiry. 

Specifically the module will enable you to:

  • engage with a variety of perspectives concerning the nature of educational research
  • develop a critical understanding of a range of educational methodologies and paradigms
  • design an appropriate enquiry and select suitable methods for the enquiry and justify these in theoretical terms;
  • discuss implications of your study for educational theory/policy/practice/research
  • conduct a rigorous enquiry into a relevant and approved area of study within a particular field of education;
  • use research methods appropriately as relevant to your area of study and research design

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. critically engage with ideas concerning the nature of educational research.
  • 2. demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of research methods used in educational research.
  • 3. identify an area of enquiry related to your own educational interest/professional context.
  • 4. design and conduct a small scale enquiry selecting an appropriate theoretical framework and relevant research methods.
  • 5. critically interpret evidence and discuss its relevance in depth to existing theory and its implications for educational policy, practice and/or research as appropriate.
  • 6. synthesise and communicate the outcomes of research clearly and with criticality to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in the chosen area of study with an associated mastery of relevant academic literature and discourse.
  • 8. demonstrate awareness of and capacity discuss and manage the ethical implications of your proposed study.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. synthesise and organise ideas to present a critical argument.
  • 10. identify appropriate research questions and know how to design a research study to address these.
  • 11. undertake both directed and independent study to recognise, justify and analyse key ideas in the literature and relate these to research, theory, policy and practice.
  • 12. exercise initiative and autonomous responsibility for the direction, management and completion of the research enquiry.
  • 13. demonstrate the independent learning capability required for continuing professional development by making relevant connections between theory, personal research and, where appropriate, professional practice.

Syllabus plan

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 to educational research and the nature of educational enquiry
  • Overview of key research paradigms
  • Research methodologies (including systematic review; secondary data analysis; empirical research (e.g. action research); and textual analysis)
  • Reviewing literature: critical analysis and synthesis
  • Research ethics
  • Designing a small scale study
  • Data collection methods e.g. questionnaires, interviews, observations
  • Data analysis methods e.g. qualitative and quantitative
  • How to present, discuss and communicate research findings

A large part of academic input on this module is in the form of guidance from a supervisor who will support you as you undertake your own educational enquiry.  

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities4812 x 4 hours per week of online seminars
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1212 x 1 hour supervision tutorials via email/skype
Guided Independent study340Preparatory work for taught seminars and completion of directed study tasks integral to the taught seminars (including reading; research tasks; collaborative tasks)
Guided Independent Study40Completion of formative assignment tasks
Guided Independent study160Completion of summative assignment tasks


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written Essay: Literature Review (with Research Question)1,500 words1; 3; 7; 9-10Written
Written Essay: Research proposal (with completed ethics form)1,000 words1-4; 8-10Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written essay, research report (dissertation)10012,000 words1-13Written and grade


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written essay, research report, dissertationEssay, research report, dissertation (12,000 words)1-1312 weeks


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bell, J. (2010) Doing your research project: a guide to first time researchers in education and social science. 5th edn. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.
  • Brooks, R. et al (2016) Ethics and education research. Los Angeles : SAGE
  • Creswell, J. (2014) Educational research]: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Fourth edition. Harlow, Essex: Pearson.
  • Selwyn, N. et al (2017) The BERA/SAGE Handbook of educational research. London: Sage Publications.
  • Scott, D., and Morrison, M.  (2007) Key ideas in educational research. London: Continuum.
  • Smeyers, P. (2014) Understanding education and educational research. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press.
  • Suter, W. N. (2012) Introduction to educational research: A critical thinking approach. Los Angeles: SAGE
  • Thomas, G.T. (2009) How to do your research project. London: Sage.
  • Wellington, J. (2015) Educational research: contemporary issues and practical approaches. 2nd edition. London: Bloomsbury
  • Wyse, D. et  al (2017) The BERA/SAGE handbook of educational research: 2 volume set. London : SAGE Publications Ltd.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Educational research; education research; educational enquiry; research methods; dissertation; 

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Completion of four MA Education modules to the value of 120 credits. This must include completion of core modules 1 and 2. 

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date