Research design, approaches and tools (support module)

Module A

This module, taken in Part 1, will assist you to critically evaluate the research of others and to facilitate your ability to design and carry out your own research for the program modules and for the thesis.

In order to do this you will benefit from a sound grounding in a range of research techniques in this module, helping you to collect different types of data and to understand the philosophical and epistemological principles underlying the techniques being used as well as the associated research processes.

You will be able to analyse, interpret and present qualitative and quantitative data in a variety of forms to a range of audiences. As a result you will have the tools for autonomous research and theoretical approaches which will equip you to conduct and publish from your own research projects.

The module is organised in five main sections:

  1. exploring and experimenting with qualitative methods
  2. quantitative methods and analysis
  3. mixing methods
  4. doing literature reviews and documentary analysis
  5. communicating research findings: writing up and writing with data

Because this is a support module the assignments are assessed on a pass/fail basis and are designed to allow creativity, risk-taking and experimentation. You are not expected to be writing at doctoral level for these assignments.

There are three short assignments. The first involves trying out, on a very small scale, a method of acquiring qualitative data. The second is similar but this time involving quantitative data. The third assignment involves helping you to plan your major research project for the thesis and the feedback you get assists in making sure that your project is practicable and at the right standard.

The module leader for module A is Dr Kirsty Finn who has many years’ experience in this field.

Participant comment: “I enjoyed all of the modules. I think the staff were friendly approachable and supportive.. I leave Module A with an interest in learning more about the subject matter because [the tutor] is an intelligent researcher and teacher.” “I loved Mod A …. very practical and full of useful knowledge. And very much what we need at this point in the programme since we are starting to think about [moving to Part 2].”