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Module A: Research Methods & Philosophy of Social Sciences

This is our principal means of supporting participants in their acquisition of research skills. We see it as essential that participants in the programme gain a practical understanding of a representative range of social science research techniques. However, module A is not just 'research methods training'. Through its consideration of the uses and social context of research, of publication and of the communicability of ideas, it helps participants problematise the practices of academic research and address meta-theoretical issues.

This module has three main aims:

  • to assist students in critically evaluating the research of others and designing and carrying out their own research, both for this and other modules and for your dissertation.
  • to provide you with a sound grounding in a range of research techniques which can be used to collect qualitative and quantitative data, and to allow you to understand the philosophical/ epistemological principles underlying these techniques and the associated research process.
  • to enable you to analyse, theoretically interpret, and present qualitative and quantitative data in a variety of forms (both written and oral) and to a range of audiences.

The programme uses the Economic and Social Research Council criteria/guidelines (revised in 1996) for research students in Education, as a basis for defining what students will be expected to know and what skills they will have acquired by the end of the four years. The ESRC is the main funder of full time social science research students in the UK and is also the major funding body for UK social science research. Work for this module will be closely linked to the work students are doing for other modules in Part One and will help them to look towards eventual preparation for the dissertation itself.

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