Deciding Which Modules to Take

The Economic & Social Research Council (the main funder of UK social science research students) recommends that all social science research students become familiar with both quantitative and qualitative approaches to research and with the philosophy of the social sciences as well as with more specialised subject-specific requirements. 

Even though you may not plan to use both quantitative and qualitative data in your research, you are likely to find that future employers will expect you to have at least a basic understanding of both approaches and forms of data. Your own reading will often require you to be able to understand and interpret both quantitative and qualitative data.

The Arts & Humanities Research Council (the main funder of UK arts and humanities research students) recommends that students in the arts and humanities should develop generic skills such as written and oral presentation skills (including giving research papers), designing and managing a project, ICT skills, bibliographic skills and contextualising practice-based research, identifying and using web-based resources, record-keeping and record management, and personal and career development.

The Faculty recommends that all first year full time and all first/second year part-time students who have not either already done a specialised research methods Masters degree or had considerable relevant experience as a research assistant on a funded project, should aim to take the following generic modules (Please note that those modules will be offered online in 2020/21 due to the ongoing situation):

  • Introduction to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (FASS507) - also available as online distance learning. Please note that whether FASS507 will be offered on campus in Summer 2021 or replaced by FASS507d will be made later (subject to circumstances).
  • Qualitative Research Methods (FASS510).
  • Quantitative Research Methods Introduction (FASS508) or Quantitative Research Methods 1 (FASS508d) - online distance learning. Please note that only FASS508d will be offered in 2020/21 due to the ongoing situation.
  • Quantitative Research Methods 2 (FASS512) - also available as online distance learning. Please note that only FASS512d will be offered in 2020/21 due to the ongoing situation.
  • The three thesis writing modules, for students at different stages of their degree (all of which are also available as online distance learning):
    • Thesis Writing (First Year Students only) (FASS516).
    • Advanced Thesis Writing (Second Year Students only): Refocusing the Thesis (FASS619).
    • Advanced Thesis Writing (Final Year Students only): Towards Completion (FASS620)

Full details of the FASS modules, including timing and location, are available via the Modules list.

How do I go about assessing my training needs?

If you are funded by an Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) studentship or an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentship, your training requirements will have been discussed at the time of your application. You and your supervisor or Masters Course Director should remind yourselves of these when you actually register. For other students, you should discuss your training needs with your supervisor(s), bearing in mind your own previous postgraduate education and relevant research work experience, the research you are planning to undertake and the comments made in the previous section concerning the importance of gaining a range of skills and knowledge about different kinds of research.

The ESRC’s Postgraduate Training Guidelines for postgraduate training should also be consulted.

For information about the AHRC’s policy of training for postgraduate researchers, consult their research training framework.

The Vitae Research Development Framework and its associated resources provide very helpful and informative guidance in respect of assessing and identifying training needs.

The RTP Director, Basil Germond, will also be happy to provide you with advice on your choice of modules and workshops.

Ethics and research: ensuring that your study complies with Lancaster's standards for ethical research

Whatever your research topic - actual or proposed - you should give early consideration to ensuring that your research practice is ethical. No field of arts & social science research is exempt from ethical concerns, no matter how ethically unproblematic it may at first appear. To find out more about ethics you can:

  • Have a look at the web-based resource Ethics guidance and ethics review process
  • Discuss the ethical dimensions of your research with your supervisor(s).
  • Consider taking FASS522: The Ethics Approval Process at Lancaster University: How to Write an Application to the University's Ethics Committee, FASS625: Ethics in Arts and Social Research – a self-learning resource or FASS647: Risky Research: Ethics, Reflexivity, and Risk. NB you must have taken FASS522 or FASS625 before you take FASS647.