Module Catalogue 2021/22

SOC2070 : Researching Social Life II

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Simon Woods
  • Lecturer: Dr Bethan Harries
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Code Title
SOC2069Researching Social Life I
Co Requisite Comment

Students wishing to take this module must have studied at least 1 Sociology module at stage 1 in 20/21


This module is about ‘research design’ – or how to do a research project and prepares students for their dissertations. It enables students to understand how sociologists take a topic and develop it into a research question in a form that can be answered using empirical evidence. This involves exploring the range of practical methods of collecting and analyzing social data which researchers deploy, through examples of research studies and each student’s personal choice of a dissertation research question for Stage Three. This process also enhances and consolidates the students’ various social research skills previously gained in SOC2069 by focusing on a small number of specific research questions.

The aims of the module are to:
•       Develop understanding of the key methodological debates in sociological research;
•       Engage students in the critical and analytical study of research strategies;
•       Develop understanding of the ethical, political and practical challenges that may be encountered in social research, and how these are mediated by the contexts in which research takes place;
•       Enable the critical evaluation of research findings.
•       Develop transferable skills, including skills and knowledge of research methods that will be relevant to many spheres beyond academia

Outline Of Syllabus

The lectures will assist students in the choice of their dissertation topics, and introduce students to issues in dissertation projects, in particular identifying research questions, literature review, research stages, project management and research proposals.

In the workshops, students will learn to assess what constitutes good and poor research and explore the ethical, political and practical challenges that may be encountered in doing social research. They will develop a critical appreciation of research and the knowledge claims being made in the literature.

In the supervision tutorials, students meet with the member of staff who will be their dissertation supervisor in Stage Three. In one group, and two individual, tutorials students take forward their original ideas into a research design, finalising their ‘research questions’ , deciding on which methods are most appropriate and how to deploy them, and drawing up a preliminary work schedule. This is summatively assessed by the Dissertation Proposal supervisor, but this also provides formative feedback in preparation for work on the Dissertation.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate a firm grounding in the essentials of sociological research and the application of methods to project design and proposal development.
They will have acquired an appreciation of how general sociological topics of interest can be turned into researchable projects. Each student will also have an appropriately detailed awareness of the what makes for a good research project. On successful completion of the module, students will have gained an understanding of the requirements of creating a dissertation, in preparation for Stage Three.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will develop skills around evaluating and applying appropriate methods and techniques of research for specific topics.

By the end of this course students will be able to:
•       identify and discuss the ethical, moral and political dimensions of sociological research;
•       demonstrate an understanding of the principles of qualitative research design;
•       critically analyse research from a methodological standpoint;
•       demonstrate analytical and oral skills through attendance and active participation in lectures and seminars.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials91:009:00non synchronous pre-recorded
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion187:0087:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PiP Q&A sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00PiP (to support assessment)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00PiP researcher talks and skills sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:003 individual tutorials x65 students PiP
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will provide the key underpinnings of the module. These will be supported by workshops and small group teaching. Workshops will be skills focused and provide students exposure to current research ongoing in the subject area, with a focus on learning from hearing about these experiences. There will also be two workshops to support students with their assessments. Finally small group teaching will allow students to interact with each other and be supported by teaching staff to explore the core aspects of research design.
In the latter part of the semester students will be assigned a proposal supervisor to support them develop their research ideas and put together a dissertation proposal.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study2M502000 words Critical Methodological Appraisal
Research proposal2M502000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Case study2MCritical Methodological Appraisal 1. Workshop supervision with comments and feedback
Research proposal2MTutorial supervision prior to completing written proposal.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The critical methodological appraisal assesses the competence of students successfully to critically analyse research from a methodological standpoint and identify and discuss the ethical, moral and political dimensions of sociological research.

The research proposal enables students to demonstrate their individual knowledge and skills in formulating and presenting reasoned methodological arguments and individual literature reviewing in a specific substantive topic.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.