Skip to main content


HSS8021 : Theories and Methods for Research

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Laura Leonardo
  • Lecturer: Dr Mwenza Blell, Dr Dariusz Gafijczuk, Dr Tina Sikka, Dr Emily Clough, Dr Ana Lopes, Dr Jen Tarr, Dr Lauren Ackerman, Mrs Rosalind Beaumont
  • Owning School: School X
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 15.0
European Credit Transfer System


-To develop and advance researchers’ understanding of the theoretical frameworks underpinning PG research

-To develop awareness and understanding of the variety of epistemological perspectives which underpin methodological approaches to critical inquiry

-To investigate the links between theory and methodologies in research practice

-To introduce contemporary qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research approaches across a range of disciplines

-To examine the intellectual, theoretical and methodological development of the research paradigm

-To learn to work within the ethical principles, implications and dilemmas of research

-To develop understanding of the nature, methods and application of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research

-To develop skills in methods of data collection

-To examine a range of strategies for organising and analysing data

-To consider different approaches to report-writing

-To encourage researchers to cultivate a critical and reflexive approach to research.

Outline Of Syllabus

Researchers will be offered a choice within a wide array of sessions exploring the contemporary debates on epistemology, ontology, and qualitative and quantitative methodology in research. PGR researchers will be able to select relevant sessions for their research from Faculty level postgraduate taught modules and research seminars. Via lectures, seminars, workshops and blended materials and activities, they will reflect on their theoretical stance, explore links between their epistemological framework and methodological choices while actively engaging with issues such as the ethical and logistical implications of conducting research. The module is topped and tailed by introductory and summative sessions and there will be a series of possible pathways through the module according to the student’s needs. Available sessions will be divided into three streams: theory and epistemology; qualitative methods; and quantitative methods.

A typical pathway will consist of around 24 sessions across both semesters. This would normally be distributed as follows:

For arts and humanities pathways:
-four sessions from theory and epistemology
- four sessions from qualitative methods
-additional 16 sessions to be identified in consultation with supervisors

For social science pathways:
-four sessions from theory and epistemology
-four sessions from quantitative methods
-four sessions of qualitative methods
-additional 12 sessions to be identified in consultation with supervisors. For predominantly quantitative researchers most of these would normally be from the quantitative pathway; for predominantly qualitative researchers most often would be from the qualitative pathway but may also include theory and epistemology sessions.

NINE-DTP funded students should see the document mapping the ESRC Training Guidelines onto HSS8021 to ensure they have the relevant training.

Content sessions will include

Knowledge production, the relationship between theory and methods, and the researcher as an instrument of enquiry; interviewing, ethnography, textual (discourse and thematic) analysis, historical and archival approaches; digital methods; descriptive and inferential statistics, regression analysis and linear models.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture162:0032:00A mixture of PiP, Zoom based and asynchronous offerings
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading641:0064:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops121:0012:00A mixture of PiP, Zoom based and asynchronous offerings
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1921:00192:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is partially blended and comprises of both flipped classroom-style options, present-in person lectures and directed online reading & activities. Researchers are introduced to the epistemological, methodological and ethical principles of research in a formal way and all lectures and online reading and activities are informed by contributors' current research interests and refer to current and contemporary research work to illustrate and focus the issues raised.

A number of colleagues contribute to this module, covering a vast range of subject areas. This richness of perspective is reflected in the delivery methods that range from online reading and activities, subsequently explored through in-person structured interactions, to more traditional lecture and Q&A formats.

These approaches will provide opportunities for researchers to become familiar with the subject matter and to identify issues for discussion.

In all modes of delivery, a variety of content is accessible online for researchers ahead of /immediately after any in-person structured interactions: this is important, given the diversity of the student body in terms of disciplinary background and familiarity with terms & concepts. This appeals to those both new to or familiar with topics and provides researchers with an inclusive, personalised learning experience to suit their needs and interests.

The skill-based workshops encourage researchers to critically apply these insights to the contingencies of research practice, and to consider a variety of strategies for overcoming analytical and organisational challenges.

Allocated periods for independent and guided reading will allow researchers to develop and refine their academic understanding of research practice and encourage them to embed their research skills in classic and contemporary epistemological and methodological literature.

This overall teaching & learning approach combines the advantage of accessible modes of knowledge delivery, which allow researchers to learn at their own pace, with opportunities for interdisciplinary and interpersonal communication.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2A100Portfolio of 2 assessments: 1. Oral Examination (10 minute presentation, 30%) 2. Written Assessment (70% - 3000 words or oral equivalent).
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Portfolio of assessments, as follows:

Assessment 1 is the same for all students, while we offer a wide array of assessment types for Assessment 2. The students will be able to choose which one to engage with based on their personal and research preferences.

Assessment 1: 30%

Students will produce and record a 7-10 minute presentation to be uploaded to Canvas, critiquing a published academic study in their field. The paper should use at least one theory or method covered in this module and the presentation should focus on the relationship between the research problem and the method(s) chosen. What is included and what is overlooked with this approach? They will be asked to view and give feedback to one other student from their HSS2023 group. They will also receive feedback from the teaching team. Students will be informed of the rubric and marking criteria for this activity via Canvas so that they can take up their peer assessment duties in an informed way.

Assessment 2: 70%


Students will produce a 3000 word or equivalent report in one of the following formats:
1) Data analysis of an existing dataset, using methods covered in this module;
2) Comparison of two research epistemologies OR research methods in relation to their own research;
3) A 20-30 minute recorded presentation comparing two research epistemologies OR research methods as they relate to their own research. This presentation may use images, sound, video, or other non-text based methods.

In all cases, the focus will be on the student's ability to critically engage with theories and methods covered in the module.

Reading Lists