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SOC2069 : Researching Social Life I

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adél Pásztor
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Sociology is based on systematic knowledge about the social world that we inhabit. ‘Researching Social Life I’ introduces the range of ways that sociologists do research by generating information so that they can develop their sociological ideas. Its core theme is the importance of evidence: the way we collect information has a huge effect on our research findings. Data collection is a practical activity, and therefore the module is distinctive in involving a series of hands-on workshops and practical assignments, as well as lectures. It is in these small group sessions that you will convert the principles explained in the lectures into skills, so that you too can carry out research. Although concerned to convey the systematic application of appropriate professional standards, the module also tries to communicate some of the excitement and fun of doing research.

The module makes four main contributions to the degree program:

1. It lays a foundation of knowledge and critical awareness about how research gets done, which helps to appreciate and make sense of the other sociological sources used in the rest of the degree’s modules.

2. It enables the best choice of research methods to be made for doing your research for the Final Year Dissertation in sociology.

3. More generally, the informed and critical thinking learned in the module can also be applied to analyse what really lies behind media news-stories, politicians’ speeches, lobby groups’ reports on social problems – and even gossip – that we all encounter as citizens.

4. Finally, because Research Social Life I delivers a substantial part of “what every sociology graduate can be expected to know”, having studied the subject, it offers the opportunity to acquire transferable skills for later employment in a range of professions. These include interviewing, analysing social behaviour, using computers to process quantitative information, where to locate data on public issues and how to apply them, and how to make sense of social surveys.

Outline Of Syllabus

The lectures will introduce the core research methods of ethnography, sampling, questionnaire
design, interviewing, textual analysis, coding, basic statistical analysis using SPSS, and secondary
analysis of large data-sets. These skills will be presented in the context of the research process, as
exemplified by selected sociological studies.
The Workshops will be organised around exercises giving students hands-on experience of analysing
large data sets, sampling, designing questionnaires, interviewing, coding data, observation, and
textual analysis.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists