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SOC2069 : Researching Social Life I

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Chris Moreh
  • 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 collecting empirical information so that they can develop their sociological ideas. Its core theme is the importance of evidence: the way we collect and analyse information has a huge effect on our research findings. Data analysis is a practical activity, and therefore the module is distinctive in involving a series of hands-on computer labs and seminars, as well as being focused on practical assignments. It is in these applied 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 core qualitative and quantitative research methods and concepts such as ethnography, sampling, questionnaire design, interviewing, thematic analysis, and statistical analysis techniques using a statistical software package (such as R, BlueSky, JASP, SPSS, Stata etc.). Practical data analysis tasks will be carried out on high-quality secondary datasets, also familiarising students with the sources of secondary sociological data.
These skills will be presented in the context of the research process, as exemplified by selected sociological studies. The computer labs and seminars will be organised around worksheets and exercises giving students hands-on experience of analysing large data sets, sampling, designing questionnaires, interviewing, coding data, observation, and textual analysis.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Pre-recorded lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion183:0083:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading116:0066:00Reading
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading44:0016:00Online data management and software workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical102:0020:00PiP computer labs/seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery51:005:00PiP Q&A sessions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

- The lectures provide the main framework and content with respect to the foundations and building blocks of sociological research and how these relate to social knowledge.
- The computer labs and seminars allow students to practise the discipline’s main empirical and methodological approaches, in order to achieve the learning outcomes through discussion, practical exercises and both formative and summative assessment.
- The drop-in Q&A sessions allow students to clarify the lecture contents and the assessment
- Online data management and software workshops allow student to enhance their knowledge and skills by completing online tutorials provided freely by external parties
- Assigned textbook and research application readings (journal articles) help students to gain a deeper understanding of the methods covered and provide real-life examples of their application in recent published research

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M50Qualitative data analysis, 1,500 words
Report1M50Quantitative data analysis, 1,500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MOral commentary on practice exercises
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The importance of sociological skills and practice is recognised by assessing students’ capacities to put their newly acquired skills into action by performing set tasks. The topics for all the assessments are introduced and demonstrated in lectures, then practiced in computer labs and seminars, before students do an individual piece of assessment inter alia to discover how far they have achieved the learning outcomes and the relevant items in the graduate skills framework. Although the assessment focuses on skills outcomes, these skills cannot be deployed on the tasks without students also having achieved the knowledge outcomes.

Reading Lists