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SOC2070 : Researching Social Life II

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Miranda Iossifidis
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module is about ‘research design’ – or how to do a research project and prepares students for their dissertations. It allows students to consider what kind of sociologist they want to be. 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, workshops and independent exercises, 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 critical reflection skills in relation to practical social research methods experience.
•       Develop transferable skills, including skills and knowledge of research methods that will be relevant to many spheres beyond academia.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module aims to help students make the transition from reading about sociological research to designing and doing their own research. The module provides students with the tools necessary to design their own research. 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 navigate methodological quandaries, assess what constitutes “good” research in different contexts 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. They will also develop critical reflection of their own research practice through workshops and independent study.

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.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:00PiP
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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops52:0010:00PiP skills sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:003 Online synchronous non-timetabled
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 as well as undertaking some of their own experiments in the workshop and independent study. 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 and current methodological debates through key texts.

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.

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

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

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 to successfully analyse research designs from a methodological standpoint and identify and discuss the ethical, practical and political dimensions of sociological research. It also draws on students’ own methodological experience from in-class workshops or from SOC2069 to enable students’ critical reflection on their role as a researcher.

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.

Reading Lists