Skip to main content


SOC2070 : Researching Social Life II

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Bethan Harries
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module is about ‘research design’ – or how to do a research project. 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 first part of the module provides an intensive learning experience, utilising a series of workshops that enable students to design and develop a small group research proposal. At the same time, students will be expressing and evaluating preferences for studying particular topics in more depth, with close support and guidance from the Module Leader.

In the second part of the module, students are allocated to a supervision group depending on their expressed preferences for dissertation topics. Supported by group and individual supervision with an academic supervisor (allocated on the basis of topic preference), each student will formulate a feasible and intellectually-challenging individual dissertation proposal (which must address practical and empirical issues).

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 work in small teams, initially on a small scale project which simulates the first stages of a dissertation (but on a group basis) and culminates in a group presentation. Each student writes up the group project as an individual research report which is summatively assessed. Later workshops cover topic elaboration, ethics, and additional social research methods.
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, but this also provides formative feedback in preparation for work on the Dissertation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:004:00Revision sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading162:0062:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:003 individual tutorials x65 students
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Supported by the lectures, the group project workshops focus on applying sociological methods in research project design, to ensure that the generic research methods learning outcomes are met. These generic skills are practised and applied in the development of the individual proposal, in which some additional topic specific teaching takes place, to ensure that students meet their individual learning outcome to develop a realistic specific research proposal.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M502000 words Research Report
Research proposal2M502000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report2MOral and written feedback after presentation, but prior to completing written report.
Research proposal2MTutorial supervision prior to completing written proposal.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The research report assesses the competence of students successfully to complete work in a group, to reflect upon this, and to write accurately about the reasons why they developed their research in the way chosen.

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