Philosophy of Social Science Research
The course has three parts:
- Science and the philosophical critique of science
- Epistemological debates in the social sciences - including, but not limited to, positivism and its critics, interpretative approaches including phenomenology, critical realism, social construction and the politics of knowledge and the sociology of science
- The funding environment - interdisciplinarity and the impact agenda
Research Design, Practice and Ethics
This module focuses on the analytical, practical and ethical organisation of social science research.
The analytical organisation is often referred to as 'research design' and will constitute the bulk of the content of this module. Research design consists of choices necessary to transform a research question into actual research. These choices pertain to strategies and modes of case selection, observation methods, data collection and modes of analysis.
Every research question can be elaborated in different ways (ie with different designs), none of which will be ideal in all respects as the various choices pertain to trade-offs. Each design has its own implications in terms of costs and in terms of potential threats to the validity of its eventual results. These implications will be elaborated in the module, as well as ways how to handle the resulting choice problems in actual practice.
The practical organisation of research is closely related to design choices, but focuses particularly on logistical and timing issues. Ethical organisation of the research involves awareness of ethical issues, of ethical consent procedures and of their implications for research design and practical organisation.
Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
The objective of this module is to further your familiarity with the practice of quantitative data analysis in the social sciences at an intermediate level. The lecture component of the module will explore a variety of the most commonly used statistical methods; in the laboratory component, you will learn to apply these techniques to the analysis of social science data.
Through assignments, you will have the opportunity to develop and test your own hypotheses and explanations on major research data sets. The module should provide a sound grasp of the possibilities, methods, and dangers inherent in quantitative social science research.
Foundations in Qualitative Methods
This module provides a conceptual overview of the various approaches and debates associated with theory and practice of qualitative research. It examines a range of contrasting perspectives on the design of research including problem identification, selection and sampling, and analysis.
Research ethics, and the role of the researcher in generating qualitative data, are key themes which run through the module. Specific consideration is given to the ways in which qualitative and quantitative approaches may be seen as complementary, and the use of mixed methods.
The module will also cover the ways in which qualitative research can be evaluated. The module will also facilitate dialogue between members of different social science disciplines, to give an understanding of how some issues or practices may be viewed differently from different disciplinary perspectives.
You will complete a 60-credit 15,000-word dissertation. You will be assigned an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.
Investigating Social Policy (Social Policy pathway)
The module will examine the 'flow' of policy making from inception to implementation. The first part of the module will explore various theories of policy making at different levels and will take the form of a seminar with previous set readings. The latter part of the module will be related to recent or current research undertaken by central or local government in the UK, or Europe, though examples may also come from other countries.
Attempts will be made, where possible, to include evidence from recent or current research undertaken in the school. You will be provided with a guide to paper and web-based materials giving details about the policy, the academic and policy analysis and commentary anticipating and following the policy, and research data, both qualitative and quantitative, generated in the field through attempts to evaluate the policy and its context.
Contemporary Issues and Debates in Social Work (Social Work pathway)
This module examines the nature of contemporary debates and issues in social work by focusing on the nature of knowledge in social work and some of the main social theories which conceptualise social work and its relationship to the state, society and the individual.
You will be able to understand how different theoretical approaches provide different ways of thinking about the nature of social work in advanced modern societies and their implications for social work practice.
The debates covered will include:
- how to protect children and vulnerable adults
- personalisation and adult care
- the role of research in social work and evidence-based practice
- structure/agency, power and inequalities
- risk and the bureaucratisation of social work
You will choose 20 credits of optional modules from the school or advanced research methods.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.