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.
Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
This module aims to give you:
- An understanding of the methods of statistical analysis, using topics and datasets from the empirical social science literature
- A familiarity with STATA statistical software and data management
The course uses a range of datasets from across political science, focusing on topics such as social capital, voter turnout, cabinet duration, demonstration activity and class voting.
Philosophy of Social Science Research
The module 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.
Researching the Social: Contemporary Debates in Sociology
The module will require you to develop a critical and reflexive understanding of key substantive and theoretical debates in the field of contemporary sociology.
Throughout the module, you will be encouraged to explore the relationship between theoretical development and substantive explanation. You will also be required to develop a reflexive and critical understanding of how theoretical assumptions impinge both on social theory and sociological explanation.
The substantive debates to be covered may vary from year to year in order to accommodate new developments in the field, while ensuring that a wide range of sociological theories are represented. However the following list provides a sample of possible candidates for inclusion:
- Social inequality
- Social change
- Modernity and postmodernity
- Identity and belonging
You will complete a 60-credit 15,000-word dissertation. You will be assigned an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.