Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module EDUC44030: Research Methods in Education

Department: Education

EDUC44030: Research Methods in Education

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module will introduce students to core education research concepts and epistemologies. It will develop a repertoire of key research skills including the evaluation of research techniques and approaches for knowledge creation and application across different research contexts.


  • This module will contain two discrete elements. The first will be more theoretical introducing foundation knowledge for education research. It will focus on:
  • Recognising the different purposes of education research
  • Understanding key terms and vocabulary in education research
  • Developing a critical standpoint in relation to research in education
  • Exploring notions of causation across different social contexts
  • Investigating the concept of quality in relation to education research, including ethics, validity, reliability, reflexivity and generalisability or applicability.
  • The second part will have a focus on application. It will:
  • Provide spaces for students to reflect critically on research design and improvement using published articles within their subject pathway
  • Explore key aspects of research in practice
  • Develop understanding of process in education research from design, to application, analysis and evaluation
  • Provide a clear link through to the dissertation element of the programme.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module successful students will:
  • Have explored the philosophical basis of research and different approaches to conducting research and their strengths and weaknesses
  • Have knowledge and understanding of core education research concepts and frameworks
  • Have developed a repertoire of education research techniques and approaches that they can evaluate and apply to a range of education contexts and intents
  • Have critically reflected on the design, application and evaluation processes needed to develop a research protocol
  • Related core research ideas to their pathway or subject area
Subject-specific Skills:
  • At the end of the module successful students will be able to:
  • Articulate and employ core research terminology
  • Understand different research approaches and their characteristics
  • Problem solve around research design and application
  • Demonstrate the ability to design, use and evaluate a research protocol
  • Be able to identify articles and case studies which demonstrate key aspects such as causation and quality (in ethics, in design, and in validity, reliability, reflexivity and generalisability or applicability) in education research
  • Understand key concepts and issues in the critique of education research
Key Skills:
  • Successful students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse research literature in education
  • Evaluate and problem solve around method (philosophically and empirically)
  • Engage with educational research reflectively and strategically
  • Learn independently

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be taught in two parts. The first will be at the start of the taught masters programme and the second will follow one or two subject specialist modules.
  • A problem-based learning approach will be used alongside a mixture of lectures, practical classes and small group activities. Students will be grouped depending on session outcomes, sometimes in their pathways and sometimes in mixed groups across programmes. Problem-based learning will support student engagement with the key concepts within and beyond their subject area.
  • Lectures will give access to broad knowledge of key education research concepts and frameworks and help structure students’ own study and learning towards the learning objectives. Seminars will facilitate a more in-depth student engagement with themes and issues raised in the lectures. Tutorials will allow focused input around specific ideas. The format of lectures and in particular seminar exercises will enable students to critically discuss assessment issues.
  • On-line materials / tutorials will also support self study activity.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures (groups across masters programmes in education) 8 1 hr 8
Seminars (MA/MSc specific groups) 10 2 hrs 20
Tutorials (pathway specific groups or smaller) 6 1 hr 6
Self-guided learning 266
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Exam Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exam Inc. multiple choice & short answer questions 1 hour 40%
Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research protocol 3000 words 60%

Formative Assessment:

Students will receive feedback on compulsory problem-based learning tasks. Understanding of key elements and ideas will be checked informally throughout the course. Students will produce a preliminary outline of their research protocol and will receive feedback before submission.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University