Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module EDUC44030: Design and Methods in Education Research

Department: Education

EDUC44030: Design and Methods in Education Research

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module introduces students to core education research concepts, processes and design. It develops a repertoire of key research skills including the evaluation of research techniques across different research contexts.


  • This module has two foci. The first concerns theoretical and philosophical aspects of the research process. 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
  • Developing an understanding of quality in relation to education research, including ethics, validity, reliability, and generalisability or applicability.
  • The second focus is on application. It will:
  • Provide spaces for students to reflect critically on research design using published articles
  • Explore key aspects of research in practice
  • Develop an understanding of the process in education research from design, to application, analysis and evaluation
  • The empirical applications discussed during this part of the module are considered with respect to implications for students' planning of a research design for their own dissertations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module successful students will have:
  • Knowledge and understanding of different approaches to conducting research and their strengths and weaknesses
  • Knowledge and understanding of core education research concepts and frameworks
  • Knowledge and understanding of the design, application and evaluation processes needed to conduct a piece of research
  • Knowledge and understanding of education research as a holistic process, which includes formulating research questions, selecting and developing a suitable research design and methods, and evaluating the research process and its limitations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • At the end of the module successful students will be able to:
  • Articulate and employ core research terminology
  • Explain different research approaches and their characteristics
  • Deal with common problems arising in applied research
  • Demonstrate the ability to design, use and evaluate a study
  • Assess educational research studies with regard to ethics, design, validity, reliability and generalisability and applicability
  • Identify articles and studies which demonstrate key aspects such as causation and quality in education research
Key Skills:
  • Successful students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse research literature in education
  • Critically engage with educational research
  • Learn independently
  • Engage in critical discussions with tutors and their peers
  • Develop study and research skills, information retrieval, and the capacity to plan and manage learning, and to reflect on own learning
  • Use written and spoken communication skills

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

  • A mixture of lectures and seminars will be employed. Students work in mixed groups consisting of participants from different 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. The format of lectures and in particular seminar exercises will enable students to critically discuss assessment issues.
  • On-line materials will also support self study activity.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 1 hour 9
Seminars 3 1 hour 3
Workshops 6 2 hours 12
Self-guided learning 276
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Assignment: research protocol 5000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Understanding of key elements and ideas will be checked informally throughout the course. Students will have an opportunity produce a draft 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