Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module SOCI59515: Perspectives on Social Research

Department: Sociology

SOCI59515: Perspectives on Social Research

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • 1. To introduce students to the nature of social scientific research;
  • 2. To present the issues associated with establishing cause in the social sciences with reference to issues of generalizability and replicability;
  • 3. To present the problems of interpretation of meaning in the social sciences with reference to issues of generalizability.;
  • 4. To outline the essentials of the quantitative programme of inductive research in the social sciences
  • 5. To outline the essentials of the qualitative programme of research in the social sciences
  • 6. To introduce students to ethical issues in the conduct of social research, including issues of power and equality.


  • What is social science?
  • What is social research?
  • Exploring causation
  • What purpose does measurement serve in social science?
  • The nature and use of the social survey in social research
  • Interpreting an interpreted world
  • Ethnography as a research approach Analysing qualitative research
  • Combining quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • Ethics and reflexivity in research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module students will:
  • 1. understand the meaning of the terms epistemology, ontology, and methodology and the relevance of them to the practice of social research;
  • 2. understand the issues associated with the establishment of cause and meaning in social science;
  • 3. be familiar with the nature of the quantitative programme in social science;
  • 4. be familiar with the nature of the qualitative programme in social science;
  • 5. be aware of the implications of ethical issues for the practice of social research and be able to establish ethical guidelines for the conduct of their own research.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 10 weekly 1 10
      Tutorials 10 weekly 1 10
      Preparation & Reading 130
      Total 150

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay (which will take the form of a comparison of qualitative and quantitative approaches to the investigation of one from a list of appropriate topics.) 3,000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Contributions in seminars and one short essay of not more than 1,000 words - addressing issues of the establishment of knowledge claims.

      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