Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SOCI59415: Research Design and Process

Department: Sociology

SOCI59415: Research Design and Process

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21
Tied to


  • None.


  • Perspectives in Social Research (SOCI59515)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide training in research design and an understanding of the research process in preparation for the MA dissertation/Phd research and careers in social research.


  • Introduction: Planning and designing research and the timeline of a research project.
  • Formulating research questions and their relationship with research design.
  • Reviewing the literature critically and its relationship to your own research.
  • Operationalising concepts: moving from theory to research.
  • Finding and accessing data and/or engaging research participants – practicalities and ethical issues.
  • Quantitative designs, sampling, questionnaire designs, experimental methods, secondary data analysis.
  • Qualitative designs, focusing on small scale qualitative research.
  • Case studies,
  • Mixed methods.
  • Reviewing and evaluating research proposals.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will:
  • Have an understanding of how to formulate and design a research project;
  • Understand the ethical, political and organisational issues involved in social research;
  • Understand the processes and stages involved in planning a research project.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • During periods of online teaching, for asynchronous lectures in particular, planned lecture hours may include activities that would normally have taken place within the lecture itself had it been taught face-to-face in a lecture room, and/or those necessary to adapt the teaching and learning materials effectively to online learning.
      • Through lectures, seminars, and course assessment.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

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

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Research proposal 3,000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Students will have the option of submitting a short plan (up to 300 words) by the last lecture in order to receive feedback from the module convenor.

      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