Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module FOUD01Z8: Concepts, Methods and Theories in Social Science

Department: Foundation Year (Durham)

FOUD01Z8: Concepts, Methods and Theories in Social Science

Type Open Level 0 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Programme Aims:
  • Foundation students have 3 or 4 core components to their programme, depending on route. The Concepts, Methods and Theories (CMT) modules are designed to introduce students to concepts, methods and theories within the student’s chosen discipline, and provide a lens through which students engage with knowledge and knowledge creation in their chosen discipline. Meanwhile the Scholarship in Higher Education (SHE) module provides the toolkit for their engagement and communication of knowledge; whereas the Advanced Scholarship in Higher Education module provides an iterative experience of bringing toolkit and lens together to provide students with the opportunity to actively engage in the process of knowledge generation and communication by completing a research project within the student’s chosen discipline. All students apart from Arts & Humanities also have a maths component.
  • This module contributes to the overall aims of the Foundation Programme, which are aligned to FHEQ level four descriptors. By the end of the programme, students will have demonstrated
  • knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with their area(s) of study, and an ability to evaluate and interpret these within the context of that area of study
  • an ability to present, evaluate and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, in order to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of their subject(s) of study.
  • evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to their area(s) of study and/or work
  • communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably, and with structured and coherent arguments
  • undertake further training and develop new skills within a structured and managed environment.
  • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility.
  • Module Aims:
  • to introduce a range of concepts, methods, and theories relevant to a range of social science degree progression routes. 
  • to introduce primary and secondary source materials alongside relevant critical work, which locates these sources in their discipline contexts, as well as within the wider body of academic scholarship. 
  • to develop critical thinking by describing, analysing, and evaluating relevant primary and secondary source materials. 
  • to develop academic communication of concepts, methods, and theories. 
  • to encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative studentship. 
  • to prepare students for the teaching and learning environment at Durham University. 


  • The module provides students with a baseline understanding of Social Sciences and how they intersect, in the context of:  
  • a range of concepts, methods, and theories from across the social sciences relating to core themes. 
  • a range of qualitative and quantitative methods typically used in social sciences, including literature-based and empirical research, together with critical consideration of how these are applied.  

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have demonstrated they have knowledge of:
  • 1. a range of foundational subject concepts and theories relevant to social sciences. 
  • 2. key research methods used in the study of the social sciences. 
  • 3. a range of relevant vocabulary used in the social sciences. 
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have demonstrated that they can:
  • 1. use and effectively apply a range of foundational social sciences subject concepts and theories  
  • 2. use knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences to consider and evaluate their reliability, validity, and practicality in the context(s) in which they are, or may be, used. 
  • 3. use a range of relevant topic-related and social sciences vocabulary with accuracy and precision. 
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have demonstrated that they can:
  • 1. communicate effectively, using appropriate academic styles, making use of language that conveys meaning and creates understanding. 
  • 2. demonstrate the use of appropriate sources of evidence. 
  • 3. cite sources of evidence and arguments used, ensuring the precise application of in-text citation, and referencing. 
  • 4. demonstrate emergent critical thinking.  

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

  • Lectures are used to provide guided access to concepts, methods, and theories. A lecture is a presentation or talk on a particular topic.
  • The term 'lecture' covers everything from the traditional model, where a single member of the institution's staff or an affiliate introduces ideas or delivers facts to a group of students, to approaches that might be much more interactive, involve a variety of contributors, make use of a range of media and technologies, and take place virtually as well as in person. Lectures are assumed, in general, to involve larger groups of students than do seminars and tutorials but size will vary depending upon the nature of what is being taught, the size of the overall student cohort, and practical concerns.
  • Seminars are used to provide more in-depth access to concepts, methods, and theories. Most teaching is carried out in groups ranging between 10 – 30 students to allow for an interactive teaching/learning style which will encompass some teacher-led presentations and discussions, and discussion and activities in groups, as well as individual tasks. These are supported by reference materials, such as videos, podcasts, journal articles and book chapters, blogs, newspaper articles and handouts posted on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). These seminars focus on developing Subject Specific Knowledge, Subject Specific Skills, and Key Skills. 
  • Students are also expected to undertake preparatory tasks and/or consolidation tasks for each session outside of class, i.e., in independent study time. Details are provided in advance of the session and/or at the end of the preceding session, as appropriate.
  • Summative Assessment: In this module, the assignment and essays allow students to demonstrate the range and sophistication of their engagement with the module’s reference/factual knowledge, conceptual, and procedural knowledge and to extract data from a range of sources and use this data to respond to tasks effectively. It also allows students to communicate this effectively through the medium of written texts commonly used in the Social Sciences (and thus that they are likely to experience in their subsequent years of study).  
  • The Assignment requires students to use a framework provided to summarise a source and prepare an essay plan. Relevant academic sources will be provided, and students will be required to respond using these sources. 
  • The Report assesses the subject specific knowledge and skills related to Concepts, Methods and Theories covered in Teaching Block 1 as well as students’ ongoing development of relevant key skills. This is a typical length for a Level 1 undergraduate written assignment in Social Sciences.  
  • The Essay assesses the application of the subject specific knowledge and skills related to Concepts, Methods and Theories covered in Teaching Block 2 as well as students’ ongoing development of relevant key skills and response to their individual feedback across the Programme. This is a typical length for a Level 1 undergraduate written assignment in Social Sciences.  

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 20 Weekly 2 hours per week 40
Seminar 20 Weekly 1-hour seminar per week 20
Preparation, Reading, Orientation Tasks 240
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 500 words 100% Yes
Component: Report Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Report 1500 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

There are 3 formative assessment opportunities for this module which are specifically linked to the summative assignments:    Formative Assessment 1 is comprised of written assignments to reflect the summative Assignment: Summative. Feedback will be provided to support the further development of skills needed for the Assignment: Summative.  Formative Assessment 2 is a referenced plan in response to the summative report. Verbal tutor feedback will be given in CMT seminar time.  Formative Assessment 3 is a student-led seminar which involves working with a group to select academic sources linked to CMT themes and prepare and lead a discussion of these sources. Feedback will be given to support learning and preparation for Essay: Summative.

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