module specification

ED7123 - Research Methods in Education (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Research Methods in Education
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 200
27 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
164 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Research Proposal
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Evening

Module summary

The module aims to:
• enable students to understand what is meant social and educational research and its function in creating and interpreting new knowledge;
• encourage students to engage with the philosophical bases of educational research;
• help students understand the difference between the two main traditions of social research – the positivist and interpretivist paradigms;
• enable students to develop familiarity with a range of methods used in educational research like case study, action research etc.;
• introduce students to some key instruments of data collection like interviews, observations etc.;
• sensitise students to ethical issues relevant to educational research;
• enable students to write a qualitative educational research proposal which will form a basis of their MA dissertations.


The module will discuss the positivist origins of social research, the post-positivist tradition and the so called ‘linguistic turn’ in social sciences. Students will be introduced to the qualitative paradigm of research – its key features and types of research situations in which it might be appropriately employed. During the course of the module, students will learn about various methods of educational research, for example, action research, life history, case study and ethnography. They will be introduced to a range of data collection strategies such as interviews, focus groups, observations etc. 
Throughout the module, students will be encouraged to develop personal reflexivity and think about their own role in the research process, including how their personal and professional histories might influence the data that they collect and the claims that they might make.
They will be introduced to ethical issues in educational research and the implications for their own proposed studies.
Key terminology in quantitative educational research will be introduced in order to enable students to engage with and make sense of studies carried out using numerical data.
The module as a whole will aim to develop students’ skills of designing a coherent, epistemologically tenable, and practically feasible qualitative research project incorporating briefing and feedback sessions involving a seminar in which students present and discuss aspects of their essay for in-class peer and tutor review; and a personal tutorial to give feedback on their assignment.

Learning Outcoems LO1 - LO8

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Lectures and seminars delivered, once a week, in three hours blocks in the evenings. These contact sessions will be accompanied by some opportunities to extend understanding and analysis of key ideas and issues in the virtual learning space for the module.
This module is envisioned as also being deliverable using a blended learning approach.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, the students will be able to :
1. understand the process of educational research and the role it can play in creating knowledge and furthering understanding of educational issues;
2. demonstrate understanding of the philosophical bases of social research;
3. demonstrate a good understanding of the differences between the quantitative and qualitative paradigms of social research;
4. demonstrate a secure understanding of qualitative educational research and the implications of this for their own proposed investigations;
5. show understanding of different methods of educational research and make an appropriate choice in the context of their own study;
6. demonstrate familiarity with a range of instruments of data collection and make informed and well-justified choices in the context of their own research;
7. show a good insight into ethical issues related to educational research and the implications of these for their own studies;
8. be able to write a qualitative educational research proposal for their own small scale investigations.

Assessment strategy

Formative Assessment:
Student Presentations: During week 10, students will make a 5 to 7 minutes presentation based on their research proposal. The presentation will be followed by peer and tutor feedback. 
Summative Assessment:
100% by coursework: 4500 word research proposal outlining plans  for a small-scale empirical investigation that will form the basis of their dissertation; to be submitted during week 15


Core Texts

Atkins, L and Wallace, S (2012) Qualitative Research in Education. London Sage

Flick, U (2014) An Introduction to Qualitative Research . London: Sage

Lichtman, M (2013) Qualitative Research in Education. London, Sage (recommended)

Punch, K (2009) Introduction to Research Methods in Education. London: Sage

Other texts:

Bryman, A (2012) ‘Research strategy: quantitative and qualitative research’. In Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.35-38

Burr, V (2003) What is Social Constructionism? (Chapter 1) In Social Constructionism.  Routledge, pp.1-27

Cohen, L., Manion, L., and Morrison, K (2011) Research Methods in Education. 7th edition. Oxon: Routledge (Chapter 5)
See also additional resources:

Goldacre, B (2013) Building Evidence into Education

Hammersley, M (2013) The Myth of Research-Based Policy and Practice. The Open University/Sage
Available from Sage Website. See Preview-Chapter 1

Hammersley, M. (2007) Methodological Paradigms in Educational Research. London: TLRP. Online at
(Accessed 14 September 2017)

Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (2007) ‘What is ethnography’ (pp1-14), in Ethnography: Principles in Practice (Third Edition), London,

Lichtman (2013) Qualitative Research in Education. London, Sage
Read Chapter 1 ‘An Introduction and Overview of the Field’.
Available from Sage Website- Preview

Fletcher-Campbell, F and Brill, F (2008) Fifty years on: contrasts and connections in Educational Research, Educational Research, 50:1, 1-8

Goodson, I. and Sikes, P. (2001) ‘Studying Teachers’ Life Histories and Professional Practice’. Chapter 4. In Life History Research in Educational Settings, Buckingham, Open University Press  (pp 57-74)

Kvale, S and Brinkmann, S. (2009) ‘Interviews’ Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing.  Second Edition. Sage, London

O’Reilly, K. (2009) ‘Case Study’. In Key Concepts in Ethnography, London: Sage.

O’Reilly, K (2009) ‘Interpretivism’. In Key Concepts in Ethnography. London: Sage, pp.118-124

British Educational Research Journal
Educational Action Research
Educational Research Quarterly
Educational Research Review
Issues in Educational Research
Journal of Educational Research