module specification

ED7123 - Research Methods in Education (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Research Methods in Education
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Research Proposal
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Evening

Module summary

This module aims to introduce students to the philosophy, principles, practices and techniques of qualitative social and educational research. It will help students to understand what is meant by educational research, including its nature, purposes, processes, and methods. The module will problematize the idea of human knowledge and as such present social research as a culturally and historically located process. It will help students to understand the key features of qualitative social research and how it emerged as an alternative to the quantitative paradigm. It will introduce students to a range of research methods and instruments of data collection used in qualitative educational research. The module will also encourage students to engage with ethical issues in educational research. The module aims to equip students to be able to write qualitative educational research proposals which will form the basis for their MA dissertations.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

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 begin by discussing the positivist origins of social research and move on to discussing 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 like action research, case study and ethnography. This will be followed by introducing them to a range of data collection strategies like 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 own 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 own proposed studies. The module will conclude by introducing students to some key terminology in quantitative educational research in order to enable them 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.

Learning and teaching

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 :
• understand the process of educational research and the role it can play in creating knowledge and furthering understanding of educational issues;
• demonstrate understanding of the philosophical bases of social research;
• demonstrate a good understanding of the differences between the quantitative and qualitative paradigms of social research;
• demonstrate a secure understanding of qualitative educational research and the implications of this for their own proposed investigations;
• show understanding of different methods of educational research and make an appropriate choice in the context of their own study;
• demonstrate familiarity with a range of instruments of data collection and make informed and well-justified choices in the context of their own research;
• show a good insight into ethical issues related to educational research and the implications of these for their own studies;
• 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


Angrosino, M. (2007) Doing Ethnographic Observational Research, London: Sage.
Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (eds.) (2011) Research Methods in Education, 7th edition, London: Routledge.
Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (eds.) (2011) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, 4th edition, London: Sage.
Dressman, M. (2008) Using Social Theory in Educational Research: A practical guide, London: Routledge.
Kvale, S. (2009) InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing, 2nd edition, London: Sage.
Marshall, C. and Rossman, G. B. (2011) Designing Qualitative Research, 5th edition, London: Sage.
Mukherji, P. and  Albon, D. (2010) Research Methods in Early Childhood:  An Introductory Guide, London: Sage.
Ritchie, J. and Lewis, J. (eds.) (2003) Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers, London: Sage.
Scott, D. Usher, R. (2011) Researching Education: Data, Methods and Theory in Educational Enquiry, 2nd edition, London: Continuum.
Scott, D. and Morrison, M. (2006) Key Ideas in Educational Research, London: Continuum.
Sharp, J. (2009) Success with Your Education Research Project, Exeter: Learning Matters.
Silverman, D. (2013) Doing Qualitative Research, 4th edition, London: Sage.


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