module specification

ED7138 - Researching Higher Education (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21, but may be subject to modification
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Researching Higher Education
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 200
180 hours Guided independent study
20 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Skills audit and action plan
Coursework 50%   Report, portfolio, manuscript, proposal
Running in 2020/21

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

The focus of this module is upon developing those research skills that are needed in order to
provide cogent research in learning and teaching in higher education.  The module is designed to
give a broad an overview of research methods and to facilitate the investigation of individual
research interests in teaching and learning

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The focus of this module is upon developing those research skills that are needed in order to provide cogent research in learning and teaching in higher education.  The module is designed to give a broad an overview of research methods and to facilitate the investigation of individual research interests in teaching and learning.  Consequently, the module aims to:
• develop understanding of the ways in which research questions are identified and how literature searches are used to provide a foundation for research;
• develop knowledge and understanding in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies so that participants are able to select appropriate methods in designing and carrying out research projects in teaching and learning which will provide reliable and valid results;
• provide a platform for personal self-development in the areas of designing and carrying out educational research as well as the opportunity to present individual and/or group work at seminars and workshops;
• develop the capacity to evaluate educational research critically;
• specifically, through the work required on this module, participants will be prepared for undertaking the dissertation and any smaller research projects required on other modules.


The core programme will address the following:
1. Models of research used in study of Higher Education
• Different traditions of research methods and their application in the study of HE
• Quantitative and Qualitative methods

2. Normative research - data collection, management and reporting
• The aims and role of quantitative research in HE studies
• Methods of quantitative research
• Statistical analysis of findings
• Presentation of qualitative data

3. Interpretative research - data collection, management and reporting
• The aims and role of qualitative research in HE studies
• Methods of qualitative research
• Analysis of findings
• Presentation of qualitative results

4. Managing a Research project

4.1. Planning your research project
• Purpose of the research project
• Choosing a research topic
• Identifying key stages and milestones
• Are there any disability/discrimination issues that should be considered?

4.2. Ethical considerations
• Ethics: what factors need to be taken into consideration
• Informed consent (do subjects really know what they have agreed to/are letting themselves in for?)
• Ethics committees
• Privacy/anonymity
• Data protection act

4.3. Writing up a research proposal
• Integrating research and supporting evidence with evidence-based practice
• Producing balanced and convincing arguments
• Drawing meaningful conclusions
• Linking findings with future practice

Learning and teaching

The core workshops will involve the use of a series of relevant case studies in order to present the participant with an overview of the types of research methodology that are available to researchers in education.  The programme will utilise the range of subject backgrounds of the participants in group work as an important element of the programme. 

The module relies on considerable independent study from the participants and this is facilitated and managed through the skill audit element of the assessment.  In order to complete that element the participants must identify areas for their own development and to achieve that development through:
• Independent reading
• Use of internet resources and on-line courses
• Attendance at workshops – Higher Education Research Group, Higher Education Research Seminars
• Workshops/tutorials provided on request
• Opportunities in/after workshops and in organised tutorials for reflection on application to current and future research activity – internal and external

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module participants should be able to:
1. Identify a suitable methodology for an individual research topic based within their teaching and justify that choice of methodology.
2. Demonstrate understanding of the major research methodologies available to researchers in higher education practice across a range of subject disciplines.
3. Audit and reflect on their own research expertise and identify areas for improvement
4. Devise an action plan that addresses areas for improvement
5. Demonstrate advanced evaluative skills in relation to methodologies and evidence used in published and online research.

Assessment strategy

The assessment for the module has two components:
(a) Research skills audit and action plan, including an evaluation with evidence that the action plan successfully addressed areas for improvement.
Assessment criteria

A good research skills audit will:
• demonstrate a good level of self-analysis and understanding of research paradigms
• contain a realistic action plan
• evaluate the achievement of the action plan
• identify areas for on-going development
(b) A dissertation proposal or research report demonstrating that a research project has been identified, appropriate methodology specified, and where appropriate, the data collected, analysed and evaluated.  Evidence of the decision making process undergone during the initial design and specification of the project should be documented and presented.
Assessment criteria

A good proposal or research report will demonstrate:
• the ability to formulate an effective research question
• selection of appropriate research methodologies, and awareness of their limits
• a consideration of ethical issues
• application of relevant literature
• a systematic approach to planning a research project and methods of data collection and analysis


Core Text

Cohen, L, Manion, L., & Morrison, K., (2011) Research Methods in Education (7th Edition), Routledge/Falmer

Suggested web sites:

The Research Methods Knowledge Base  - (last accessed 21.05.2013)
British Educational Research Association (BERA) - Revised Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research (2011) (last accessed 21.05.2013)
University Research Ethics Policy and Code of Good Research Practice available at:
(last accessed 21.05.2013)

Other Texts:

Bassey, M. (1999) Case Study Research in Educational Settings (Doing Qualitative Research in Educational Settings), Open University Press
Blaxter, L., Hughes, C. and Tight, M. (2006) How to Research (3rd Ed), Open university Press
Bryman, A. and Cramer, D. (2008) Quantitative Data Analysis with SPSS 14, 15 and 16: A Guide for Social Scientists, London, Routledge
Cousin, G. (2008) Researching Learning in Higher Education: An Introduction to Contemporary Methods and Approaches, Routledge
Denscombe, M. (2007) The good research guide (3rd Ed), OUP
Drever, E. (2003) Using Semi-Structured Interviews in Small Scale Research: A Teacher’s Guide, Glasgow, The Scottish Council for Research in Education
Gray, D.E. (2009) Doing Research in the Real World, (2nd ed), Sage Publications
Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (2007) Ethnography: Principles in Practice, London, Routledge
McKernan J. (1996), Curriculum Action Research, Routledge, London
McNiff, J. (2001) Action Research: Principles and Practice, (2nd Ed), London, Routledge
Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M. and Saldaña, J.M. (2013) Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook, (3rd ed), Sage Publications
Oppenheim, A.N. (2000) Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement, London, Continuum International Publishing Group
Silverman, D. (2006) Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction (3rd Ed.), London, Sage
Silverman, D. (2004) Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook (2nd Ed), London, Sage
Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (2008) Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques, London, Sage
Tight, M. (2012), Researching Higher Education, (2nd ed), Open University Press
Yin, R. (2008) Case Study: Design and Methods, 4th Edition, London, Sage