module specification

ED7P39 - Education Dissertation (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Education Dissertation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 600
200 hours Guided independent study
340 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
60 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Dissertation 100%   10,000-to12,000-word dissertation
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Wednesday Afternoon
Summer studies North Not applicable -
Spring semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

This is a core module for the MA in Education and the single most significant learning unit on the programme as it constitutes one-third of the total credit value of the programme – 60 credits. 


This module requires students to conduct a small-scale qualitative research into any aspect of education.


At the beginning of the module, students are encouraged to review and refine a topic of personal/professional relevance and/or interest within the academic discipline of education that they identified in the research proposal that they would have written for the module Research Methods in Education. The are supported to refine the focus of their proposed research and operationalise it in the form of a researchable question.


The module encourages students to further explore some key debates in the philosophy of research and the emergence of the interpretivist paradigm in social research. They will be asked to locate their studies within the interpretivist paradigm and develop convincing justifications for doing so. 


The students will have opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of various aspects of qualitative research methodology. This knowledge will help to devise a sound design for their dissertation research projects.


The module will help the students develop and enhance their skills of qualitative data analysis.


Throughout the module, students will be provided opportunities to develop the skills of writing a good-quality dissertation that will report the execution and findings of a small-scale, qualitative primary research project.


Module Aims 


The module aims to enable students to:

enhance their knowledge and understanding of some of the key philosophical debates related to the ontology and epistemology of social research.

Consolidate and deepen their understanding of the purposes, nature, components, and processes of social research.

be able to design and conduct a small-scale qualitative research study in education.

be able to insightfully review and critique existing social research.

be able to confidently report the findings of a small-scale primary qualitative research study.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? NO


Introduction to Social Research (LO: 1 & 2)


The purpose of this module is to consolidate and deepen students understanding and skills related to educational research. During the module, the nature, purposes, processes, methods, ethical issues, and outcomes of social research with will be critically explored. The module starts by encouraging the students to consolidate their understanding of the concept and tradition of scientific academic research. The module is an important component of students’ learning journey as it aims to equip them with a sound understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and practical skills for carrying out valid academic research.


Approaches to Social Research (LO: 2)


This part of the module provides opportunities for the students to revisit and further explore the concept and process of the scientific method. It encourages them to see themselves as novice social scientists who will be investigating an aspect of education that they are interested in. This part of the module further explores the notion of social research and analyses the two main traditions therein – positivism and interpretivism. It problematises the notion of social reality and the implications of this for academic research. Students will be introduced to the idea of the locatedness of human knowledge both culturally and historically. Students are provided opportunities to revisit the ideas of ontology and epistemology in academic research. As such, the module provides students opportunities to further develop and consolidate a critical stance towards scientific knowledge and its relationship to the dynamics of power in contemporary societies.


Reviewing Existing Research (LO: 3) 


This part of the module encourages students to further the scientific tradition of creating new knowledge building on what already is known within an area of investigation. This is done by offering opportunities to students to search existing studies carried related to their research topics by accessing the library catalogue and navigating through various academic databases. This part of the module also makes an important contribution to developing students’ digital literacy skills.  Students are supported to critically examine a selection peer-reviewed journal articles related to the research area and use these to construct an insightful literature review for their dissertations. 


The Role of Theory in Social Research (LO: 4)


This part of the module explores the role of theory in social research. It introduces students to idea of the idea of a theoretical framework in social research and how it informs different aspects of the research project. Students are shown different exemplars of theoretical frameworks employed in social research. Some key theoretical perspectives are briefly introduced this part of the module. Among other things, the module encourages students to explore the relationship between the chosen theoretical framework, the methodological design of their studies, and the analysis of data.


Research Design and Methodology (LO: 5, 6, 7, & 8)


In this part of the module the students are asked to revisit the concept and process of the scientific method and use their understanding to construct a valid and scientifically tenable small-scale qualitative research project. It explores the concepts of ontology and epistemology and some key debates in relation to what counts as authentic, valid, and meaningful knowledge related to the social world. Students learn about the two main tradition of social research – positivism and interpretivism. The module aims to make students develop a secure understanding of the qualitative paradigm of research.


The module briefly explores different approaches used in qualitative research. This part of the module also introduces students to different instruments of data collection like interviews, focus groups, and observations.


In this part of the module, the students are encouraged to reflect on explore the importance of ethical issues related to social research and how they can make sure that high ethical standards, including the welfare of the participants and intellectual integrity of the project,, are always upheld.


Analysing Primary Qualitative Data and Reporting Findings (LO: 7 & 8)


In the final part of the module, students are given opportunities to develop the skills of effectively analysing primary qualitative data and to use this to arrive at findings that will help them answer the main research question that they set out to answer at the beginning of their research projects.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

It is envisaged that there will be extensive teaching and learning on this module with appropriate scaffolding for the students as many of them come to the degree with little no experience of research in the past. The teaching and academic support on the module will comprise the following strands:


Research Methods Teaching Sessions

Academic Skills Sessions

One-to-one Supervisory Support

Learning outcomes

As a result of successfully completing this module, you will be able to:


develop a clear and thought-through focus for your dissertation project and operationalise it in the form of a researchable question.

confidently discuss and analyse the differentiating characteristics of the two main traditions of social research, with a special focus on qualitative research.

explain the role of literature review in scientific research and review and synthesise relevant existing research to frame and locate your own study.

explain the role of a theoretical framework in social research and identify and present an appropriate one for your own research and use it to develop other aspects of your own research as well as draw on it to analyse the data.

write an analytical and critical account of the research methodology and design of a small-scale qualitative research project. 

design and conduct a small-scale qualitative research study and put in place robust safeguards to ensure that all aspects of your research conform to high ethical standards.

meaningfully and systematically analyse qualitative data to arrive at findings that would help you answer the main research question. 

demonstrate reflexivity as a social scientist/researcher, by critically reflecting on your role in a research project.