module specification

SS4004 - Researching Social Life (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Researching Social Life
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
210 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Research Report - Documentary research
Coursework 10%   Portfolio on Interpreting social statistics
Coursework 50%   In-class MCQ test
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year (Spring and Summer) North Monday Afternoon
Year North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module provides the foundation for an explicit, clear focus on social research throughout Sociology and related degrees in addition to supporting students to acquire understanding of and skills in academic literacy. The methodological principles and perspectives for effective social research are explained and also illustrated through exploration of research case studies.  It will additionally provide experience in using the vast array of text, visual and statistical primary documentary sources and their interpretation for research.  Research as process will be examined including main research approaches, the formulation and development of research questions and social, ethical and political contexts of research practice.


• Introduction to the sociological research enterprise – language, concepts and social research as process involving both imagination and rigour. LO1,LO2,LO3
• The articulation of investigative goals, developing research concerns into focussed questions; research design; interrelation of theory, method and data.
• The notion of academic literacy, characteristics and distinction from other forms of literacy. LO2,LO3,LO4
• Introduction to diversity of existing text and visual data sources for researching cultural and social life, their potential strengths, limitations and use as research data.
• Overviews of main research approaches, qualitative and quantitative, supplemented through illustrative research case studies.  LO3,LO4
• The relevance of varying social, cultural and political contexts for research practice and centrality of ethical considerations.
• The idea and use of evidence, the contribution of research and interpretation of data.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module will be delivered through a combination of formal lectures/presentations, group workshops and planned individual study tasks. Interactive workshops will take the form of structured activities and tasks related to lecture topics and in support of assessment tasks. Emphasis will be placed on ensuring opportunities throughout the module for an adequate balance of face to face and online individual tutorial support, supplemented by independent formative assessment undertaken by students. The latter will make use of WebLearn in addition to written outputs.  VLE tools e.g discussion board, online materials and links, will also be explored to actively encourage recommended reading of textbook and other sources as part of module delivery.

Learning outcomes

1. Demonstrate critical appreciation by explaining and applying  principles for effective social research 
2. Develop research questions and appraise text and visual documentary data sources
3. Explain principles and practice of main research methods and their appropriate use
4. Interpret basic social statistical research findings and explain their use in specific contexts

Assessment strategy

1. Research Report – 1500 words (40%) a documentary methods research exercise – due in Week 15
2. Portfolio tasks: Interpreting social statistics (10%) – due in week 22
3. In-class MCQ test  (1 hr, 50%) – due in week 28


Blaxter, L. Hughes C. and Tight M. (2010) How to research (4th ed.) Open University Press. (E-book)
Bryman, A. (2008) Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gilbert, N. (ed) (2008)  Researching Social Life. SAGE.
Neuman, W. (2012) Social Research Methods. Pearson