module specification

SS5016 - Research for Community Development (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Research for Community Development
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 300
81 hours Guided independent study
219 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Class Participation and Presentation
Coursework 60%   Research Proposal 3000 words
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module will introduce research and specially applied research to students from community development and Leadership and Health and Community Development areas. Students will be introduced to the research process and research knowledge and skills relevant to professional and academic development. These research principles will provide a foundation for understanding approaches to social research and evidence based practice and research design. It will introduce research methods and the basics of preparing a research proposal on themes related directly to community development field. It will further focus on how to decide the appropriateness of different research approaches in a variety of environments.

Module aims

The module sets out to:

  • Provide a foundation for understanding approaches to social and community research and evidence based practice;
  • Facilitate the development of research skills and knowledge for professional and academic development with a focus on community development;
  • provide students with a practical understanding of doing primary social research and understanding their underlying philosophies;
  • explore the design and organisation of research approaches;
  • examine a range of ethnographic and other methods of data collection and analysis;
  • examine participatory approaches in research in the context of social/political dimensions of knowledge production, who creates knowledge, where and how it is used;
  • reflect on political and ethical issues inherent in doing social research;
  • develop and demonstrate transferable skills and knowledge through practical workshop exercises and individual research design.


The module syllabus covers a range of research issues including an introduction to different styles of community-based research; principles and practice of doing various types of fieldwork, such as participant observation; methods of collecting data from the field; data analysis; case-study examples, such as studies carried out in a work based environment,

Central to the module is providing students with the opportunity to learn about what kinds of research work well, are fit to purpose and therefore are culturally appropriate depending on the communities involved. Students will gain practical experience of using research in particular through hands-on research design practice. They will acquire knowledge and skills that will be immediately applicable in their Honours level projects as well as in their future employment. The topics covered are applicable throughout professional research practice across a range of activities including market and evaluation research, community and independent sector work, local and central government sectors as well as academic social research.

Learning and teaching

The module teaching and learning is based on lectures and interactive workshop sessions supplemented by on-line activity. The lectures outline the principles, methods, applications and issues associated with the different research styles that are used. The lecture programme provides practical guidance and knowledge of practitioner-based style research which aims to show students how research can be applied to a professional occupational setting.

The workshops are designed to develop students' practical research skills in research design, data handling and analysis of fieldwork. The face-to-face teaching pattern comprises a one hour lecture/presentation and a two hour workshop weekly. In addition students will be expected to undertake regular private study, including weekly practical tasks related to the workshops, to a total of 150 hours per semester. Practicing researchers will be invited to present their work and students will have the opportunity to visit community based agencies undertaking research.

On-line activity will include access to module materials and multi-media with links to ethnographic, community based and other research resources, e.g. online reading and research and analysis activities in preparation for class discussions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. describe and contrast a range of research styles used in applied social research;
  2. prepare a research proposal for a small scale piece of research;
  3. discuss the use of data analysis in research;
  4. identify and describe the broader issues of social research including philosophical and ethical concerns;
  5. apply problem-solving abilities both individually and as part of a group, through reflection, self-evaluation and communication skills.

Assessment strategy

Students will demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes through ongoing activities and seminar participation which include the following:

• Monthly reflective accounts (formatively assessed and peer assessed)
• 2 short presentations on research reports

The summative assessment is the research proposal which is a written piece of 3000 words submitted on week 28.

The practical coursework is closely related to the module syllabus and will draw on compulsory workshop activities.

The assessment strategy for this module is designed to assess achievement of the module learning outcomes. It includes a range of formative and summative assessment tools.


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Becker H.S. (1963) Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance New York: Free Press
Beresford, P. (2003) It's Our Lives: A short theory of knowledge, distance and experience, Citizen Press in association with Shaping Our Lives
Bryman, A., (2008) Social Research Methods 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press
Burgess R. (1991) In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research London: Routledge
Chambers, R (1995) Paradigm shifts and the practice of participatory research and development in Nelson, N and Wright, S (eds). Power and Participatory development: Theory and Practice. ITDG Publishing.
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