module specification

SS5031 - Qualitative Educational Research in Theory and Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Qualitative Educational Research in Theory and Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Theoretical paradigms and research strategies (2500 words essay)
Coursework 60%   Research Proposal (3000 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces and explores contemporary themes and methods in educational research.  It supports students as they locate, read and interpret published educational research and evaluate both its findings and its design and methodologies.

Module aims

This module aims:

• To develop students understanding of research as disciplined enquiry;

• To introduce students to a range of influential examples of qualitative research in education and to evaluate them with reference to their design, methodological orientation, enactment and findings;

• To outline the character, purposes and applicability of quantitative and positivist research methodologies in relation to qualitative methods;

• To support students in reading and critically assessing research based studies both in terms of their findings and their processes;

• To examine the relationship between forms of educational research and their bearing on policy;

• To provide students with some initial guidance in methods of qualitative research as foundation for thinking about their Final Year Dissertation.


A comparative review of positivist, interpretivist and critical research paradigms; understanding of their philosophical rationale along with the possibilities and limitations they present; recognition of how each paradigm translates into research design and practices.

A critical survey of educational research and identification of its historical and current concerns and key themes.  Critical discussion of the relationship between research, policy and professional practice, including topical notions surrounding research-informed practice.

Research design, practice and ethics.

Approaches to reading and interpreting published research.

Learning and teaching

Students will learn in lectures, seminars and tutorial groups.  They will report and reflect on their progress through the module by posting literature reviews that will form part of the assessment of the module.  Sessions will also build in opportunities for peer review.  There will also be a continuing emphasis on academic literacies through the reading, writing and information literacy strategies.  Students will be explicitly guided through reading and study strategies to enable them to confident users of the research material presented to them; there will be a continuation of the “write to learn” strategy found in the course writing strategy.  Explicit connections will be made with other modules in which research challenges are presented – notably, Working with Children and Young People, where the ethical challenges associated with research involving children and young people will be explored.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

• Demonstrate an increasing fluency with published, peer-reviewed educational literature, especially that from journal sources, as part of their developing academic literacy;
• Describe the territory addressed by educational research and the particular methods employed by some of the contributory disciplines of Education Studies;
• Demonstrate an informed understanding of positivist, interpretivist and critical research paradigms and be able to identify these in the design and transaction of published research;
• Discuss and critique specific pieces of educational research in terms of its methodological orientation and processes;
• Identify critical linkages between research findings and their contribution to policy formation;
• Frame clear research questions and match them with methods suited to answering those questions and, by implication, identifying those that are not suited;
• Demonstrate a critical fluency and literacy appropriate to students entering their final year of study and about to embark on their own research project.

Assessment strategy

Assessment of this module will be as follows:

1. Summative assessment on theoretical paradigms and research strategies (2,500 words); weighting: 40%; Week due 14

2. Summative assessment  on proposed research topic for level 6 dissertation  (3,000 words)


Archer, L; Hollingworth, S and Mendick, H (2010) Urban Youth and Schooling. Maidenhead: McGrawHill

Atkins, L and Wallace, S (2012) Qualitative Research in Education. London: Sage

Ball, S. (ed.)(2004) The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Sociology of Education, London: Routledge

Burton, D., and Bartlett, S. (2009) Key Issues for Educational Researchers, London: Sage.

Delaney, C. (2008) Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology, Oxford: Blackwell

Fevre, R., and Bancroft, A. (2010) Dead White Men and Other Important People: Sociology’s Big Ideas, London: Palgrave Macmillan

Flick, U (2014) An introduction to Qualitative Research. London: Sage

Goodson, I., and Sikes, P. (2001) Life History Research in Educational Settings, Buckingham: Open University Press

Hammersley, M., and  Atkinson, P. (2007) Ethnography: Principles in Practice,(Third Edition), London: Routledge

Kellett, M., (2010) Rethinking Children and Research, London: Continuum

Lichtman, M (2013) An Introduction to Qualitative Research. London: Sage

May, T. (2003) Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process, (Third Edition), Buckingham: Open University

O’Reilly, K. (2005) Ethnographic Methods, London: Routledge.

O’Reilly, K. (2009) Key Concepts in Ethnography, London: Sage.

Plummer, K. (2005) Documents of Life 2, London: Sage

Hughes, J., and Sharrock, W. (1997) The Philosophy of Social Research, Harrow: Pearson Longman

Useful Journals
Gender and Education
History of Education
British Journal of the Sociology of Education
Education and Social Justice
European Journal of Cultural Studies
International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Journal of Curriculum Studies
Journal of Education Policy
Language Awareness
Multicultural and Multilingual Development