module specification

SS7079 - Criminological Research Methods (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18, but may be subject to modification
Module title Criminological Research Methods
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 200
160 hours Guided independent study
40 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   One 2,500 word essay
Coursework 50%   One data analysis exercise (utilising SPSS), 2,500 words
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

The module seeks to provide a good grounding in the understanding and appreciation of criminological research methods.  Students will be taken through the process of conducting social research from the formulation of a research question through to the completion of a [quantitative] research report. Students will learn about designing social research, data collection and analysis in a clear and accessible way. The module will enable students to determine which research methodology to apply as part of the research process. Students on this module will benefit from the experience of ‘guest’ lectures from academics with experience of conducting primary research within the field of criminology/criminal justice. Guest speakers will include, for example, University-based or Home Office researchers or those based in particular criminal justice agencies. These lectures/workshop sessions are designed to help students understand the practicalities and challenges of conducting research in the 'real world'. Students will receive tuition on quantitative data collection and analysis with a particular emphasis on the use of SPSS. During their engagement with the module, students will also be expected to make the appropriate level of reference to standard texts in research methods; this will assist in the evaluation of specific research studies, which forms a key component of the module. The module commences by providing an overview of the principal approaches in social research.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module aims to:

1. Provide a thorough grounding in the understanding and appreciation of criminological research methods.
2. Develop a competence in understanding the strengths and limitation of quantitative and qualitative research
3. Develop a competence in analysing quantitative and qualitative research data and writing research reports.
4. Assist students in designing and conducting research for their thesis, and in developing their skills of critical reflection and analysis.
5. To critically appraise quantitative and qualitative research produced by statutory agencies (such the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police) and voluntary sector organisations related to the Criminal Justice System to enhance their employment prospects.


The module will be delivered through a one-hour lecture and a one hour seminar or workshop, and will focus on the following topics/issues.

• Research approaches in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy.
• Questionnaire construction.
• Asking questions: the qualitative approach.
• Conducting ethnographic research.
• Content Analysis: Historical and archival analysis.
• Quantitative data collection and analysis.
• Research ethics: reflexivity and safety. 
• Researching vulnerable groups.
• Researching police practices.

Learning and teaching

The teaching strategy for the module consists of two-three hours face-to-face contact with the student each week; to run consecutively. Each teaching session will vary in content week by week. The sessions will comprise of a compulsory lecture followed by a compulsory seminar/workshop. This will allow the student five hours per week for independent research and study.

The students will have virtual contact the module leader via Weblearn. The Weblearn material will consist of lecture notes, seminar workshops, articles and audio visual material pertinent to the module.

Learning outcomes

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

• distinguish between theoretical research and theoretically informed empirical research and to distinguish the latter from simple ‘fact finding’;
• critically evaluate examples of empirical research in criminology and criminal justice.
• demonstrate an enhanced knowledge of a wide range of research concepts, terminology and methods; and an enhanced knowledge of the methodological literature.
• apply their understanding of criminological research methodologies to their own research practice.
• have an understanding of ethical principles of social research.
• complete practical quantitative and qualitative research exercises and write a research report that is of potential use to criminal justice practitioners and the criminological research community.

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed in two parts: one 2500 word essay (worth 50%) and a data analysis exercise (2500), using SPSS, worth 50%. 

The essay is to be submitted in Week 7 and the data analysis exercise is submitted in Week 14 of the teaching term.   Essay titles and data analysis material are provided in advance and available to the students via Weblearn.

The students will have an opportunity to receive formative feedback from the first assignment which is due 7 weeks before the second submission. Summative feedback will be received by the student at the end of the module in a module review session. The students will also be given an opportunity to evaluate their learning experience.


Balnaves, M. (2001) 'Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods', London: Sage
Bryman, A. (1988), 'Quality and Quantity in Social Research', London: Routledge
Bryman, A. (2001) 'Social Research Methods', (2nd edition) Oxford: Oxford University Press
Davies, P., Francis, P., & Jupp, V. (2011) (eds) Doing Criminological Research (2nd Edition) Sage
de Vaus D.A. (2002) Surveys in Social Research (5th edn) London: Routledge
Denzin, N. K., and Lincoln, Y. S. (1998) Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry (eds) Sage
Field, A. (2009) Discovering Statistics using SPSS: (and sex and drugs and rock and roll) London: Sage
Fielding, J. & Gilbert, N. (2000) Understanding Social Statistics London: Sage
Gilbert, N. (2001) Researching Social Life (2nd edition) London: Sage
Kvale, S. (2007) Doing Interviews, Sage Publications
Jupp, V. (1989) Methods of Criminological Research. Routledge: London
May, T. (2001) Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process (3rd edition) Buckingham Open University Press
Noakes, E., & Wincup, E. (2011) Criminological Research: Understanding Qualitative Methods London: Sage
O’Connell Davidson, J., & Layder, D. (1994) Methods, Sex and Madness. Routledge: London/ New York
Silverman, D. (ed) (2004) 'Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice' (2nd edn) London: Sage