module specification

SH5009 - Ethical Research in Professional Contexts (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Ethical Research in Professional Contexts
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
180 hours Guided independent study
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Essay (2000 words)
Coursework 40%   Research Exercise (2000 words)
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to both ethics and research through an exploration of principles, theories, and practices that inform decision making in professional contexts. It is taught in two interconnected parts. In Part 1 students will study ethics using sector specific professional codes of ethical conduct and will examine underlying normative ethical theories as they are represented within such codes. Current ethical debates for professional practice will be considered, providing opportunities for the critical application of different ethical perspectives to a range of contemporary moral issues and situations in professional contexts. In Part 2, students will be introduced to ethical research processes & 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.

This module aims to:

• Introduce students to professional codes of ethics and underlying ethical concepts and methods of ethical decision-making
• Provide students with a critical understanding of different ethical approaches to moral dilemmas in a range of practice-based professional contexts
• Provide opportunities for students to critically engage with current debates about ethical decision-making in professional practice
• Enable the development of skills in moral reasoning that can be applied in practical contexts
• Provide a foundation for understanding approaches to ethical social research and evidence based practice
• Facilitate the development of research skills and knowledge for professional and academic development in a range of practice-based professional contexts


The module programme will be delivered in 2 interconnected parts. The syllabus includes:

Part 1
• Introduction to sector specific professional codes of ethical practice
• Critical thinking and moral philosophy in relation to understanding professional codes of ethics, and in application to a variety of ‘real world’ case-studies from Sector specific practice
• A range of professional ethical issues including: confidentiality; informed consent; autonomy versus best interests; resource allocation; cost-benefit analysis; defining ‘best’ practice; characterising the ethical professional (honesty, compassion, integrity, etc.)
• The relationship between professional ethics and law e.g. mental capacity
• Negotiating personal ethical beliefs & professional ethics

Part 2

• Understanding the research process and research principles including research ethics
• Development of contemporary research thinking; research paradigms; key elements of practice based research;
• Theoretical approaches to the process of research
• Understanding research reports
• Understanding methodology and methods
• Developing research questions, writing a protocol, project management; tools and techniques of research
• Dealing with bias and limitations, reflective practice in research, evidence based and values based practice.

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 6

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be expected to:

Part 1
1. Outline the key perspectives, principles and approaches to ethics and apply the processes of ethical decision making
2. Identify and critically explore the ethical and moral aspects of specific practices in diverse professional contexts, including professional codes of ethics
3. Engage in ethical reasoning and debate, with due regard for cultural differences and contexts
Part 2
4. Operate the research process and ethical approaches to research
5. Apply research principles and skills to selected professional contexts
6. Reflect on biases and limitations in conducting research

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for this module is designed to assess achievement of the module learning outcomes for both parts. It includes a range of formal and informal assessment tools; assignments will be formatively and/or summatively assessed. These assignments will include individual and group activities, case-study work, presentations, progress exercises, a coursework essay and research exercise.

The module’s formal summative assessment consists of the following two components which assess both parts for the module:
Part 1
1. Essay - (2000 words, LO 1,2, 3)
2. Research exercise - students will prepare a mini research protocol identifying and critically analysing the research skills used (2,00 words, LO 4, 5 and 6)