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Durham University

Faculty Handbook Archive

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2019-20. The current handbook year is 2020-21

Department: Sociology

SOCI1321: Social Research Methods

Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to L300 Sociology
Tied to L302 Sociology with Year Abroad
Tied to L303 Sociology with Placement Year
Tied to L370 Criminology
Tied to L371 Criminology with Year Abroad
Tied to L373 Criminology with Placement Year
Tied to LL36 Anthropology and Sociology
Tied to LL63 Anthropology and Sociology with Year Abroad
Tied to L6L3 Anthropology and Sociology with Placement Year
Tied to LA01 Liberal Arts
Tied to LMV0 Combined Honours in Social Sciences


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the concept of social research and empirical enquiry.
  • To give students practical experience producing, analysing and interpreting empirical data.
  • To equip students with the knowledge required to critically engage with issues of method and methodology for the purposes of evaluating published social science research.


  • In the first term, students will be introduced to basic issues and concepts in social research, including: research questions and hypotheses; issues of validity, reliability and replicability; issues in sampling and survey design; and basic coding and analysis of statistical data.
  • In the second term, students will be introduced to philosophical issues in social research as a framework for learning about a range of different approaches to research and analysis, with a focus on qualitative methods and ethical issues

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having completed this module, students wil be able to:
  • Understand the concept of evidence in social science as well as, the relationship between evidence and theory.
  • Understand the distinctive character of social research; and
  • Identify appropriate strategies for generating different kinds of social scientific knowledge.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Having completed this module, students will be able to:
  • Review and evaluate evidence; and
  • Produce reasoned social scientific arguments on the basis of evidence.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will be able to demonstrate:
  • An ability to frame research issues and problems;
  • An ability to interpret and evaluate empirical evidence;
  • An ability to gather and analyse information;
  • An ability to construct reasoned arguments;
  • Sound written communication skills;
  • Sound learning and study skills; and
  • An ability to plan and manage time effectively.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The lectures for this module will:
  • Introduce students to the idea of empirical evidence and the core methods used by social scientists to produce empirical evidence;
  • Contrast different approaches to social research and the metaphysical positions which underpin these different approaches;
  • Help students understand how to critically engage with research publications in the social sciences;
  • Encourage students to develop key skills in listening, selective note-taking and argumentation.
  • The workshops and practical classes for this module will:
  • Give students practical experience in producing, analysing and interpreting different kinds of data;
  • Provide a forum for students to discuss and critique empirical social research and develop their ability to critically engage with research literature;
  • Facilitate the development of verbal communication skills through small group and class discussion; and;
  • Foster a number of key skills, including information-gathering and retrieval, critical reading and evaluation, making reasoned arguments, based on available evidence.
  • The formative exercises for this module:
  • Requires students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specific skills, themes and concepts related to the module;
  • Require skills in gathering information, assessing evidence and critical reading; and
  • Will provide feedback designed to help students to reflect on their knowledge and understanding, and to improve their future work.
  • The summative assesments for this module:
  • Assess students’ understanding of the idea of evidence and their ability to use empirical data to produce informed social scientific arguments;
  • Assess students’ understanding of research methods and design in the social sciences and their ability to critically evaluate published social scientific research;
  • Assess students’ ability to communicate their ideas effective in writing, their ability to plan their time effectively and their ability to work to deadlines.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 1 Per Week 1 Hour 20
Workshops 7 Fortnightly (beginning of Term 1) 1 Hour 7
Practicals 3 Fortnighly (end of Term 1) 1 hour 3
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one assessed data analysis report 1500 words 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one assessed essay 1500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

• Mini statistics exercises (Term 1) • 1500 word formative essay (Term 2)

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University