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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4S715: Fundamentals of the Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To acquaint students with key ideas and debates in the history of science, philosophy of science, sociology/economics of science, psychology of science, and management of science.
  • To provide students with the skills and knowledge required to engage in scholarly discourse and exemplary scholarly research practice.
  • To facilitate students’ in-depth engagement with current debates surrounding research philosophy (ontology and epistemology) relevant to doctoral-level study in a business.
  • To facilitate students’ in-depth engagement with current developments of research ethics, open science and the implications for their doctoral research. To develop students’ doctoral-level research skills in relation to developing innovative, rigorous, and relevant research questions.
  • To develop student’s critical understanding of ethical implications for their doctoral research projects.
  • To acquaint and prepare students for their scholarly career.


  • Research design process
  • Research questions
  • Research traditions and methodologies
  • Research ethics
  • Open science
  • Research review process
  • Communicating research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Critical understanding of different research philosophies, including different epistemological assumptions, theoretical traditions and current developments
  • Critical understanding of inductive, deductive and abductive quantitative and qualitative research
  • Reading, reviewing and writing at a doctoral level
  • Critical understanding of ethical implications and challenges
  • Critical understanding of open science practice
  • Critical understanding of research design, execution, analysis, publication and review
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to critically evaluate research and underlying philosophies
  • Ability to develop innovative, rigorous, and relevant research questions
  • Ability to evaluate strengths and opportunities of research designs
  • Ability to communicate academic concepts, verbally and in writing
Key Skills:
  • Advanced academic reading and writing
  • Formulating and communicating doctoral-level research questions
  • Critically evaluating and developing valid research designs
  • Self-management and time management
  • Managing collaborative projects

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

  • The module will be delivered in a blended format, including lecture-type delivery, but with a stronger focus on guided work in small groups, and on individual work that helps students develop a deeper understanding of doctoral-level research.
  • Lectures on key topics, guest presentations and clinical sessions from researchers, authors, reviewers and editors of journals, doctoral examiners and supervisors, and completed PhD students.
  • Based on selected publications, students will learn to deconstruct the research and publication process
  • The summative assessment of the module is designed to facilitate students’ critical thinking and academic presentation skills.
  • The formative assessment is designed for students to learn from each other by undertaking a peer review of a piece of writing.
  • Comprehensive reading and self-study materials will be provided online.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures (online) 10 Weekly 2 hours 20
Tutor supported small group work (online and classroom) 5 As required 4 hours 20
Preparation and Reading 110
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Critical Review and Conceptual Framework 3000 words 100% Same
Component: Individual Poster Presentation Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Part of academic life is presenting at various events (e.g., conferences etc). As part of this module students will produce a poster presentation of their conceptual model. A work-in-progress conceptual model focuses on the philosophical, methodological and research techniques most closely aligned to their intended research idea, as well as the core theory and constructs relevant to their thesis ideas. 15 minute presentations and 15 minute Q&A 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

A small-group based peer review feedback session. Groups of students will present their work during the poster session and be provided with a peer review by fellow students under the guidance of the professors. A peer review template will be provided to students for the exercise.

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