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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
No such Code for pgprog:

Department: Sociology

SOCI59415: Research Design and Process

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


  • None.


  • Perspectives in Social Research (SOCI59515)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide training in research design and an understanding of the research process in preparation for the MA dissertation/Phd research and careers in social research.


  • Introduction: Planning and designing research and the timeline of a research project.
  • Formulating research questions and their relationship with research design.
  • Reviewing the literature critically and its relationship to your own research.
  • Operationalising concepts: moving from theory to research.
  • Finding and accessing data and/or engaging research participants – practicalities and ethical issues.
  • Quantitative designs, sampling, questionnaire designs, experimental methods, secondary data analysis.
  • Qualitative designs, focusing on small scale qualitative research.
  • Online research design and methods.
  • Case studies,
  • Mixed methods.
  • Reviewing and evaluating research proposals.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will:
  • Have an understanding of how to formulate and design a research project;
  • Understand the ethical, political and organisational issues involved in social research;
  • Understand the processes and stages involved in planning a research project.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • During periods of online teaching, for asynchronous lectures in particular, planned lecture hours may include activities that would normally have taken place within the lecture itself had it been taught face-to-face in a lecture room, and/or those necessary to adapt the teaching and learning materials effectively to online learning.
      • Through lectures, seminars, and course assessment.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 10 fortnightly 1 10
      Seminars 10 fortnightly 1 10
      Preparation & Reading 130
      Total 150

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Research proposal 3,000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Students will have the option of submitting a short plan (up to 1000 words) of their research proposal.

      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