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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

SOCI59515: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Research

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


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the nature of contemporary social scientific research from an interdisciplinary and mixed-methods perspective.
  • To introduce students to the methodological practices across the social sciences.
  • To present the issues associated with establishing complex causality in the social sciences and the challenges of studying social complexity across the different disciplines.
  • To understand the philosophical, methodological and disciplinary intersections between different programmes of research, including the qualitative, quantitative, statistical, computational and historical.
  • To explore the various issues involved in the application of these methods within and outside of academia, including public policy and the public and private spheres.
  • To introduce students to ethical issues in the conduct of social research, including issues of power and equality.


  • What is social science from an interdisciplinary perspective?
  • Exploring complex causation and how it is addressed methodological across different disciplines.
  • An introduction to design strategies and different disciplinary practices.
  • Examining quantitative, qualitative, computational, historical statistical and mixed methods, including their relationship to different practical approaches to conducting research.
  • Ethics and reflexivity in research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module students will:
  • Understand the philosophy behind different social science methods and disciplinary practices – this includes a working knowledge of such key concepts as epistemology, ontology, and methodology and their relevance of them to the practice of social research.
  • Understand the issues associated with the establishment of complex causality and meaning in social science;
  • Be familiar with the nature of the quantitative, qualitative, historical, statistical and computational approaches in social science.
  • Be aware of interdisciplinary considerations and mixed-methods research approaches.
  • Have an understanding of the issues involved in applying these methods inside and outside academia – from policy evaluation and business to conducting academic studies.
  • Be aware of the implications of ethical issues for the practice of social research and be able to establish ethical guidelines for the conduct of their own research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students will:
  • Be able to reflect on the relative strengths and weaknesses of using different methodological disciplinary approaches to answer different types of questions.
  • Be able to connect epistemological, ontological and methodological concerns with each other, and have a developing understanding of the implications of these in relation to research design and data collection across the different disciplines of the social sciences.
Key Skills:
  • Use reading and engagement in learning activities to inform and develop conceptual understanding

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

  • Lectures (including guest lectures led by staff from different departments) contribute to theoretical understanding of related concepts, and seminars provide opportunities for students to reflect on their own understanding of these concepts and how they apply to particular approaches to research in practice, building on their own reading and preparatory activities.
  • The summative assignment takes the form of an essay that will enable students to compare and contrast how two of the disciplinary methods or practices explored in class would impact/change/inform a topic of study in which the student is interested. This process will enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the learning outcomes.
  • The formative assignment will enable students to prepare for their summative essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

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

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

An optional formative essay. Students will provide an overview of their strategy for completing their summative. Students can write a 500-word essay and turn in on DUO; or, during one of the seminars, they can do a pitch-to-peers or poster presentation. Students will receive feedback either in writing (for the essay), verbally during one of the seminars, or in person or by email with the module convener.

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