Module code: SOCM061

Module Overview

This module aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the role and importance of conceptual and methodological issues in research design. In particular, we will consider some of the philosophical concepts and assumptions that underpin the practice of research, and some aspects of the relationship between theoretical frameworks and different methodological approaches to empirical research.

We will pay particular attention to the theoretical underpinnings of different approaches to research methods including, positivism, empiricism, realism and interpretavism and debates over the relations between structure and agency, knowledge and research technique.

The primary purpose of Methodological Issues in Research Design is to allow students to make important and informed choices with respect to their research. We will explore the research process from different points of view and students will come out of the course with both a better understanding of some of the choices open to them as researchers and with an informed perspective from which to make those choices.

Module provider


Module Leader

EVERGETI Venetia (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 130

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:  

  • the purpose and nature of social research

  • structure and agency

  • research practice based on positivist research

  • the value of empirical research

  • understanding and explanation (interpretativism)

  • individualism vs. holism

  • conceptualising and analysing conversation

  • mixed methods

  • reflexivity

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Oral presentation of research proposal 30
Coursework Final Essay (3,000 words) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate precise knowledge of some of the fundamental issues and debates in the philosophy of social science and a capacity to grasp the relative merits and uses of some of the key methodological and theoretical perspectives of social science that are covered in the module.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • An oral presentation of students’ chosen research project

  • An end of term essay on selected topics covered in the module

Individual written feedback will be provided for both units of assessment using the student feedback form. Generic feedback will also be given in the form of general comments discussed in class and uploaded on SurreyLearn. In addition, individual verbal feedback will be given in one-to-one sessions. The feedback will indicate what was done well and what you need to do to improve in the future. It will relate both to understanding of module topics, and more general writing and communication skills. Where possible, feedback on the oral presentation will be in relation to the dissertation students are planning to submit at the end of their degree and the suitability of their chosen theory/methods.

Module aims

  • • To introduce students to a number of key methodological issues and positions and some of the key pilosophies within social science
  • • To develop their capacity to recognise and engage with methodological issues•
  • • To develop their confidence and competence at evaluating methodological arguments and arriving at an independent, reasoned position in relation to them
  • • To further enhance you capacities as social researchers
  • • Provide students with a critical understanding of the role and importance of conceptual and theoretical issues in social research

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Reflect critically and creatively on social research and its place in society
002 Design and practice social research with the knowledge of fundamental issues underpinning different theories and methodologies
003 Develop an understanding of some of the fundamental issues in the philosophy of social science
004 Have some insight into the relationship between theoretical frameworks and forms of analysis
005 Be able to carry out their own research choosing the appropriate tools from a variety of methodological techniques

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Enable students to explore important research questions using a variety of methodological tools, be able to design and undertake research and data analysis, and critically evaluate the appropriateness of different methods for different research areas and social contexts. This will be achieved through a combination of lectures and seminar discussions.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Ten weekly sessions of two hours. Most weeks will comprise a mixture of lectures and discussions. The sessions will involve interactive in-class activities and group discussions. The format of these might change from week to week, depending on the topics covered.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOCM061

Other information


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research Methods MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.