Module code: POLM009

Module Overview

This module will provide an introduction to the design and conduct of social science research. Throughout, examples will be drawn from recent research in the areas of politics and policy. However, emphasis will also be placed on the applicability of these methods to other subject areas across the social sciences.




Module provider


Module Leader


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: 100

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 17

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Research questions: what they are, why they are important and how to go about formulating them.

An overview of qualitative approaches to social research. This will include: the design of qualitative research; methods of collecting qualitative data (for example, individual interviews, focus groups, ethnographic observations and documentary sources); and relevant analytical methods.

An overview of quantitative approaches to social research. This will include: the design of quantitative research; methods of collecting quantitative data (for example, questionnaires, surveys and structured interviews); and relevant analytical methods.

Triangulation -- combining quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Ethical issues in social research.

Reading and evaluating qualitative and quantitative research.

Writing up research for different audiences

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework RESEARCH PROPOSAL (3000 words) 60

Alternative Assessment

Either a voice-over-slides file or 800-word blog style documentation

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  • Understanding of research methods applied in published research

  • Understanding of how to apply methods in their own research

  • Deep knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of research approaches in politics and international relations

  • Knowledge of the philosophy of social sciences

  • Understanding of ethical and standards implications of social scientific research

  • Ability to develop research questions, hypotheses, research strategies and designs and understand feasibility of a research project in light of their dissertation assignment for POLM010 or their placement report for POLM031

Therefore, the following assessments have been identified as appropriate for assessing students on the criteria above:

  • Critical Review of a research article of 1500 words (1);

  • Presentation of the Research Proposal Outline in class 5 minutes (2);

  • and a Research Proposal of 3000 words (3).

Formative feedback will be provided in a number of occasions throughout the module.

Module aims

  • To develop students' understanding of the ways in which social research is designed and conducted. It will provide a broad overview of both qualitative and quantitative approaches (with an emphasis on the former) to research in the social sciences. In addition, it will develop students' capacities to design research questions and select appropriate methods of data collection and analysis to enable them to answer their research questions.
  • Encourage students to think critically about the ethical implications of their research design, and about how they will go about writing up their research. By drawing on this knowledge and understanding, the module also aims to enable students to evaluate critically the research of others.
  • Through the in-class activities as well as oral assessment. students will be trained in scientific research practices, become familiar with relevant databases and other academic resources and develop broader transferable skills such as public speaking and the appropriate use of technology in presentations and group work

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Critically evaluate and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of frequently used methodologies of data collection and analysis (qualitative and quantitative) described in the module content section below KCPT
002 Formulate research questions appropriate to their area of interest and integrate their investigation in the design of a research project, selecting appropriate methods of data collection and analysis to test hypotheses, where appropriate. KCPT
003 Identify and analyse the ethical implications of particular approaches to political science research. KCPT
004 Review the quality and implementation of, and propose alternative methodologies for research presented in current peer reviewed journal articles. KCPT

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:

  • Develop students’ knowledge of research methods in politics and international relations

  • Provide students with practical examples of the application of particular methods and how to apply them in their own research.

  • Understand advantages and disadvantages of different approaches and appropriateness

  • Familiarise students with the relevant social scientific research methods terminology

  • Build a robust understanding through the integrated use of digital tools including MS Teams channels, interactive digital platforms (Padlet) as well as effective presentation skills to advance students' vocational skills and graduate prospects.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Seminars in a computer lab.

  • Additional captured content and digital resources support via SurreyLearn


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: POLM009

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
International Relations (International Intervention) MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
International Relations MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 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 2024/5 academic year.