Module code: SOCM078

Module Overview

Successful development as a social researcher requires a range of skills beyond the technical aspects of research methods alone. Students on the MSc Social Research programme will need to develop skills in accessing and organizing information and will require an awareness of the broader context in which social research operates, including how social research is governed and communicated. The content of this module is both important to underpin success on the programme and atudents¿ future research careers. This module offers students the opportunity to explore an important set of skills and awareness to support their research and to reflect on how to deploy these skills in the context of their own. The module is strongly focused on personal development, with assessment comprising a personal development portfolio of entries responding to each of the skills and awareness topics.

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

Workshop Hours: 11

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

 The topics to be explored include the following:

  • literature searching: principles and software tools

  • research integrity and governance

  • open research, data management and data archiving

  • locating and using secondary data

  • introduction to survey design (total survey error/total survey design/the importance of mode)

  • designing survey questions

  • survey sampling and dealing with non-response

  • administering surveys in Qualtrics

  • data visualization formats, emerging methods and AI

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Personal Development Portfolio 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have successfully met the learning outcomes of the module, covering specific skills in software and awareness of the principles that underpin social research and focusing on their application within personal development as a social researcher.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of a portfolio of ten individual entries reflecting on the individual learning task set for each weekly topic. Students will be set a practical or information-gathering task and given guidance on completing a portfolio entry that will focus on their reflection on the experience of that task. Across the portfolio students will be asked to focus on identifying their ongoing skill gaps and strategies to address them and also on developing their personal interpretation of the wider context of social research in which they will be working. Each portfolio entry will be approximately 300 words in length, amounting to a full portfolio of 3000 words to be submitted as one piece of assessment at the end of the module. The portfolio entries cumulatively address all learning outcomes


 Formative assessment

Students will be encouraged to complete portfolio entries on a weekly basis and will be offered verbal feedback in a debrief on the previous week’s task at the beginning of each session after the first. An opportunity for written formative assessment will be provided with students given the opportunity to submit the first three portfolio entries for qualitative feedback. They will be given feedback to enable them to revise these entries and to inform the writing of future entries.



Ongoing feedback will be offered in the context of class discussion and practical sessions, highlighting for students where they might extend their reflection or develop their skills further. Written feedback will be offered on the formative submission, identifying for students where they might deepen reflection or include further detail in their evaluation of the skills and knowledge they are acquiring. Written feedback will be offered on the summative submission, identifying for students where their reflections have been successful and where they might be further extended, and identifying areas to apply the feedback in future work.

Module aims

  • Develop students¿ awareness of literature searching and introduce software to support literature review and reference management
  • Enable students to evaluate the potential of secondary data and develop awareness of open science and good data management practices
  • Enable students to understand how social science is governed and to navigate the processes of ethical review in academia and industry
  • Equip students to conduct survey research with an understanding of principles and practicalities
  • Assist students to evaluate emerging methods and assess the implications of developments in artificial intelligence for social research
  • Consider the merits of different formats of research dissemination and data visualisation

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the importance of literature searching and referencing to underpin robust social research C
002 Make use of appropriate reference management software PT
003 Understand the use of software to assist systematic literature review PT
004 Appreciate the potential merits of secondary data in social research CK
005 Show awareness of the principles of open research and of good data management practices CP
006 Understand the principles of research integrity and ethical governance CK
007 Understand the principles and practicalities of survey research CKPT
008 Critically evaluate the potential and challenges of emerging methods CK
009 Show appreciation of a range of different formats of research dissemination and data visualisation PT

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:

  • Encourage students to take an active approach to their learning, including contributing their own perspectives and experience in interactive classes and reflecting on their personal development in individual work.

  • Allow students to acquire knowledge on key principles that underpin social research and to work individually and collectively to evaluate those principles and apply them in their own research

  • Offer students access to an array of useful resources to underpin their research, including introduction to a range of data sources and software tools to aid key research tasks


The learning and teaching methods include a weekly two-hour session comprising lecture content, demonstrations, class discussion and hands-on practical experience with software providing the underpinning for individual learning. Each week’s topic will be introduced through an overview of the principles as applied in diverse contexts, using published and practical examples from an array of sources. Subject and skill experts will be invited to showcase relevant software and access to datasets and also to outline the institutional support available. Lecture-style overview and demonstration will be followed by interactive workshops or practical sessions, enabling students to discuss and critically evaluate principles, to develop experience with relevant software and to consider how to apply skills in their own situation. Group discussion will explore the challenges of open research in social science and the interpretation of ethical principles. Individual learning will focus on students developing insight into their skills gaps and applying learning to their own needs to address these gaps. An individual learning task will be set to follow on from each weekly topic.

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: SOCM078

Other information

The Department of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in digital capabilities, employability, global and cultural capabilities, resourcefulness and resilience and sustainability. The MSc programme in Social Research specifically develops these strengths with a view to preparing graduates for careers in social research. This module aims to develop students’ grasp of a set of key skills and awareness to underpin their future research. In particular, it supports students to develop in the following key areas.


Digital capabilities. Use of appropriate software and access to digital resources are essential for the contemporary social researcher. This module supports students to identify the appropriate resources to support their research and to assess the benefits and challenges that they bring.


Employability. The module aims to develop skills that are highly significant in the workplace for a social researcher, with a view to supporting research processes that are robust and have integrity.


Global and cultural capabilities. In exploring open research practices, the module addresses issues around equitable and open access to research products and the potential risks that ensue from inadequate attention to good data management practices and ethical concerns. The module thus prepares students to think of social research itself as operating within a field of power relations and of the need to act responsibly in relation to inequalities.


Resourcefulness and resilience. Students are encouraged to see themselves as engaged in a process of continual development of their skills and as needing to keep abreast of emerging developments.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research 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 2025/6 academic year.