Module code: SOCM079

Module Overview

Social researchers work in a variety of settings to produce robust, reliable and timely information about the social world. Some of this research is designed to fill a gap in knowledge or respond to a social challenge with actionable insights into the nature of the challenge or underlying mechanisms. Other forms of social research aim to provide an evaluation of an existing policy or practice, judge value for money of an investment or explore the effectiveness of an intervention. This module enables students to appreciate the variety of ways in which social research interfaces with problems in real world policy and practice, to develop the necessary skills to communicate in this territory and to learn about the specific techniques that are used in evaluation research.

Module provider


Module Leader


Number of Credits: 30

ECTS Credits: 15

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 20

Independent Learning Hours: 220

Lecture Hours: 20

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 20

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Communication and social research

  • Public and stakeholder engagement 

  • Types of evaluation: process/formative and impact/summative

  • Evaluation research designs: quantitative and qualitative approaches

  • Causality in social systems: the contribution claim problem

  • Randomised control trials

  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs

  • Comparative research designs

  • Measuring inputs, outputs and outcomes

  • The nature of evidence and evidence based policy

  • The nature of evidence bases across policy domains and the contribution of evaluation research to these

  • Proposal writing and project management– scheduling tools, resource planning, gantt charts, reporting formats

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Group presentation (20 minute presentation plus Q and A) 40
Coursework Research proposal responding to a real-world brief 60

Alternative Assessment

Where a student is unable to participate in a group presentation, the alternative assessment will comprise a 10 minute individual recorded presentation, assessing learning outcomes 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Assessment Strategy

  The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate an appreciation of the role of social research in relation to real-world challenges and of the potential of evaluation research within evidence-based policy and practice.


  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A group presentation focusing on a critical appraisal of an evaluation research report (learning outcomes 5, 6, 7 and 8)

  • individual report outlining a research proposal responding to a real-world brief. The briefs to choose from will be drawn from issues identified by visiting speakers from a variety of social research settings. The report should comprise an executive summary for a non-social science audience outlining the proposed approach, rationale for the approach proposed and resource implications, together with a technical appendix appropriately referenced with academic literature giving the details of the proposed research (learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9).


  Formative assessment

Students will be allocated class time to prepare for the group presentation and given verbal formative feedback as their plans develop. Students will be invited to discuss their individual reports in class and given verbal formative feedback by lecturer and their peers.



Verbal formative feedback will be offered in class settings as outlined above. Written feedback will be given via SurreyLearn for summative assessments. For group presentation feedback will cover both content and presentational issues. For individual report, feedback will focus on strengths and weakness with a view to providing developmental advice applicable in future research proposals.

Module aims

  • Increase students¿ awareness of the variety of ways in which social research interfaces with real world challenges
  • Develop students¿ appreciation of the communication needs of different audiences
  • Develop student¿s appreciation of the various forms of public and stakeholder engagement in social research
  • Foster students¿ understanding of the policy process
  • Introduce students to the principles of evaluation research
  • Explore the main theoretical, methodological and practical issues associated with designing and implementing quantitative and qualitative evaluations
  • Enable students to consider the significance of evidence-based research in shaping practice and policy and the contribution of evaluation research within the policy process
  • Foster students¿ understanding of how evaluation research can contribute to evidence-based approaches

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand a variety of ways in which social research interfaces with real world challenges C
002 Appreciate the communication needs of different audiences CPT
003 Know about various forms of public and stakeholder engagement in social research CK
004 Understand the policy process and the role played in it by social research CK
005 Understand the principles of evaluation research CK
006 Understand key theories and methods relating to evaluations and the practical issues that shape them CP
007 Understand the role played by evaluation within the policy process CP
008 Understand how evaluation research contributes to evidence-based policy CP
009 Apply an understanding of evidence-based policy and evaluation in a response to a real-world brief CKPT

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 think critically about the varied ways in which social research engages with real-world challenges including evaluation and evidence-based approaches, and to develop their technical skills and communication skills in this context.


The learning and teaching methods include:

lectures and workshops that features group work and open discussions. Visiting speakers from a variety of settings including government social research, commercial organizations, non-profit organizations and social research organizations will be invited to give presentations and engage with students to develop their appreciation of the opportunities and challenges of social research in these contexts.


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: SOCM079

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.


Employability. The module focuses centrally on the development of skills that are needed in the workplace for a social researcher, with a view to supporting research that is robust, responsive and effectively communicated.


Global and cultural capabilities. This module focuses on preparing students to develop research that responds to a variety of forms of social challenge across different global and cultural contexts.


Resourcefulness and resilience. Students are encouraged to see themselves as engaged in a process of continual development of their skills and as needing to adapt their communication styles in response to the needs of diverse audiences.


Sustainability. Policy to support moves towards sustainability needs to be rooted in a robust understanding of the social world and of the impact of interventions made in this space. This module equips students with the technical and communication skills to design research, and to produce, evaluate and communicate evidence in the interests of achieving sustainability goals.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research MSc 2 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.