Sociological Research Design

The details
Colchester Campus
Autumn & Spring
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 22 March 2024
26 May 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA NP5312 Advertising, Marketing and the Media,
MA NP5324 Advertising, Marketing and the Media,
MA NP53MO Advertising, Marketing and the Media,
MA M90012 Criminology,
MA M90024 Criminology,
MSC L30812 Criminology and Socio-Legal Research,
MSC L30824 Criminology and Socio-Legal Research,
MA MF9112 Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security,
MA MF9124 Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security,
MSC MF9012 Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security,
MSC MF9024 Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security,
MA L30112 Sociological Research Methods,
MA L30124 Sociological Research Methods,
MA L30012 Sociology,
MA L30024 Sociology,
MA L31112 Migration Studies,
MA L31124 Migration Studies,
MA L31812 Sociology and Criminology,
MA L31824 Sociology and Criminology,
MPHDML9048 Criminology,
PHD ML9048 Criminology,
MSOCM999 Criminology,
MSOCMX98 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCMX99 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
MSOCL399 Sociology,
MSOCLA40 Sociology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCLA41 Sociology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This is a foundation module on sociological research for postgraduate students. It introduces the relationship between contemporary theory and empirical inquiry, and emphasises the research design process from identifying research questions to choosing appropriate methodology and methods. It examines some key assumptions and ideological underpinnings of social research, including qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches and their uses in a variety of design contexts. It is intended to provide students with a critical understanding of the process and complexity of doing research, and facilitate the design of their own social research also in preparation for their Master's dissertation.

Module aims

The module aims to:

- Explore different theoretical and methodological approaches in social research;
- Provide students with an understanding of the complexities of designing a coherent social research project;
- Equip students with the skill to critically review the methodological strategies used by other social researchers;
- Equip students with the ability to formulate researchable questions and design a feasible and appropriate research strategy.

Module learning outcomes

Learning outcomes:

- Gain a solid understanding of the key language and components of social research;
- Develop reflexive skills and being able to historically situate oneself vis-à-vis the chosen research topic;
- Be able to write a coherent, feasible, sociologically relevant and sound research proposal.

Module information

Module topic list

Autumn Term

Session 1 - week 2 Situating Sociological Enquiry

Session 2 - week 3 Ways of Knowing: Ontology, Epistemology and Positionality

Session 3 - week 4 Concepts, Theory and Hypothesis

Session 4 - week 5 Types, Forms and Sources of Data I

Session 5 - week 6 Types, Forms and Sources of Data II

Session 6 - week 7 Methodology and Methods

Session 7 - week 8 Sampling and Access

Session 8 - week 9 Research Ethics I

Session 9 - week 10 Research Ethics II: Focus on Digital Research

Spring Term

Session 10 - week 18 Identifying your research problem and formulating your research question.

Learning and teaching methods

Most modules at postgraduate level in Sociology are taught as a 2hr seminar. Most classes, labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing allows this). There may also be some online activities – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your seminar/class each week. Please note that you should be spending up to ten hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 30 hours in total for three 20--credit modules). This module, SC905, will include a range of activities to help you and your teachers to check your understanding and progress. These include: group discussions, reading-based questions, web quests, and group presentations. You are strongly encouraged to attend the seminars as they provide an opportunity to talk with your teacher and other students. The seminars will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these seminars it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of seminars is at the discretion of the teacher.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Reflexive positionality exercise  13/11/2023  15% 
Coursework   Methodology Review  11/12/2023  35% 
Coursework   Research proposal  18/03/2024  50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Isabel Crowhurst, email:
Dr Isabel Crowhurst



External examiner

Prof Benjamin Bradford
University College London
Available via Moodle
Of 59 hours, 57 (96.6%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
2 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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