Thinking Like a Social Scientist

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
19 May 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L219 Politics with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA L2M8 Politics with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA L2M9 Politics with Human Rights,
BA LFM9 Politics with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

The module provides an introduction to the philosophy and theory of (empirical social) science, its structure, and methods.

It asks questions such as "What is science?", "What is the scientific method?", "How is knowledge generated?", "How is scientific progress made?", or "How to do science?"

Introducing students to the basics of the scientific methods in the social sciences, allows them to understand better how to formulate research problems independently, identify and acquire the necessary additional methods skills within their degree program, and to conduct work that fulfills satisfactory standards of research quality.

This not only pertains to students' classes during the second and third academic year or their capstone dissertation but also provides them with a solid foundation for potential postgraduate studies or employment in research-related jobs.

Module aims

This module seeks to enable students to assess scientific logic and assumptions, evaluate scientific theories and empirical evidence, and build intuition for good research designs.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module the students will have achieved the following:

1. Gained an understanding of the basic issues in research design and philosophy of science.
2. Learnt how to construct a scientific explanation (research question, theory-building, hypotheses).
3. Understood how to empirically evaluate scientific theories.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught over 2 hours per week


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   Online Quiz 1    13.33% 
Coursework   Online Quiz 2    13.33% 
Coursework   Online Quiz 3    13.34% 
Coursework   Reassessment without attendance 2022-23 ONLY IF REQUIRED BY EXAM BOARD     
Coursework   Final Paper     60% 

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 Jimena Vazquez Garcia, email: j.vazquezgarcia@essex.ac.uk.
Module Supervisor: TBC (TBC@essex.ac.uk) / Module Administrator: Jasini Hobbs(govquery@essex.ac.uk)



External examiner

Dr Max Gallop
University of Strathclyde
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

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