Researching Social Life I

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
26 May 2023


Requisites for this module


SC202, SC203, SC208

Key module for

BA M900 Criminology,
BA M901 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA M903 Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA M904 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCM999 Criminology,
MSOCMX98 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCMX99 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA L3C8 Criminology with Social Psychology,
BA L3H8 Criminology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA LHC8 Criminology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA MV91 History and Criminology,
BA MV92 History and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA MV98 History and Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA MV9C History and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV31 History and Sociology,
BA LV32 History and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA LV38 History and Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV3C History and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LQ31 English Language and Sociology,
BA LP33 Media and Digital Culture,
BA LP34 Media and Digital Culture (including Placement Year),
BA P300 Media and Digital Culture (including Foundation Year),
BA PL33 Media and Digital Culture (including Year Abroad),
BA CL83 Sociology with Social Psychology,
BA CL93 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA CLV3 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA L2CH Social Sciences,
BA LFCH Social Sciences,
BA L300 Sociology,
BA L301 Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA L304 Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA L306 Sociology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCL399 Sociology,
MSOCLA40 Sociology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCLA41 Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LM38 Sociology and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA LM39 Sociology and Criminology,
BA LMH9 Sociology and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LMHX Sociology and Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA LL23 Sociology and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL24 Sociology and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LL32 Sociology and Politics,
BA L3J9 Sociology with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA L3M9 Sociology with Human Rights,
BA LMJ9 Sociology with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA LCJ8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA LJ8C Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA LJC8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies,
BA LL36 Social Anthropology,
BA LL3P Social Anthropology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL6P Social Anthropology (Including Placement Year),
BA P550 Journalism and Criminology,
BA P551 Journalism and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA P552 Journalism and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA P540 Journalism and Sociology,
BA P541 Journalism and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA P542 Journalism and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC L315 Sociology (Applied Quantitative Research),
BSC L316 Sociology (Applied Quantitative Research) (Including Year Abroad),
BSC L317 Sociology (Applied Quantitative Research) (Including Placement Year),
BA L333 Criminology with Counselling Skills,
BA L334 Criminology with Counselling Skills (Including Year Abroad),
BA L335 Criminology with Counselling Skills (Including Placement Year),
BA LM11 Criminology with Criminal Law,
BA LM12 Criminology with Criminal Law (Including Year Abroad),
BA LM13 Criminology with Criminal Law (Including Placement Year),
BA L330 Sociology with Counselling Skills (Including Placement Year),
BA L331 Sociology with Counselling Skills (Including Year Abroad),
BA L332 Sociology with Counselling Skills,
BSC L310 Sociology with Data Science,
BSC L311 Sociology with Data Science (including Year Abroad),
BSC L312 Sociology with Data Science (including Placement Year),
BSC L313 Sociology with Data Science (including foundation Year),
BA L350 Sociology and Health,
BA L351 Sociology and Health (including Foundation Year),
BA L352 Sociology and Health (including Placement Year),
BA L353 Sociology and Health (including Year Abroad)

Module description

How do sociologists investigate the social world? What tools and methods do they employ to ensure their research claims are relevant? How can you interpret their findings? This module will help you to answer these key questions. The module provides introductory training in research design and the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. The Autumn term will focus on qualitative research, whilst the Spring term focuses on quantitative research.

Upon completion of the module students will be able to approach their studies and the materials they use with a more developed 'critical eye' and some practical skills. Students will be introduced to the nuts and bolts of social investigation, and through practical labs will gain expertise in referencing, using archives and preparing professional reports reliant on social data.

Module aims

The module aims to:

To introduce students to the social research process

To give students the tools to evaluate the strengths and limitations of different approaches to sociological research

To highlight the importance of research ethics in social research

To teach students how they can find existing qualitative and quantitative datasets and archives

To provide practical hands-on sessions that will help students to develop their research, study and employability skills

To develop students’ communication and critical appraisal skills

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

recognise the key stages of a social research project

apply ethical principles to social research

find relevant secondary sociological data sources

identify the key features of qualitative and quantitative data

evaluate the strengths and limitations of different methodological tools for sociological research

recognise how different types of research data can be collected, analysed and presented

critically assess the connections between theory and research

Module information

Week 2 Introduction to the social research process (KW)
Week 3 Introduction to qualitative research (KW)
Week 4 Conducting a literature search and recognising credible sources (KW)
Week 5 Ethics and social research (KW)
Week 6 Ethics and digital social research (KW/IC tbc)
Week 7 Qualitative methods: Primary research (IC)
Week 8 Qualitative methods: Secondary research (IC)
Week 9 Qualitative archives (IC)
Week 10 Exploring the archives (IC)
Week 11 Employability session (run by Careers staff)

Week 16 Fundamentals of Quantitative Data Analysis: Research Questions
Week 17 Sampling and Ethics of Data Collection
Week 18 Survey Research Designs
Week 19 Describing and Summarizing Quantitative Data
Week 20 Reading Week
Week 21 Decolonizing Research Methods Practical
Week 22 Questionnaire Design
Week 23 Experimental Research
Week 24 The UK Data Service and Looking for Data
Week 25 Literature Reviews and Basic Elements of Quantitative Research Reports

This module is part of the Q-Step pathway. Q-Step is an award which you can gain simply by enrolling on specific modules and will signal to employers your capability in quantitative research. Learn more about the Q-Step pathway and enhance your degree now.

Learning and teaching methods

Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab. Lectures, classes, labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face. Please note that you should be spending up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 32 hours in total for four 30-credit modules).

This module, SC101-4-FY will be taught via a combination of lectures and classes. Please do spend some time familiarising yourself with the Moodle page as there are lots of activities and resources available here to support your learning on this module.

The lectures will provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. You should always complete the reading before you attend the class.

You are strongly encouraged to attend your classes as they will provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students about any questions you have. The classes will be recorded and available for you via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of classes is at the discretion of the teacher.


  • Sinclair, Gary; Green, Todd. (2016-01) 'Download or stream? Steal or buy? Developing a typology of today's music consumer', in Journal of Consumer Behaviour. vol. 15 (1) , pp.3-14
  • Di Ronco, Anna; Allen-Robertson, James; South, Nigel. (2019-03) 'Representing environmental harm and resistance on Twitter: The case of the TAP pipeline in Italy', in Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal. vol. 15 (1) , pp.143-168
  • Laurie, Charles. (2016) 'How to find a representative sample', in Doing real research: a practical guide to social research, London: SAGE., pp.87-111
  • (2014) Demonstration Qualitative Interview - how it should be done.
  • Goffman, Alice. (2014) 'Introduction', in On the Run: The University of Chicago Press., pp.1-8
  • Flick, Uwe. (2015) 'Why Social Research?', in Introducing research methodology: a beginner's guide to doing a research project, London: SAGE.
  • Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi. (2008) 'How Does it Feel to be Black and Poor?', in Gang leader for a day: a rogue sociologist takes to the streets, New York: Penguin Press.
  • Bonilla-Silva, E.; Zuberi, T. (2008) 'Toward a De?nition of White Logic and White Methods', in White logic, white methods: Racism and methodology, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield., pp.3-31
  • Barbour, Rosaline S. (2008) 'Chapter 9: Analysis Groundwork Storing, Coding and Retrieving Data', in Introducing qualitative research: a student guide to the craft of doing qualitative research, London: Sage Publications., pp.191-214
  • Heath, Anthony F.; Di Stasio, Valentina. (2019-12) 'Racial discrimination in Britain, 1969–2017: a meta-analysis of field experiments on racial discrimination in the British labour market', in The British Journal of Sociology. vol. 70 (5) , pp.1774-1798
  • Bryman, Alan. (2016) Social research methods, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fink, Arlene; SMRO. (2002) How to ask survey questions, London: SAGE. vol. 2
  • Flick, Uwe. (2014) An introduction to qualitative research, London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • (2014) 'Has multiculturalism failed in Britain?', in Ethnic and Racial Studies: Taylor & Francis. vol. 37 (1) , pp.161-180
  • (2016) 'The Ethics of Social Research', in Researching social life, London: SAGE.
  • de Vries, Robert. (2018) 'What does it mean to be average?', in Critical Statistics: Macmillan Education UK., pp.91-110
  • Lofland, John. (2006) Data Logging in Observation; Fieldnotes, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth., pp.108-117
  • Lancee, Bram. (2019-06-24) 'Ethnic discrimination in hiring: comparing groups across contexts. Results from a cross-national field experiment', in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies., pp.1-20
  • Wheeler, Kathryn. (2012) 'The Practice of Fairtrade Support', in Sociology. vol. 46 (1) , pp.126-141
  • Babbie, Earl R. (2016) The practice of social research, Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  • Flick, Uwe. (2014) 'Qualitative Content Analysis', in The Sage handbook of qualitative data analysis, London: Sage.
  • (2014) 01 Sampling What is Sampling.
  • Reichel, David; Morales, Laura. (2017) 'Surveying immigrants without sampling frames – evaluating the success of alternative field methods', in Comparative Migration Studies. vol. 5 (1)
  • Flick, Uwe. (2007) 'Qualitative Research Designs', in Designing qualitative research, London: SAGE.
  • Yeo, A. et al. (2014) 'In-depth interviews', in Qualitative research practice: a guide for social science students and researchers, London: SAGE.
  • (no date) Pioneers of Qualitative Research: Thematic extracts from Leonore Davidoff interview.
  • Hochschild, Arlie Russell. (2016) 'Preface', in Strangers in their own land: anger and mourning on the American right, New York: New Press., pp.1-4
  • (2014) Demo qualitative interview with mistakes.
  • Howells, Stephanie. (2016) 'How to do focus groups: Making the most of group processes', in The how to of qualitative research, London: SAGE., pp.117-138
  • (no date) Pioneers of Qualitative Research: Thematic extracts from interview with Margaret Stacey.
  • Becker, Howard S. (1967) 'Whose Side Are We On?', in Social Problems. vol. 14 (3) , pp.239-247
  • O'Leary, Zina. (2017) 'Reviewing Literature', in The essential guide to doing your research project, ©2017: SAGE Publications., pp.94-113
  • Fink, Arlene. (2003) 'What is a Survey? When do you use one?', in The survey handbook, London: SAGE. vol. 1, pp.1-29
  • Arthur, Charles. (June 30, 2014) 'Facebook emotion study breached ethical guidelines, researchers say', in The Guardian.
  • Foster, Liam. (2014) Beginning Statistics: Sage Publications Ltd.
  • British Election Study Ethnic Minority Survey, 2010,!/details
  • Zheng, Tiantian. (2009) Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Clarke, Victoria. (2013) 'Ten Fundamentals of qualitative research', in Successful qualitative research: a practical guide for beginners, London: SAGE.
  • Thomas, Gary. (2017) How to do your research project: a guide for students in education and applied social sciences, London: SAGE Publications.
  • Kumar, Ranjit. (2019) Research methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners, Los Angeles: SAGE.

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 Moodle quiz (week 4)    5.00% 
Coursework   Online Moodle Quiz (week 18)     10% 
Coursework   End of module Moodle Quiz (week 32)     15.00% 
Coursework   Ethics reading review of 1000 words    15% 
Coursework   Archive data exercise     20% 
Coursework   Spring Term Research Report Plan    10% 
Coursework   Spring term Research Report    25% 

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 Zsofia Boda, email:
Prof Renee Luthra, email:
Professor Renee Luthra & Dr Zsofia Boda
Email: socugrad



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 675 hours, 372 (55.1%) hours available to students:
303 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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