MY400      Half Unit
Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jonathan Jackson COL.8.08


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available on the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Gender (Research) and MSc in Statistics (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Research students please see MY500.

Course content

Research design can be considered as a form of problem oriented practical scholarship. It is one of the key components in the empirical social scientific study of social issues. Design is the means to provide relevant information on a research question in an efficient way that meets the criteria of public accountability, in the sense of openness to public scrutiny. Any research design is characterised by both opportunities and constraints, and the selection of the optimal design is always a trade off between the strengths and weaknesses of different options, viewed in the context of feasibility. Drawing on a variety of examples from the social scientific literature, this course will explore design considerations and options, issues of data quality and analysis, and reporting. The broad aims of the course are to: increase awareness of the role of research design in the social sciences; introduce a range of design options; and foster an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of the different options for particular research objectives. At the end of the course, students will be able to bring a more critical reading to the literature and have acquired a basic knowledge of social research design as a contribution to their dissertations.


20 hours of lectures and 7 hours of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Indicative reading

Key texts: Robson, Colin (2011, 3rd edition). Real World
Research. London: John Wiley.
D Della Porta ; M Keating, Approaches and Methodologies in the Social
Sciences: A Pluralist Perspective (Cambridge, 2008).


Research proposal (30%) in the MT.
Research proposal (60%) in the ST.
Class participation (10%).

Provisional Research Design (1000 words), submitted in week 8 MT (30%).  Students will receive feedback in LT. Final Outline Research Design (5000 words), submitted in ST (60%).

Student performance results

(2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 33.3
Merit 56.4
Pass 7.7
Fail 2.6

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2012/13: 39

Average class size 2012/13: 7

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 99%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)