MY500      Half Unit
Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alasdair Jones COL8.12


This course is compulsory on the MRes/PhD in Management (Employment Relations and Human Resources), MRes/PhD in Management (Information Systems and Innovation) and MRes/PhD in Management (Organisational Behaviour). This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Cities Programme, MPhil/PhD in Economic Geography, MPhil/PhD in Environmental Policy and Development, MPhil/PhD in Health Policy and Health Economics, MPhil/PhD in Human Geography and Urban Studies, MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning Studies and MPhil/PhD in Social Research Methods. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is available to all research students.

Course content

Research design necessitates trade-offs between the strengths and weaknesses of different feasible options.  This course aims to introduce the broad range of design options and to foster an appreciation of these alternatives for particular research objectives.  Drawing on a variety of examples from the social scientific literature, this course will explore design considerations and options across quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research, including issues of data quality, analysis, reporting and reproducibility.  At the end of the course, students will be able to read a wide variety of empirical social science with a critical and balanced perspective and will be better equipped to implement and make arguments defending the methods they use in their PhD theses.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT.

Week 6 is a Reading Week during which students work independently on their formative assignments.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise in the MT.

Indicative reading

Robson, Colin and McCartan, Kieran (2015, 4th edition). Real World Research. London: John Wiley.


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

Research Proposal (1500 words), submitted in week 11 of MT (30%).  Research Design (4000 words), submitted in Week 1 of ST (60%).

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2018/19: 6

Average class size 2018/19: 4

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information