Researching London: Advanced Social Research Methods

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sam Friedman STC. S216

Dr Ioanna Gouseti STC.S105a


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course will provide students with a first understanding of social research design and analysis of social research data. It involves a dynamic introduction to a range of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, through practical exercises in the context of London’s social life.

By the end of the course students will:

- Understand the key role of research design for conducting original empirical social research. In particular, taking into account relevant extant literature, they will develop a research question of their own interest and identify appropriate research method(s) to address it.

- Have engaged with practical research strategies and methods including the design of interview guides and survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative interviews, ethnographic observation, and a survey in the context of London.

- Have a sense of the urban sociology of London and a first-hand experience of its potential for exploring contemporary social issues.

- Be able to analyse different types of data, using a range of methods, such as thematic analysis in the case of qualitative data and regression analysis in the case of quantitative data.

- Be able to assess the quality of employed methodologies on the basis of formal criteria, such as reliability, validity and generalizability.

- Understand the ethical issues involved in social research.

- Have developed a research proposal which will strengthen their dissertation design, and might inform their dissertation topic.


25 hours of workshops in the MT. 25 hours of workshops in the LT.

Reading weeks: week 6 MT and week 6 LT.

Formative coursework

There are two pieces of formative assessment which will be marked and on which you will get feedback in the Michaelmas Term (MT). 

Indicative reading

A. Agresti & B. Finlay (2008) Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences. 4th edition. Pearson.

Bryman, A. (2014). Social research methods, 4th edition. Oxford University Press.

Converse, J. M., & Presser, S. (1986). Survey questions: Handcrafting the standardized questionnaire (No. 63). Sage.

Davidson, O’Connell, J., (2008). “If no means no, does yes mean yes? Consenting toresearch intimacies.”, History of the Human Sciences, 21(4), 49-67.

Duneier, M. (2006). “Ethnography, the Ecological Fallacy, and the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave.” American Sociological Review, 71(4), 679–88.

Ingram, N. (2011). Within school and beyond the gate: The complexities of being educationally successful and working class. Sociology, 45(2), 287-302.

O'Reilly, K. (2004). Ethnographic methods. London, New York: Routledge.

Savage, M., & Burrows, R. (2007). The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology. Sociology : The Journal of the British Sociological Association, 41(5), 885-899.

Tourangeau, R., Rips, Lance J, & Rasinski, Kenneth A. (2000). The psychology of surveyresponse. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Essay (20%, 1500 words) and presentation (30%) in the LT.
Research proposal (50%) in the ST.

Two hard copies of each assessment, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the submission day. The first assessment, a qualitative interview transcript and 1,500 word essay (20%), is due by the first Thursday of Lent Term. The second assessment, a group presentation (15 slides maximum) based on the agreed group survey (30%), will be carried out in Lent Term. Each group presentation will be marked by both the course convenor and the group GTAs, who will then discuss and moderate marks after all the group presentations took place. Marks will take into account the work done by each group in the previous six weeks (questionnaire design, survey data collection and data analysis) as well as the clarity of the presentation itself. The third assessment, a 1,500-2,000 word research proposal (50%), is due by the second Thursday of Summer Term. An additional copy of each essay is to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day each assessment is due. Attendance at all workshops and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 16.1
2:1 67
2:2 13.4
Third 0.9
Fail 2.7

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2017/18: 34

Average class size 2017/18: 12

Capped 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills