Researching London: Methods for Social Research

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

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 research design issues and a dynamic introduction to research methods 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 questionnaires, conducting qualitative interviews, ethnographic observation, and documentary and web based sources 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 kinds of data, using quantitative methods, grounded theory, and visual analysis.

- Be able to assess the different methodological strategies employed on the basis of measurement concepts such as reliability, validity and generalizability.

- Understand the ethical issues involved in social research.

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


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 good introductory textbook is Angela Dale and Jennifer Mason, Understanding Social Research: thinking creatively about method (2011): see also A Bryman, Social Research Methods (4th edn 2012). Other useful textbooks are R H Hoyle, M J Harris & C M Judd, Research Methods in Social Relations (7th edn 2002); D A de Vaus, Surveys in Social Research (5th edn 2001).


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 in class 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 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

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 18.8
2:1 60.7
2:2 12.5
Third 0.9
Fail 7.1

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2016/17: 37

Average class size 2016/17: 12

Capped 2016/17: No

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

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