MY400      Half Unit
Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alasdair Jones COL8.13


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Applied Social Data Science and MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Demography/Population Studies, MPhil/PhD in International Relations, MPhil/PhD in Social Policy, MPhil/PhD in Social Research Methods, MPhil/PhD in Sociology, MSc in Applied Social Data Science, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy 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 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 dissertations.


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 first assignment.

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%) and class participation (10%) in the MT.
Research design (60%) in the ST.

Research Proposal assignment (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: 69

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information