Research Methods for Social Policy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Amanda Sheely OLD.2.52


This course is compulsory on the BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy and Economics and BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

The course aims to give students a comprehensive introduction to designing and carrying out research in social policy.

By the end of the course students should:

1. Be familiar with the stages of the research process and different approaches to social policy research.

2. Appraise different methods and their appropriateness to particular questions.

3. Be able to conduct and clearly present the results of basic analyses of quantitative and qualitative data.

4. Understand the ethical issues involved in conducting research.


The course combines two elements:

SA201.2 Research Methods for Social Policy: Dr A. Sheely

SA201.1 Data Analysis for Social Policy: Dr A. Sheely  

Courses in Social Policy will follow the Teaching Model which has been adopted by the Department of Social Policy during the period of the pandemic. This is outlined HERE: https://www.lse.ac.uk/social-policy/Current-Students/teaching-in-the-department-of-social-policy

This course will be taught through a combination of either a recorded lecture plus a follow-up Q and A session or a ‘live’ on-line lecture; and classes/seminars of 1-1.5 hours (with size and length of classes/seminars depending on social distancing requirements).

Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the MT and 1 presentation and 1 essay in the LT.

The three formative assessments for the course are condensed components of the final summative coursework.

The first formative includes completing an ethics form for the qualitative component of the study, as well as drafting an interview guide that students will use in their interviews. 

In the second formative, students will create and present a poster that outlines the design of their qualitative research study, including an overview of the literature, their research question, sampling and data collection strategies, and ethical considerations. This assessment includes both turning in the poster, as well as a verbal presentation where students will answer questions about their studies.

The last formative is a 500 word essay where students will present and interpret their quantitative regression results.

Indicative reading

Marilyn Lichtman (2014) Qualitative Research for the Social Sciences. Sage Publications. 

Robert de Vries. (2018) Critical Statistics: Seeing Beyond the Headlines. Macmillan International.

Alan Acock (2016) A Gentle Introduction to Stata, 5th edition. Stata Press.



Project (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Students will design and carry out a small mixed-methods research study related to a given topic.

In the essay, students will describe and justify the their choice of research methods for both the qualitative and quantitative components of the project (research question, sampling, data collection, data analysis, and ethical considerations).

The assignment also includes the presentation and discussion of results from the research study. The assignment is due in ST 

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2020/21: 53

Average class size 2020/21: 7

Capped 2020/21: Yes (60)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills