MY400      Half Unit
Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design

This information is for the 2024/25 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Jonathan Jackson


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 Social Policy, MPhil/PhD in Social Research Methods, MPhil/PhD in Sociology, MSc in Applied Social Data Science, MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Statistics (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is not controlled access. If you register for a place and meet the prerequisites, if any, you are likely to be given a place.

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. 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.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Autumn Term.

This course has a Reading Week in Week 6 of AT.

Formative coursework

A project outline (1-2 pages long) that sets up a research question that the students will develop in their summative assignment.

Indicative reading

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


Research proposal (100%) in the WT.

Students can base their research proposal (3000 words) on a dimension of their dissertation topic subject to the approval of their home department.


Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2023/24: 114

Average class size 2023/24: 14

Controlled access 2023/24: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.