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The University of Southampton

EDUC6353 Understanding Education Research

Module Overview

Educational research is a wide-ranging field that draws upon many different disciplines and methodologies. This introductory module aims to help you navigate this complex field by providing an overview of the common paradigms and methodologies that you are likely to encounter in educational research. The module enables you to find, read, and critically appraise educational research conducted by others. The module also provides you with opportunities to practice relevant skills (e.g. searching for research literature, critical reading and writing, creating an academic poster) while discussing ideas with your peers. The module has a mix of plenary lecture sessions and smaller seminar groups led by a team of tutors.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and situate research in the field of education.
  • Present the findings of research to peers and tutors
  • Provide formative feedback to your peers
  • Understand the philosophies that underpin education research
  • Evaluate the dominant research designs and methodologies in education
  • Interpret and critique research in the field of education
  • Identify and evaluate the main paradigms of research in education
  • Identify and use the main bibliographic databases for finding educational research
  • Critically read and evaluate educational research articles and reports
  • Reflect on your own assumptions about educational research
  • Engage in discussions and debates about educational research with your peers and tutors


The content of the module will typically cover: - Searching for education research - Criticality and reflection in reading and writing about education research - Recognising the underpinning philosophical perspectives for research designs - Reliability and validity in research - Identifying and critiquing research questions in published research - Constructing a critical analysis of published research - Presenting research

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and learning methods will include lectures and seminars that involve group discussions and activities, poster presentations, and self-directed study. Self-directed study means that most of the study time for this module takes place outside the lectures and seminars; this is one of the hallmarks of Masters level study. You are responsible for undertaking further reading and searching out articles and books that are of interest and relevance to you and tutors will make suggestions for further reading. Reading for the module is divided these into three categories: Essential, Extra, and Exceptional. - The Essential further reading is exactly what the term implies - core reading that you really must do in order to consolidate and extend the themes and ideas introduced in the lectures. - The Extra reading is that which will benefit your understanding by extending your understanding a bit further; this will always be in addition to the Essential reading and you may want to dip into these as time allows. - The Exceptional reading (additional to both Essential and Extra) is for those of you who really want to push yourselves; this reading will deal with more complex, nuanced and higher-level arguments about the topics being studied. In addition to the suggested reading there is likely to be some 'homework' from the lecture sessions that we want you to work on, read and prepare for the following week. You must come to the session prepared so that you can engage in the activities and discussions that will take place.

Follow-up work20
Wider reading or practice50
Independent Study70
Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Punch, K. & Oancea, A. (2014). Introduction to research methods in education. 

Additional info. There are two main texts that we recommend students choose between. Note that earlier editions of these texts are also fine to use though the exact content of chapters may differ from the guidance below, which is based on the most recent edition. Note that the first edition of "Introduction to research methods in education" is by Punch only.

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2018). Research methods in education. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Academic poster  (1000 words) 25%
Written assessment  (3000 words) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Academic poster  (1000 words) 25%
Written assessment 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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