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The University of Southampton

EDUC6462 Principles of Education Research Design

Module Overview

This module provides a flexible, workshop-based approach to developing students’ awareness and understanding of the core elements of research design and practice, as well as the theoretical and philosophical principles that underpin the process of designing research studies appropriate for students conducting research projects at postgraduate level in Educational settings.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of the module is to provide opportunities to develop students’ understanding of the core elements of designing and implementing research that is systematic, robust and fit for purpose. This will include a deepening awareness of, and appreciation for the heritage of research design in a discipline as broad as Education, and the underpinning philosophical, theoretical and conceptual frameworks of research in the wider social sciences. Through engagement with this module students will have opportunities to develop foundational research skills which can be applied to their critical use of research evidence drawn from the existing knowledge base in Education research, as well as developing skills and understanding that inform the design and implementation of research projects that the students themselves plan to undertake.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • - demonstrate a critical understanding of the some of the main philosophical, theoretical and conceptual frameworks underpinning the nature of social science research;demonstrate a critical understanding of the some of the main philosophical, theoretical and conceptual frameworks underpinning the nature of social science research;
  • - describe the relationship between philosophical standpoints and the elements of research design and methodological strategies;
  • - identify a variety of social and political contexts and uses of research
  • - reflect on the origins, practices and impact of research;
  • - define and formulate research problems and research questions
  • - design key elements of a research project recognising the philosophical, methodological and practical demands of undertaking the project;
  • - identify and apply the key principles of research ethics to the design of research.


This module explores key theoretical and methodological issues in social science research, contrasting different ‘ways of knowing’. It is based on a conviction that social science is better served by researchers who can critically understand several methodologies, and their underpinning principles of reasoning. Students will have an opportunity to critically study pre-existing research and to discuss the relevance of social science research to real-world problems. This module deals with the practical challenges of research. In will equip students to design and undertake a research project. A list of key topics which will be covered are as follows: • defining research questions, • discussing philosophical and theoretical positions, • understanding the fundamentals of common research designs, • the relevance of social science research to real-world problems, • problematising the research focus, • identifying appropriate research methods, • research management and problem solving, • writing up research, • ethical issues, • presenting research and thinking reflexively about research.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module provides means for students to develop a proposal for a detailed proposal for a research project after attending core research training workshops focused the principles of research design and practice. The workshops will enable students to deepen their critical appreciation of research philosophies and designs used in the body of pre-existing research evidence as well as supporting the design and implementation of their own research projects in a more critical and informed way. To facilitate the flexible approach students will be required to register for and attend the relevant research skills development workshops (usually scheduled for a 4 hour half-day session) associated with the core principles of research design and practice. Each workshop will employ a range of teaching and learning methods. Group sizes are likely to be modest (no more that 25-30 students) and provide a mix of • whole-class lecture and discussion; • small group interactive discussion and activities; • hands-on practical tasks related to data collection and analysis. Where appropriate sessions will be supported by the use of appropriate assistive technologies and software tools for the purpose of data generation and/or analysis. Members of the student’s supervisory and/or programme team will provide additional tutorial support during the module, which will include discussing the focus for the module assignment and how it relates to the students’ individual research training needs and proposed research project.

Completion of assessment task45
Follow-up work20
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Practical classes and workshops10
Wider reading or practice90
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2011). Research methods in education. 

Blaikie, N. (2000). Designing Social Research. 

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

Moses, J. & Knutsen, T. (2007). Ways of Knowing. 

Robson, C. (2002). Real World Research. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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