The University of Southampton

EDUC8017 Lifelong & Workplace Learning

Module Overview

Lifelong and work place learning broadens knowledge about methods of conducting social/educational research in which lifelong and workplace learning are the contexts for research. Approaches explored include workplace ethnographies, shadowing, participant observation, case studies, interviews, life course and life history, qualitative social networks, learning logs and diaries.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to broaden your awareness of and knowledge about methods of conducting social/educational research and you capacity to evaluate the strengths and limitations of different research approaches and methods. This will be achieved by focusing on the challenges and issues involved in researching lifelong and work-based learning.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand lifelong and workplace learning as contexts for research
  • Have an overview of the different ways of approaching research into lifelong and workplace learning and negotiating access
  • Critically assess the fitness of purpose of different research methods
  • Explore the potential of mixed qualitative method research designs
  • Analyse a range of examples of lifelong and workplace learning research
  • Make informed decisions about the relevance of the approaches and methods discussed to your own research


• The different ways in which studies of lifelong and workplace learning have been conceptualised (e.g. informal and non-formal learning, situated learning, communities of practice, learning through the lifecourse) and conducted • The purposes and characteristics of a range of approaches and methods, including workplace ethnographies, shadowing, participant observation, case studies, interviews, life course and life history, qualitative social networks, learning logs and diaries • Particular challenges associated with researching lifelong and workplace learning research, including identifying and collecting evidence of informal learning negotiating and securing access, and generalising from small scale studies

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

A series of interactive sessions with students feeding into the lectures from directed reading and participating in workshop style activities exploring existing examples of relevant research and identifying their strengths and weaknesses

Independent Study87
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Giele, J. and Elder, G. (eds) (1988). Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 

Wengraf, T. (2001). Qualitative Research Interviewing: Biographic Narrative and Semi-structured Methods. 

O’Reilly, K. (2005). Ethnographic Methods. 

Smith, V. (2001). Ethnographies of work and the work of ethnographers’, in P. Atkinson, A. Coffey, S. Delamont, J. Lofland and L. Lofland (eds) Handbook of Ethnography. 

Hodkinson, P. and Macleod, F. (2010). Contrasting Concepts of Learning and Contrasting Concepts Research Methodologies: affinities and bias’,. British Educational Research Journal. ,36 , pp. 173-89.

Antikainen, A., Houtsonen, J., Huotelin, H. and Kauppila, J. (1996). Living in a Learning Society: Lifehistories, Identities and Education. 

Heath, S., Fuller, A. and Johnston, B. (2009). Chasing shadows: defining network boundaries. Qualitative Research. ,9 , pp. pg. 1- 17.

Townsend, K. and Burgess, J. (eds) (2009). Method in Madness: Research Stories you won’t read in textbooks. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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