A key skill of a social scientist is to be able to assess the quality of evidence presented based on strong methodological foundations. We need to understand what constitutes evidence, including how it can be produced, agreed, disputed, disseminated and misrepresented. In the era of sharing ‘facts’ on social media and ‘fake news’ it is vital that an appreciation of how evidence and expert opinion is developed. Everybody can seem like an expert on social media, but the ability to examine and evaluate the statements made is a skill that can be developed. Expertise is learnt through a grounding in evidence and understanding which evidence is sound and which is not. All social science researchers need the ability to judge the quality of research, both for academic research and in the wider world.
The module will follow on from the Semester 1 module ‘Understanding the Social World’ and explore issues around the generation and presentation of evidence. This will include assessing the quality of social science data, as well as further exploration of both qualitative and quantitative methods to obtain and analyse data. This module forms the basis to move to more detailed methodological training in future years of study.