The programme is designed to provide a fundamental grounding in both quantitative and qualitative research skills, along with the opportunity to specialise in more advanced training in quantitative research, qualitative research or in practical applications of research techniques.
Approaches to Social Research (20 CATS)
This module offers an introduction to the different styles of social science research as well as guidance and illustrations of how to operationalize research questions and assess them empirically. Students will be shown how to conduct systematic literature searches and how to manage empirical research projects. The module will also explore issues around the ethics of social science research as well as the connection between social science research and policy concerns. It is designed as preparation for undertaking postgraduate research and dissertation work.
Theory and Debates in Social Research (20 CATS)
This module aims to deepen students' understanding of key debates in social theory and research, providing advanced level teaching for those building upon basic knowledge and undertaking postgraduate research. It is designed to demonstrate and explore how social theory is utilised, critiqued and developed through the pursuit of social science research.
The Sources and Construction of Qualitative Data (10 CATS)
The purpose of this module is to illuminate the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research. The module will discuss the impact of various theories on the nature and conduct of qualitative research particularly around questions of epistemology and ontology. The role of different types of interviewing in qualitative research will be utilised in order to explore the relationship between theory and methods.
The Sources and Construction of Quantitative Data (10 CATS)
The aim of the module is to provide a comprehensive overview of the theory and practice of measurement and constructing quantitative data in the social sciences. Through lectures and practical exercises, this module will provide students with relevant knowledge of secondary data sources and large datasets, their respective uses and usefulness, and their relevance for the study of contemporary social issues
Qualitative Data Analysis (10 CATS)
The module will provide students with an overview of different approaches to qualitative data analysis. It will include introductory training to this skill that includes such techniques as thematic analysis and discourse analysis, as well as computer assisted qualitative data analysis. It will provide the knowledge necessary for the informed use of the qualitative data analysis software package NVivo. The module gives students a base level introduction to the analytical and technical skills in qualitative data analysis appropriate to the production of a Master's dissertation and/or use of CAQDAS software for social science research purposes.
Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational (10 CATS)
This module provides an introduction to the basics of quantitative data analysis. The module will begin with a brief review of basic univariate and bivariate statistical procedures as well as cover data manipulation techniques. The module is taught through a series of seminars and practical workshops. These two strands are interwoven within each teaching session. Please note that students may be granted an exemption from this module if they have already successfully completed a module that has the equivalent learning outcomes.
Quantitative Data Analysis: Intermediate (10 CATS)
This module advances students' confidence and knowledge in the use of SPSS. The module focuses on multivariate regression models, including the appropriate use and awareness of statistical assumptions underlying regression and the testing and refinement of such models.
Dissertation (60 CATS)
A dissertation of no more than 15,000 words on a topic relevant to social science research methods training. The thesis will involve either carrying out and reporting on a small social science research project which includes a full and considered description and discussion of the research methods employed or the discussion of a research issue or technique to a level appropriate for publication.
OPTIONAL MODULES (all 10 CATS)
We offer a range of advanced modules in quantitative and qualitative research methods, for example, logistic regression, internet-based research and visual research methods. We also provide specialist modules which reflect the teaching team's diverse research interests, from the social logic of emotional life to conflict and change in divided societies. Optional modules generally run during the Spring semester and are offered subject to sufficient student demand and staff availability. Students will be able to choose a maximum of three to four option modules (depending on whether they need to complete Quantitative Data Analysis: Foundational). Please note that it is unlikely that all the following modules will be available for 2017/8. Please check with the Programme Director for queries about specific modules.
Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
Building upon the core qualitative training, this module will explore one or more techniques of more advanced qualitative analysis. This may include such methods as ethnographic observation, interviewing, focus groups or biographical methods.
Social Science Research Online
The internet is a valuable tool in social science research - not just as a source of information but as a medium for recruiting research subjects and conducting research. This module looks at using the internet to find information, to identify populations and to conduct social research using methods such as online interviewing and online participant-observation.
Visual Research Methods
This course provides an introduction to visual methodologies, looking at different types of visual research and critically examines a range of visual methods and their uses with particular emphasis on photography and photo elicitation. The rationale for using visual methods will be explored along with its link to participatory research especially with children and young people. The course aims to engage and inspire participants to reflect on the relevance of applying visual methodologies to a range of research situations.
Social scientists are frequently interested in understanding change and stability over time. This module introduces a range of quantitative techniques for the analysis of longitudinal and repeated measures data that allows us to incorporate aspects of time into our research. We will discuss the rationale for examining measures over time and cover the unique issues involved with analysing longitudinal data. The objective of the module is to supply students with the necessary knowledge and skills to apply these methods to their own research; therefore the module will include hands-on practice analysing longitudinal data.
Advanced Quantitative Research Methods
Building upon the core quantitative training, this module will explore one or more techniques of more advanced quantitative analysis. Students will have the opportunity to further develop their knowledge and understanding of quantitative research methods and its application in addressing key research questions, drawing on recent survey data.
Conflict and Change in Northern Ireland: New Sociological Research
The objectives of this module are to introduce advanced students to key issues in contemporary research on conflict and change in divided societies, using Northern Ireland as a case study. It will examine critical sociological debates about identity, ethnicity, inequality, and conflict management, and interrogate their usefulness in a Northern Irish context. Emphasis will be placed on how Northern Ireland may conform to, or challenge, contemporary debates in theoretical and comparative sociology.
Researching Emotions and Social Life
This course aims to examine research on the social logic of emotional life. Emotions are considered not as personal or 'inner' psychological phenomena, but as sociological processes. The course focuses on studies which illustrate, in varying ways, how emotions are elicited through, and in turn shape, social relations, as they provide evaluative responses to the operation of power and status. The course will consider a range of classic and contemporary, structuralist and interactional perspectives informing studies of specific emotions, including shame, anger and love.
University Research and Civil Society Organisations
The purpose of this module is to provide students with an introduction to the fundamental principles of planning and conducting research that has a meaningful engagement with civil society. The goal of such research is to have an 'impact' that is beneficial to organisations working in the field, not only to the scholar her/himself. This module emphasises concepts and practical skills over disciplinary specificities. It will illustrate standards and good practice in research preparation and methods to ensure that these tools lead to meaningful relationships, mutual trust, productive outcomes, and sustained partnerships, as well as high quality research. It will ensure students will become confident in engaging with civil society organisations and considerate of the demands not just of research ethics but also of research engagement.