Researching Society


Principles and practice of social science research methods.


The aims of this module are to equip students with an understanding of the importance of empirical research to the social sciences. It will provide students with the skills and capabilities to identify and use appropriate data collection tools, apply analysis techniques to data generated and reflect upon their meaning, relevance and ethical implications. In acquiring these skills and capabilities, students will be well-placed to engage with and carry out social research.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Understand the principles of statistical analysis and quantitative data collection.

2.  Carry out basic statistical tests on quantitative data and identify the appropriate context for their application.

3.  Apply qualitative data collection techniques and reflect upon their appropriateness to different research scenarios.

4.  Demonstrate the ability to devise and critically apply an inductive coding framework to qualitative data.

Indicative Content

1 Principles of quantitative research

The first part of the module will introduce students to the elements of statistical data, how quantitative data is collected, structured and presented, how inferences and conclusions can be drawn through the application of basic statistical tests and how SPSS software can facilitate the organization and analysis of quantitative data.

2 Qualitative data collection skills

The second part of the module will provide an overview of an array of qualitative data-collection methods, how such techniques are applicable in an array of different ways to different research contexts and how students should reflect upon themselves as active participants in these kinds of research endeavours.

3 Approaches to qualitative data analysis

The latter half of the module also provides opportunities for students to engage in the analysis of data produced using qualitative data collection techniques. The main emphasis here will be on thematic coding and how qualitative researchers use sociological knowledge to inductive derive systematic meaning from the data they generate. This part of the module will also introduce students to the use of NVivo computer software in qualitative data analysis.

4 Research ethics and ethical issues

The module also examines research ethics and ethical issues in terms of research subject matter, the application of data collection methods, how research can impact in different ways upon research participants and wider society, as well as the formal ethical guidelines and requirements that govern sociological research.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Learning and teaching for this module will take place through a combination of lectures, seminars, and collaborative workshops. Lectures introduce students to key module themes concerned with research and incorporate a number of discussion and reflection prompts that require students to consolidate their learning. Seminars and workshops involve directed learning activities that require students to engage with formal tasks and practice research skills within a collaborative peer learning context. The module has been expressly designed to integrate with the designated Abertay Attributes and provides an important avenue for students to grow and develop these as part of their ongoing academic studies. The intellectual dimension will be fostered by engagement with appropriate theoretical knowledge and applied skills, directed independent learning and the two-part module assessment. The professional dimension will be fostered by student exposure to the key aspects of the research process, the use of directed workshop tasks as well as collaborative student communication and engagement in workshops. The personal dimension will be fostered by in-class learning that emphasizes the importance of peer and group context and communication. Finally, the active citizen dimension will be fostered by the development of module content that draws attention to the role of research in constituting knowledge about social issues and problems and informing contemporary public, political and social scientific debate. There are two units of assessment for this module. Unit 1 is by class test and is designed to assess learning over the first half of the module. Unit 2 is by portfolio and will assess student learning over the remainder of the module.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 13
Tutorial/Seminar 26
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 71
Assessment 45
Independent 45

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.