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MA Sociological Research

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  • Objectives
    To provide students with an advanced understanding of the distinct character of the sociological research process To provide students with a knowledge of the main traditions of contemporary sociological research To provide students with the necessary skills of the main qualitative and quantitative sociological methods of data collection and analysis To establish a critical understanding of integration of theory, concepts, data, and analysis To train students in the design and conduct of original research To provide students with the knowledge and skills to enable them to proceed to further independent, self-directed research Postgraduate Diplomas are identical to those for MA Schemes with the exception of the Learning Outcomes of the Dissertation. Diploma Students do not write a dissertation.
  • Entry requirements
    Entry Qualifications A good undergraduate degree in sociology or a related discipline that has already been awarded, or in the case of students in the final year of their degree, that is anticipated. For British students a good first degree means an upper second class honours degree. More mature students need only satisfy the University that their background is suitable for a higher degree by virtue of other forms of training and experience and in exceptional cases this could include someone without a first degree.For non-native speakers of English either a TOEFL score of 580 or a IELTS score of 6.5 is required. We also offer a Graduate Certificate in Sociology to prepare students for post-graduate study in Sociology.
  • Academic Title
    MA Sociological Research
  • Course description

    Course Description
    The MA in Sociological Research offers a strong foundation in qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods through an advanced study of research design, practice and evaluation. Students become skilled in a variety of data collection and analysis techniques, and acquire a critical appreciation of different methodologies and their theoretical connections.

    Modules and Options

    The lists of modules below represent the range of options available for each year of study. This may not be a complete list of the options you will study, and may be subject to change, so please contact the department for further details.

    Stage 1

        COLONIALISM, CULTURE AND GLOBALIZATION
        Compulsory: INTERVIEWING AND QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
        Compulsory: TEXTS, DOCUMENTS AND ETHNOGRAPHY
        CONSUMER CULTURE
        CONVERSATION ANALYSIS AND THE DYNAMICS OF REAL-TIME SOCIAL INTERACTION
        Core: CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN SOCIOLOGY
        Core: MA DISSERTATION
        Core: QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS FROM UNIVARIATE TO MULTIVARIATE METHODS
        Core: SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH DESIGN
        CULTURAL STUDIES: THEORY AND HISTORY
        CURRENT CONTROVERSIES IN CRIMINOLOGICAL RESEARCH
        DYNAMICS OF HOME AND WORK IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
        FORMATIVE DEBATES IN CRIMINOLOGY
        GAY, LESBIAN AND QUEER LIFE: GENDER, SEXUALITIES AND CHANGE
        GAY, LESBIAN AND QUEER LIFE: HISTORY AND VISUAL CULTURE
        GENDER DIVISIONS AND FEMINIST THEORY
        GENDER, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT
        GLOBALIZATION, INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND ETHNICITY
        MEDIA THEORY
        SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
        SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THE GLOBAL CHALLENGE
        SOCIOLOGY OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
        SOCIOLOGY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 1
        SOCIOLOGY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 2: SELECTED SPECIAL TOPICS
        THE CONTEMPORARY NATION STATE
        THE DYNAMICS OF GLOBALISATION
        THE USE OF CULTURE: KNOWLEDGE, POWER AND DIFFERENCE

    Teaching and Assessment Methods
     
    A: Knowledge and Understanding
        Learning Outcomes
        A1 : A solid sociological knowledge at the forefront of thinking in sociological research
        A10 : In depth knowledge of a chosen field through independent original research
        A2 : An advanced comprehension of the principles of research design and strategy, such as how to formulate researchable problems and to evaluate alternative approaches to research
        A3 : A critical understanding of the relationship between theory and empirical research
        A4 : A knowledge of a wide range of qualitative and quantitative designs and skills
        A5 : A knowledge of an integrative approach to data collection and analysis
        A6 : A knowledge of relevant computer-assisted methods of analysis
        A7 : An appreciation of the centrality of research questions and hypotheses in sociological enquiry
        A8 : An understanding of how to address the ethical and political dimensions of research
        A9 : A critical understanding of the significance of alternative epistemological and ontological positions and ethical considerations that provide the context for sociological research

        Teaching Methods
        The schemes involves one foundation module in sociological theory, one foundation module in research design and three modules of research methods, and one option. Students are required to conduct interviews (SC520), to carry out fieldwork and analyse texts and documents as data (SC523), investigate surveys and ethnographies (SC905), do surveys and conduct advanced multivariate analysis (SC504). We use lectures to present material, ideas, data and arguments, in a clear and structured manner using examples, mapping the field and the contours of debates. Lectures are also used to stimulate students interest in learning the methods for sociological research. In each module the issues and methods covered in lectures are explored further through hands on practices or assignments for which students have to prepare. The course is designed to involve clear connection between the foundational theories and principles in the research design and theory modules and the skill oriented modules. There is a strong emphasis on developing students advanced understanding of epistemological traditions through contemporary debates and the process and logic of research design in SC901 and SC905.

        Classes and seminars provide the opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the content of the modules. In addition student learning takes place through the work they do preparing essays and, where appropriate, practical assignments.

        Assessment Methods
        Outcomes A1 to A9 are assessed through coursework. Coursework includes oral presentations, assignments, and essays. In addition, the assessed work for all MA students includes a dissertation, which specifically assesses Outcome 10.

    B: Intellectual/Cognitive Skills
        Learning Outcomes
        B1 : An advanced ability to search, summarise, and critically review sociological literature
        B2 : A sense of criticism in comparatively reviewing competing theories and explanations
        B3 : The ability to develop an original sociological argument
        B4 : An advanced ability to formulate researchable sociological questions
        B5 : A practical capability to collect qualitative sociological data
        B6 : A practical capability to collect quantitative sociological data
        B7 : An advanced ability to evaluate, analyse, and interpret empirical evidence

        Teaching Methods
        Students enhance the above intellectual skills primarily through the work they do for their modules, although lectures and classes provide a means of teachers demonstrating these skills through example. Learning is enhanced by hands on exercises in all the modules. Preparation for classes involves the reading, interpretation and evaluation of sociological texts and the collection and analysis of empirical data to hone methodological skills. Class tutors provide feedback on all student work through comment and discussion. In addition, tutors also engage students outside the classroom during office hours, appointments, and increasingly more often by email. Similarly the preparation of essays and other assignments also develops the listed intellectual skills. Students are provided with feedback on all assessed work and this is crucial to their intellectual development. The dissertation is used to demonstrate their mastery of a particular method of sociological data collection as well as their analytical ability and understanding of the complete research process.

        Additionally, MA students, along with PhD students and staff, are encouraged to attend the two day Annual Graduate Conference, which is held in February off campus. Addressing a different topical theme each year, it provides a stimulating forum for intellectual debate and discussion.

        Assessment Methods
        Outcomes B2 and B3 are judged and evaluated in SC901, B1 and B4 are assessed in SC905, and B5 is evaluated in SC523 and SC520, and B6 in SC504. B7 is evaluated in each of the half units and all outcomes are assessed once more in the MA dissertation (though a choice is usually made between quantitative and qualitative approaches). Demonstration of advanced intellectual skills is a key criterion in awarding distinctions for essays and dissertations.

    C: Practical Skills
        Learning Outcomes
        C1 : An advanced ability to retrieve relevant socioloical literature using library and online searches
        C2 : A practical ability to summarise, evaluate and review sociological arguments, sociological texts and sociological findings
        C3 : Competence in at least one major qualitative software package for analysis
        C4 : Competence in at least one major quantitative software package for analysis
        C5 : A practical ability to apply statistical techniques, from basic to advanced, to sociological data
        C6 : A hands-on ability to use data from a variety of sources
        C7 : A capacity for self direction in the planning, management and presentation of a piece of medium scale research, making judgements about the best use of time and data

        Teaching Methods
        In SC905 students learn to conduct professional literature searches and reviews and to work on various aspects of the sociological process. SC905 covers the basics of quantitative and qualitative data sources and methods, and the more advanced skills of using Stata are taught in SC504. SC520 covers qualitative data analysis using WinMAX, both relying on practical engagement in class. SC523 covers the analysis of texts and observational/ethnographic research, both relying on practical exercises in delivery. All the five modules teaching practical skills emphasise the integration of data collection and analysis.

        Assessment Methods
        Skills C1 and C2 are specifically assessed in SC905 assignments, but also form part of the assessment of almost every piece of assessed module essays. C3 is assessed in an assignment for SC520 and skills C4 and C5 are assessed in SC504. SC520 and SC523 assess C6 for one type of data source. For example, 30% of the coursework for SC520 is an assessed qualitative interview, SC523 includes observation exercises, while SC504 requires students to show the ability to use various sources of quantitative data. The assessment of C7 is accomplished by the marking of the MA dissertation.

    D: Key Skills
        Learning Outcomes
        D1 : An advanced ability in presenting ideas and evidence to others orally, in a clear and concise manner and an advanced ability to present ideas and evidence to others in writing, in a clear and concise manner
        D2 : An advanced ability to collect and present materials using information technology
        D3 : An ability to read, interpret and draw inferences from official statistics; a capacity to carry out medium to advanced statistical calculations
        D4 : A good self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems
        D6 : An essential understanding of how to plan, set appropriate time schedules and assess the feasibility of projects; a keen awareness of the need to reflect on their own work and to respond constructively to the comments of others

        Teaching Methods
        Key skills are taught and learned throughout the scheme through a range of strategies, such as requiring students to give oral presentations, through giving them specific assignments such as carrying bibliographic and web searches, through specific writing assignments and essays, and through class discussion and class and essay preparation. The specific issue of dissemination is discussed in SC905, though not assessed. Students learn to manage their own research projects through the support and advice of supervisors. They are given feedback on all their coursework and on their dissertation research and are encouraged to reflect on their own work and improve on it. Students also have the opportunity to develop skills in working in groups through their participation in the classes for every module.

        Assessment Methods
        Key skills are assessed throughout the degree through continuous assessed coursework. D1 is assessed by in class presentations, while SC504, SC520,and SC523 all use assignments to assess written skills for communicating ideas (D2). This skill is also assessed in the dissertation. D3 is evaluated in specific assignments for SC504. Depending on the students choice of topic, D4 is assessed in SC504 and by the dissertation. D5 is evaluated through the essay for SC504 and D6 in assignments for SC905 and in the MA dissertation. The dissertation also provides a means for an overall assessment of communication (D1), problem solving skills (D6), research management (D7), and responding to and working with constructive comments (D8). The skill of using comments on ones work (D8) is also reflected in the assignments in SC905.

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