MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods Social Work Pathway
Pathway Convenor: Dr Jonathan Scourfield (School of Social Sciences)
The social work pathway through the Social Science Research Methods MSc is suitable for two groups of people:
- Those people, especially social work practitioners, who want to develop their understanding of and skills in social work research
- Those planning to undertake a PhD on a social work topic
In addition to core research methods modules that are taken by all students on the Social Research Methods MSc, there are five 10-credit modules to be chosen as specialist for the social work pathway. All social work pathway students are required to take Social Work Research and Evaluation and Evaluation and Evidence-Based Policy. Students also then choose from three sets of modules, all designed to open up specific areas of expertise and understanding relevant for Social Work research:
- Modules which develop theoretical and conceptual understandings of social work (e.g. Advanced social work practice 1: debates about good practice; Management in Social Care: Principles and Practice);
- Specialist methodological modules, designed to extend understanding and expertise in specific areas of methodology (e.g. Interviews and Interviewing; Statistical Research Methods);
- Substantive options that cover a wide range of relevant knowledge for social work (e.g. Community, Sustainable Health and Wellbeing; Penal Sanctions); Option choices are made in discussion with supervisors, with specific reference to the proposed topics of study.
In order to have meaningful contact with social work research being conducted by staff in the school, students should be linked to a research group. There is no group who activities are limited to social work topics, but there is a social work angle in several of the groups. This is particularly the case for the research groups focusing on childhood; crime and justice; health and society; risk, interaction and organisation; and sexualities and gender.
Students will be supervised by academic staff that have extensive experience of funded research for local and national government and voluntary sector bodies, as well as experience of research collaboration with local and national social welfare organisations and good links with local policy-makers and practitioners. These staff members are actively involved in disseminating social work research via publications in books, academic and practitioner journals and presentations to conferences. Several staff members have been involved in editing journals related to social work.
The MSc programme is as follows:
The aims of this module are:
• To examine the epistemological bases of different kinds of social scientific research
• To provide an overview of social scientific research strategies using examples from various disciplines
• To offer practical skills on the design, management and implementation of a research project
• To enable students to position their own research with extant debates
The module is assessed by means of a single essay
Aim: to introduce students to essential survival skills.
Outcomes: on successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Recognise the dynamics of the student – supervisor relationship.
2. Plan a thesis
3. Prepare a timetable for a research project.
4. Undertake a literature search.
5. Plan a literature review.
6. Prepare an accurate Author-Date bibliography.
Students will submit a portfolio including a self and a group appraisal of their oral presentation.
SIT094 Quantitative Research I
This 10 credit postgraduate module provides a systematic introduction to quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis in the social sciences. Students will have the opportunity to analyse data collected from major surveys and to develop a critical understanding of the use of statistics in contemporary social science. The module is designed to meet the generic ESRC training guidelines and provide a foundation for advanced, specialist courses.
The course will be assessed in by a single piece of coursework that builds on the difference analytic techniques covered in the module.
This module introduces students to some of the dominant theoretical approaches in the social sciences, and helps them develop a critical understanding of the historical origins and the contemporary relevance of those perspectives. The primary aim of the module is, by exploring key concepts and reviewing the debates in the field, to offer students a number of potential theoretical locations for their own research projects.
The assessment task for this module is a two-hour exam. The exam will consist of ten questions, and candidates will be asked to select and answer two of them. The purpose of the exam is to evaluate students’ understanding of social theory and its relevance to contemporary society and to the enterprise of social science research.
This module introduces a range of social research methods for the systematic collection and analysis of qualitative data. The module provides students with the opportunity to reflect upon the different kinds of data that are generated from a range of qualitative approaches. The module also familiarizes students with some of the contemporary debates about qualitative research methods.
This module is formally assessed by ONE piece of summative coursework.
SEMESTER ONE ADVANCED SPECIALIST OPTION
The module aims to provide the students with an empirically informed appreciation of theoretical approaches towards political economy, with specific reference to globalisation. It will introduce students to a selected range of theories about contemporary political economy. These analyses will be developed with reference to globalisation. The aim is to provide the foundation for the application of these theories critically, an analysis of the relationships between global forces and the state, economy and civil society, at international, national regional and local levels.
The assessed work will consist of two written assignments.
The aim of this module is to provide an overview of a wide range of historical and contemporary explanations of crime and criminal behaviour.
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
1 Describe and evaluate competing definitions of crime and criminal behaviour.
2 Describe and critically assess a range of criminological perspectives.
3 Analyse the consequences of criminological theories for crime control.
The module will be assessed by means of an essay.
The module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of evidence relating to the nature, extent and distribution of crime and criminal victimisation in contemporary society.
On completion of the module, students should be able to
• demonstrate a thorough knowledge of key debates within criminology concerning the relationships between the social characteristics (especially age, gender, ethnicity and family background) of victims and offenders, the social environment, and patterns of offending and criminal victimisation.
• demonstrate a critical understanding of sources of knowledge about patterns of crime and victimisation, and of different explanations of such patterns.
The module will be assessed by a two hour examination at the end of the semester.
The aims of this module are:
• to ensure that students are aware of different ways of conceptualising ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’
• to ensure students are familiar with the different dimensions of equality (e.g. gender, disability, race), and
• to ensure students have critical tools to evaluate policy and practice designed to promote equality and manage diversity
The learning outcomes of this module for the student are:
• To understand concepts of equality and diversity;
• To be able to compare and contrast models of equal opportunity critically;
• To be aware of current and planned equality legislation; and
• To be able to demonstrate an ability to identify the implications of equality legislation for public policy and practice.
Assessment consists of a 3,000 word essay
SIT798 Advanced social work practice 1: Debates about good practice
This module will encourage considered reflection on social work practice that is informed by a thorough grounding in cutting edge debates about what constitutes good practice. We will tackle debates about the politics of social work, anti-discriminatory practice, evidence-based practice, reflective practice, social work theory and ethics and values within an international context. The idea is to synthesise this knowledge into a complex understanding of the contemporary social work role and to apply knowledge and understanding of the key debates about social work to actual social work practice.
Assessment takes place through a focussed piece of work-based assessment, which requires the student to plan, implement and evaluate an example of one aspect of work-based action research; present the outcomes of this work within their agency; and liaise where appropriate to manage the change, consolidation or innovation that may follow from their work.
The aims of this 10 credit module are to train researchers in the effective articulation and dissemination of research based evidence in changing specific policy contexts and to provide an overview of the development of evidence-based policy-making.
After reviewing the state-of-the-art in evidence based policy development in both a British and European perspective; the module will focus upon specific research-based case studies in the areas of Housing, Regeneration, Local and Regional Government and Management, Sustainable development, Spatial Planning taken from research programmes currently on going in the Department of City and Regional Planning and across the Research and Graduate School.
SIT008 Research Design in Practice
(Students are required to complete module CPT001 Principles of Research Design before registering for this module)
This module builds on the exploration of the relationships between different epistemological frameworks and theory construction and research design undertaken in Module CPT001. It provides students with the knowledge and understanding necessary to produce effective research designs, which are appropriate to their research questions. It considers how to formulate appropriate research questions and the variety of research designs which are available to address research questions of different kinds. The Module considers the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to research design in the context of issues such as generalisability, validity and reliability; values and value-freedom in the social sciences; and the relationships between empirical research and theory development in the social sciences.
Summative assessment is by means of a written assignment. This aims to assess how far students have understood the relationships between the formulation of research questions and research design and methods. It is necessary to demonstrate familiarity with a good range of the relevant literature and to present arguments clearly and succinctly.
SIT095 Quantitative Research II
(Students are required to complete module SIT094 Quantitative Research I before registering for this module)
This 10 credit postgraduate module provides a systematic introduction to quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis in the social sciences. Students will have the opportunity to analyse data collected from major surveys and to develop a critical understanding of the use of statistics in contemporary social science. The module is designed to meet the generic ESRC training guidelines and provide a foundation for advanced, specialist courses
SIT099 Qualitative Research II
(Students are required to complete Module SIT098 Qualitative Research I before registering for this module)
This main aim of the module is to provide training in the analysis, writing and representation of qualitative data. The module provides students with the opportunity to undertake preliminary analysis of different kinds of qualitative data, and to consider the relationships between data analysis, representation, reflexivity and theorization.
This module has one unit of summative assessment
This module explores the principles and practice of undertaking ‘applied’ research in a range of educational and welfare settings. It explores the interconnection between theory and practice, the relationship between the researcher and the researched and the ethical and practical dilemmas of working in complex institutional settings. The module will cover:
• Research strategies in context (eg action research, experimentation, surveys)
• Interventions and impact
• Evaluating outcomes (determining outcome indicators, testing etc)
• Issues of generalisability
• Working with practitioners in context
• Research involving children and young people
• Dissemination and communication with expert, practice and lay audiences
Students will be assessed through a formal written assignment
SEMESTER TWO (Optional Modules)
This module introduces students to the most important sources of demographic analysis data in the UK, and the main techniques employed in demographic analysis, especially population projections.
Demographic trends are an important element in the changing social and economic environment. As such, the uncertainties inherent in such trends have to be minimised through the practice of planning. The area of planning most directly associated with demographic change relates to housing. So as an illustration of the relevance of demography to change and therefore to planning, this module examines the use of population and household projections in planning for housing in the UK.
This Module is concerned with the ways in which interviews are used in social science research. It builds upon the Autumn Semester modules and examines a variety of types of interview which are widely used by social researchers. As well as assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different types of interview, students will also have an opportunity to develop their skills in using interviews through practising different techniques.
This module aims to extend students knowledge of an important dimension of the interactionist approach to empirical enquiry. The module introduces students to methodological strategies that can be used to analyse aspects of language, communication and social interaction within a diverse range of institutional and organisational settings. These settings include medical encounters, social work meetings, counseling talk, courtroom proceedings, classroom interaction and broadcast talk. The module aims to equip students with a range of methodological tools for analysing the detailed specifics of interaction in organisational and institutional sites
This module introduces trends in the labour market and the theories that have been mobilised to guide policy formation at the intonation (eg EU), national, and sub-national levels. It draws attention to the dual aspects of the labour market, as both a source of a ‘factor of production’ and the key link between individuals and incomes (along with social networks). This double-sidedness means that the labour market is at once the key to economic development, and central to processes of institutional discrimination. Policies for development, regeneration, competitiveness, etc, all invoke the labour market, and policy is evolving under competing conceptions.
This module addresses the complex policy problems triggered by post-devolution Britain on the one hand and by the advent of multi-level governance in the European Union on the other. Running through the module is the systemic tension between two equally important public policy goals, namely subsidiary (democracy) and solidarity (equality).
If students require further information relating to modules, they must contact the relevant module convenor. Students must be aware that not all modules carry the same submission deadlines for coursework. Please ensure that you have checked all module submission deadlines with the module convenor and that you are fully aware of the assessment task and learning outcomes of the module.
Students may also refer to the Weekend module timetable for optional modules
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