Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Principles of Research Design
Academic Year
Semester 1
Also available in

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehension of the basic principles of research design and strategy
  • Show an ability to formulate researchable questions
  • Explain why their research questions are significant and what kinds of questions they are
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of alternative approaches to research
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key issues in the philosophy of social science/history and their relevance to their research fields/topics

Brief description

This module will form an integral part of a suite of RT masters courses being developed across the University. Through this module Masters and PhD students will gain a broad knowledge of a range of research skills which they can apply in a variety of research contexts.


This module aims to give research students a knowledge of the basic principles of research design and strategy. It will enable them to demonstrate their capacity to: formulate their research question, analyse them and where appropriate, formulate testable hypothesis; explain why their research questions are significant, what kinds of question theirs epistemologically are and why they are adopting their chosen modes/methods of enquiry; and assess the implications of the outcomes of their research. To this end, this module provides students with a sytematically guided opportunity to familiarise themselves with certain key issues in the philosophy of social science and of history, such as: causation and multi-causality; modes of explanation and understanding; the nature of historical knowledge; sampling, sampling error and generalizability; society/history as social/historical constructs; critical functions of social science.


This module proceeds through 9 interactive 2-hour lecture-seminars. The sessions start with a lecture and the class then engages in group work and discussion on the topics. The emphasis is on students driving the discussion in relation to their own areas of expertise and in a manner relevant to them.
The sessions cover:
• Research design and strategies around designing research
• Research questions, and strategies around research questions and dissertation structures
• Causation and related issues
• Explanation, understanding/interpretation and historical knowledge
• Presentations on research
• Focused work on a research proposal

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Discussion and presentation of research design.
Improving own Learning and Performance Development of research design which directly affects their PhD.
Personal Development and Career planning A good research design is expected to lead to a good PhD, which will affect career.
Problem solving Through the development of a research design / plan.
Research skills Background research needs to be done.
Subject Specific Skills Research design / plan.
Team work Partly through presentations and peer feedback.


This module is at CQFW Level 7