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The aim of this module is to help you gain the knowledge and skills needed in order to develop a coherent research design for a small scale study. You are supported to consider

Module introduction: Research Methods

This module supports you in developing the skills and understanding necessary to develop a research proposal. This will prepare you to complete your MSc dissertation project, which is completed largely by independent study, supported by your personal tutor. The module includes five work packages, each including readings and activities that support you to consider and make decisions around five main aspects of research methodology: your research focus and questions, your research strategy, your research methods, your methods of data analysis and the philosophical and ethical principles that underpin your developing research.

Module aim

  1. The characteristics of good research questions;
  2. The principles of research design including ethical principles;
  3. The pros and cons of different data collection methods and the ways to potentially combine different methods in a single study;
  4. Methods and techniques of data analysis and ways to interpret and report data including mixed methods data;
  5. The philosophical and theoretical principles of research and the principle that underpins your developing research.

Module assessment

Assignment : a 5,000 word (+ or – 10%) written assignment in the form of a research proposal (100% of the module mark).  You should choose a research focus related to at least one of the module themes in this programme:

  • Educational leadership, learning and change
  • External influences on educational leadership
  • Organizational effectiveness, improvement and transformation

The research proposal should start with an introduction that explains

  • the research issue and focus and its academic significance,
  • the research contexts including national and local contexts and the professional significance of the issue,
  • a clear statement of the research aim and questions.

It should include a literature review that demonstrates your understandings of

  • the theoretical perspectives and themes that can help shed light on your research questions,
  • where applicable, gaps in the literature that justify your proposed research,

It should include a methodology section that explains and justifies

  • the philosophical stance that underpins your developing research,
  • the overall research strategy or design frame,
  • the chosen research method(s) including the pros and cons and approach to sampling or selection of research participants,
  • the proposed methods of data analysis,
  • ethical considerations in relation to the proposed research,
  • a timetable for the completion of dissertation.

NB A word count of the substantive text, excluding the reference lists, should be given.

Module overview

Below is a table providing an overview of the tasks, readings and activities that form a part of this introductory module.  These tasks, readings and activities are not formally assessed.  They are intended to serve as an induction into the field of research methodology.

There are five work packages in this module.  Each work package focuses on a key aspect of research methodology, as follows:

  • Introduction to educational research
  • Approaches to research design
  • Issues of data collection and fieldwork
  • Qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • Clarify the theoretical and methodological principles behind your developing research.

The themes reflect different aspects of research methodology, but some of the readings and activities in the different work packages may overlap in their coverage of themes.

During this module we ask that you start to keep a research diary, in which you note your developing reflections on and understandings of the field of research methodology in relation to your developing research.  The research journal will not be submitted or assessed.  It may however provide you with the basis for some discussions with your supervisor and it should help you keep track of how your thinking has developed and evolved as you write up the research proposal assignment.


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