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Research Methods and Practice


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Paul Turnbull
  • Tutors: Paul Turnbull, Alex Aldridge
  • Assessment: a 1500-word ethics assignment (25%) and 48-hour take-home examination (75%)

Module description

This module will introduce you to the fundamentals of quantitative and qualitative methods in the social sciences as applied to criminological and criminal justice research.

You will be introduced to both principles and practices of criminological research through an examination of case studies in the field. You will acquire an understanding of the strengths and limits of various research methodologies, their theoretical foundations and the ethical issues that are raised in criminological and criminal justice research.

The module enables you to develop the critical skills necessary to understand, analyse and evaluate the research you read in academic journals, government reports and popular media. It also engages you in the step-by-step process of doing research, from turning a research idea into a question on to conducting the study within given practical and ethical constrains, and then analysing data using a range of theoretical and methodological tools.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introduction to Social Research Methods
  • Science, Society and Studying Crime
  • Ethical Issues in Criminology Research
  • Crime Statistics and Data Analysis
  • Literature Reviews and Desk-based Research
  • Measurement and Research Design
  • Sampling and Surveys
  • Interviewing and Focus Groups
  • Observational and Ethnographic Research
  • Qualitative Analysis

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • identify, evaluate and critique a range of research methods used in the field of criminology and criminal justice
  • offer sound academic judgement on the strengths and weakness of various research methods
  • identify key ethical issues and responsibilities at stake when undertaking criminological and criminal justice research
  • demonstrate a clear understanding of the fundamental principles of research design and data collection
  • identify common errors, flaws and limitations within criminological and criminal justice research
  • identify strengths, weaknesses, values and limitations in empirical evidence
  • appreciate the importance of the social, cultural, political and economic context for understanding research policy and practice.