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Preparing for Educational Research and Dissertation

Module titlePreparing for Educational Research and Dissertation
Module codeEFPM308
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Helen Knowler (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This is the final module in all of the GSE MA programmes (Special Educational Needs; Educational Leadership and Management; Creativity and the Arts; Technology, Creativity and Thinking; International Education; Education, Language and Literacy). This 60 credit module will introduce you to educational research and support you in designing and carrying out  a small scale research project on an educational topic of your choice. This is often referred to as the dissertation module because the main output is a dissertation reporting on this research project.


The module consists of online materials and/or taught components that build and support the research skills you require. You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor who will support you in writing a research proposal, carrying out your project and writing the dissertation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to develop your understanding of a range of methods of educational enquiry and to provide the necessary theoretical background to carry out a research enquiry, usually in a professional context. Specifically the module will enable you to:


develop a critical understanding of the range of educational methodologies and paradigms and their characteristics, strengths and weaknesses;

conduct a rigorous enquiry into a relevant and approved area of study within a particular field of education; identify and develop an appropriate theoretical framework for the enquiry;


design an appropriate enquiry and select suitable methods for the enquiry and justify these in theoretical terms; interpret evidence and discuss its relevance to existing theory;

develop a critical understanding of the ethical and other issues involved in the selected area of inquiry.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate a critical awareness of current problems in educational theory or professional practice;
  • 2. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques/ methodologies applicable to your own work (theory or research- based);
  • 3. Communicate the outcomes of research clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a written dissertation and other appropriate formats;
  • 4. Demonstrate awareness and ability to manage the implications of ethical dilemmas and work pro-actively with others to formulate solutions;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the chosen area of study with an associated mastery of relevant academic literature and discourse;
  • 6. demonstrate an ability to undertake research tasks competently with minimum guidance;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Exercise initiative and autonomous responsibility for the direction, management and completion of the research enquiry;
  • 8. Demonstrate decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations through sensitive collaboration with academic peers, professional colleagues, research participants and research users;
  • 9. Demonstrate the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development by making relevant connections between theory, personal research and, where appropriate, professional practice.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


Introduction to research Designing a small-scale study

Reviewing literature: critical analysis and synthesis Research methodologies

Research ethics

Data collection methods: questionnaires, interviews, observations Data analysis methods: qualitative and quantitative

Writing a dissertation.


This module encompasses two interrelated phases: an initial preparatory phase which introduces research methodology and research design; and a dissertation phase in which you conduct and complete the chosen research enquiry.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities2010 x 120 minute online/face to face lecture/workshops
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities1313 x 60 minute online/face to face seminar/reflective sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities10Individual supervision
Guided Independent Study50Directed tasks through module online materials e.g. reading, preparing outline of study, drafting data collection instruments etc.
Guided Independent Study50Preparation of research proposal and ethical approval
Guided Independent Study457Carrying out of research enquiry, for example, gathering data, analysing data, writing dissertation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
A written outline of the research problem/focus250 words1,2,4,7,9Verbal feedback from tutor/dissertation supervisor.
Research proposal3000 words1-4, 9Written feedback from dissertation supervisor.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
A dissertation presenting the processes and outcomes of the research enquiry10012,000 words1-9Written feedback and grade


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
A dissertation presenting the processes and outcomes of the research enquiryResubmission of dissertation (12,000 words)1-9Usually 6 weeks


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Text Book:

  • Thomas, G. (2017). How to do your research project: A guide for students in education and applied social sciences (3rd edition), Sage. 


Essential Reading:

  • Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2018). Research methods in education (8th edition) Routledge. 


  • Bell, J. (2018). Doing your research project (8th edition) Open University Press.


  • Pring, R. (2015). Philosophy of educational research (3rd edition) Bloomsbury. 


  • Robson, C. (2011). Real world research: A resource for users of social research methods in applied setting (3rd edition) Wiley.  


  • Wellington, J. (2015) Education research: Contemporary issues and practical approaches (2nd edition) Bloomsbury.


Recommended Reading: 


  • Bryman, A. (2018). Social rresearch methods (5th edition) Oxford University Press.  


  • Cresswell, J. (2014). Educational research planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th edition) Pearson. 


  • Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in the research process. Sage.  


  • Descombe, M. (2017). The good research guide for small-scale socialresearch projects (6th edition)  Open University Press. 


  • Miles, M., Huberman, A. & Saldana, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd edition) Arizona State University. 


  • Hammersley, M. (2007). Educational research: Policy making and practice, Paul Chapman.  


  • Davis, D. J., Brunn-Bevel, R. J., Olive, J. L., & Jones, S. R. (Eds.). (2015). Intersectionality in educational research (1st edition). Sterling, Stylus. 

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Educational research

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Completion of relevant MA programme modules (or relevant APL to a maximum of 90 credits) to the value of 120 credits at level 7.

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date