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Module Code: 223K0001



An Introduction

Handbook 2018-19

Unit Leader

Dr. Tom Brock

Email Address:


Principles and Debates | 2018-19


Lecturer and Tutor Contact Information 04
Unit Overview 05
Assessment Details 06
Recommended Textbook 06
Learning Aims and Outcomes 07

One-page Summary of Lectures 08
Lecture-by-Lecture Guide 09

Guidance on Writing 19
University Rules on Plagiarism 21
Guidance on Harvard Referencing 22


Assessment Brief 26
Assessment Matrix 29
Skills and Employability 32
Full Reading List 33


Teaching Staff Contact Details
Dr. Tom Brock (unit leader, lecturer, seminar tutor)
Room 413 Geoffrey Manton Building
Office Hours: Wednesday 12pm-2pm.

Lectures Times & Venue

Please check Moodle for seminar times/rooms

Class Tutors & Classroom

Please check Moodle for seminar times/rooms

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This unit introduces students to key principles and debates in relation to the design and practice of
research, including a consideration of the key philosophical positions in Western thought that have
informed existing research traditions. The unit covers three broad areas of content that underpin
the pursuit of research: a range of philosophical and theoretical frameworks within which research
is conducted; a variety of strategies and approaches to designing, conducting, evaluating and
analysing research; and critical reflections on the position of the researcher in the research

What You Will Study

You will study the research process and consider the relationship between the four key elements of
social research design: method, methodology, epistemology and ontology. You will be introduced to
to these terms and other key philosophical principles and debates in social research, including
positivism, constructionism, interpretivism, hermeneutics, critical theory, feminist epistemology and
post-structuralism. You will be taught how these perspectives relate to questions of science,
method and causality. You will learn how to generate research questions from across these
different perspectives and evaluate their appropriateness in terms of ethics and other research

Unit Delivery
You will have a 1.5 hour lecture and a 1.5 hour seminar each week. Generally speaking the lecture
is where you will be introduced to the week’s topic and the seminar is more interactive, as you will
complete work in small groups and have an opportunity to ask questions. Material will be delivered
in spoken, written and visual forms using short films where appropriate. There is also a strong
online element to this unit.

Unit Resources
You will have access to a virtual learning environment (which is named ‘Moodle’) where materials
such as lecture slides, readings and announcements will be posted on a weekly basis. You are
expected to complete the weekly reading for each session in order to contribute fully to the face-to-
face sessions.

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This Unit will be delivered using a combination of teaching and learning methods: lectures, classes,
audio-visual material, online learning and independent learning.

Students are expected to attend all lectures and seminars on this Unit. If you are unable to attend
seminar classes, you should notify your Principles and Debates tutor of the reasons for this.


Aims and Outcomes of the Unit

1. To theorise ontological and methodological positions relevant to the design and conduct of
social scientific research.
2. Debate the political influences and ethical deliberations contributing to research design and
3. Define and formulate research questions, while analysing the issues and challenges involved
in the transformation of interesting problems into researchable projects.
4. Select and justify an appropriate research design, based on a range of factors, to address a
specified research project.

Skills Developed

1. The ability to gather, organise and deploy ideas and information in order to formulate
arguments coherently, and express them effectively in written, oral or other forms
2. The ability retrieve and generate information, and evaluate sources, in carrying out
independent research
3. The ability to deliver work to a given length, format, brief and deadline, properly referencing
sources and ideas
4. The ability to put to use a range of information communication technology (ICT) skills from
basic competencies such as word-processing to more complex skills using web-based
technology or multimedia

Student Learning Activity

Breakdown of Type of Activity %

Learning Activity Summative Assessment 20%

Directed Study 30%

Student-centred Learning 50%

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This unit is assessed by course work. You will be expected to complete one essay (5000 words)
contributing 100% each to your final mark.
Essays are to be submitted online via. turn-it-in by 5pm on the deadline date. See below for more
Essay Due Date: Monday 7th January 2019.

There will also be an opportunity each term to submit draft essay plans for each piece of assessed
work. Please get in touch with your seminar tutor with regards to when they expect to see your
draft essay plans.

Crotty, M. 1998.
The Foundations of Social Research:
Meaning and Perspective in the
Research Process (Sage: London)

All students are advised to invest in this

book to get the most out of the unit

Copies of this textbook can be obtained

from the Blackwell bookshop on
Oxford Rd, and through various online

Recommended Textbook to Buy:

Also useful:
Benton, T. And Craib, I. 2001. Philosophy of Social Science: The Philosophical Foundations of
Social Thought. Palgrave.
Bryman, A. 2015. Social Research Methods. OUP: Oxford.
Greener, I. 2010. Designing Social Research: A Guide for the Bewildered. Sage: London.
May, T. and Williams, M. 1996. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Research. Routledge.
Pring, R. 2015. Philosophy of Educational Research.
Williams, M. 2015. Key Concepts in the Philosophy of Social Research. Sage.

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01 | Science, Method and Causality: An Introduction to the Research Process

02 | Positivism and Post-Positivism
03 | Constructionism and Constructivism
04 | Interpretivism, Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactions
05 | Critical Theory: From Marx to Freire
06 | Feminist Epistemology and Intersectionality
07 | Postmodernism, Discourse and Deconstruction
08 | The Affective Turn
09 | (Self-)Reflexivity
10 | Posthumanism

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01| Science, Method and Causality: An Introduction to the Research Process

01: Science, Method and Causality

Today’s lecture introduces students to the research process by looking at the relationship between
science, method and causality. In particular, it will discuss the four main elements of the research
process: ontology (theoretical perspective), epistemology, methodology and method and how they
are related. It will give students an idea of the different perspectives that will be covered over the
course of the unit and how they are interrelated. In particular, it will anchor these discussions by
looking at the issue of ‘causality’ and how it has been conceptualised in different social research
traditions over time. Students will be exposed to inductive, deductive and retroductive reasoning
and how differences in approach shape the kinds of knowledge and methods that we deploy in
social research.

Crotty, Chapter 1, p.1-17.

Greener, Chapter 1, p.1-20.

Also see Williams, ‘Causality’, p.11-16, ‘Ontology’, p.154-159 and ‘Induction’, p.106.

Also see Pring, Chapter 3, p.31-57.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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02 | Positivism and Post-Positivism

02: Positivism and Post-Positivism

What influence does Positivism hold over our research methodologies? Is it still a viable way of
explaining the social world? This week’s lecture tries to answer these questions by introducing
students to the history of the positivist tradition and how its concept of ‘causal laws’ has been
appropriated in social research. In particular, it asks students to reflect the advantages and
disadvantages of empirical science through a positivist lens, and question whether the world is
made up of regularities and constant conjunctions. It offers post-positivism as a way of navigating
through some of the flaws with empiricist social science.

Crotty, Chapter 2, p.18-41

Greener, Chapter, 7 p.112-124.

Also see Williams, ‘Generalisation and Laws’, p.82-87, ’Positivism’, p.160-165, ‘Realism’, p.

Also see Pring, Chapter 4, p.58-89.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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03| Constructionism and Constructivism

03: Constructionism and Constructivism

This lecture considers the ways in which constructionism moves away from a (logical) positivist
standpoint and the implications this has for our social research methods. In particular, it explores
the relationship between ‘meaning’ and ‘truth’ and questions whether these two things are
incommensurable. Students will be invited to reflect on the relationship between objectivity and
subjectivity in social science and what methods social constructionists might deploy to explain
social actions. Students will also explore the differences between individual and shared meaning in
social thought and the kind of realism, if any, it implies.

Crotty, Chapter 3, p.42-65.

Greener, Chapter 6, p.93-110.

Also see Williams, ‘Interpretation and Meaning’, p.110-116, ‘Objectivity-Subjectivity’, p. 143-148,
’Social Constructionism’, p.203.

Also see Pring, Chapter 5, p.90-120.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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04| Interpretivism, Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactions

04: Interpretivism, Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactions

This week’s lecture considers the ontological assumptions that inform the popular social research
approach: symbolic interactionism. In particular, it explores the historical roots of the interpretive
tradition, such as Weber’s concept Verstehen, and considers whether his notion of ‘ideal types’
remains an ‘appropriate methodology’ today. Also, it will ask students to reflect on the important
role that culture plays in shaping social action, looking to the work of G.H. Mead and American
pragmatists, C. S. Pierce and John Dewey. The lecture will conclude with discussions about the
advantages and disadvantages of using Goffman’s dramaturgical approach to study social

Crotty, Chapter 4, p.66-86.

Greener, Chapter 5, p.73-92.

Also see Williams, ‘Idealism’, p.94-100, ‘Language’, p.117-121, ‘Observation’, p.149-153,

‘Pragmatism’, p.171-175.

Also see Pring, Chapter 1, p.8-30.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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05| Critical Theory: From Marx to Freire

05: Critical Theory

This week’s lecture looks at the important role that critical inquiry can plays in social research. In
particular, it introduces students to ideas of Karl Marx and his influence on critical theory through
the development of the Frankfurt School and the work of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.
Students will be asked to reflect on the ways in which ideology operates in contemporary society
and whether these ideas inform a suitable ‘critique’. Students will also look at how Paolo Freire’s
approach to education might be a way of realising social and political change.

Crotty, Chapter 6, p.112-138.

Greener, Chapter 1, p.14-20.

Also see Pring, Chapter 6, p.121-141.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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06| Feminist Epistemology and Intersectionality

06: Feminist Epistemology and Intersectionality

How do feminists envisage the human world they inhabit? What are the consequences of these
assumptions for the way in which they undertake social research. This week’s lecture will explore
the different ways in feminists have sought to challenge patriarchy and masculinist culture. In
particular, it will look at similarities and differences between liberal, marxist, psychoanalytic,
socialist, existentialist and postmodern feminism (based on Tong’s categories). Students will be
asked to reflect on the ways in which politics affects epistemology and the methods used to
undertake social research. Students will also be asked to consider intersectional perspectives,
such as Black feminism, via. the work of Kimberle Crenshaw.

Crotty, Chapter 8, p.160-182.

Hammersley, Chapter 3, p.58-77.

Also see Williams, ‘Feminism’, p.68-75


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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07| Postmodernism, Discourse and Deconstruction

07: Postmodernism, Discourse and Deconstruction

Postmodernism describes a movement of thought that developed in the late 20th century across
philosophy, the arts, architecture, and literary criticism, which marks a radical departure from
modernism. It is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust towards grand narratives,
ideologies or notions of ‘truth’. In this week’s lecture, students will reflect on the works of Michel
Foucault and Francois Lyotard to consider the epistemological implications of postmodernism,
particularly for the study of language (hermeneutics) and power. Students will explore the role that
the deconstruction of discourse plays in making sense of an increasingly fragmented or fluid social

Crotty, Chapter 9 and 10, p.183-216.

Greener, Chapter 5, p.80-85.

Also see Williams, ’Postmodernism’, p.165-170, ‘Relativism’, p.196-202.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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08| The Affective Turn

08: The Affective Turn

What is the importance of bodily experience in social research? This week’s lecture considers the
philosophy of Spinoza, Bergson and Deleuze and Guatarri, to consider the role of ‘affect’, that is,
feelings and emotions, as a way of describing spheres of experience that fall outside of the typical
paradigms of representation (semiotics). Affect refers to those affections of the body (‘states’) by
which the body’s power of acting is increased or diminished, aided or restrained, by the idea of
these affections (‘states’). The lecture will consider some of these basic affects (‘desire’, ‘pleasure’,
and ‘pain’) and consider their relevance to social research today, paying particular attention to the
writings of Patricia Clough and others. 

Clough, Chapter 1, p.1-33.

Wetherall, Chapter 1, p.1-26.

Also see, Ahmed, ‘Happy Objects’, The Affect Theory Reader, p.29-51. (TBC)


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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09| (Self-)Reflexivity

09: (Self-)Reflexivity

Personal reflexivity is not only a vital part of being human but it also plays a pivotal role in social
research projects. This lecture considers sociological accounts of reflexivity, viz. Antony Giddens,
Pierre Bourdieu and Margaret Archer, and its relationship to social research. In particular, it will
introduce students to the ‘structuration debate’ within the social sciences, and how reflexivity is
offered as an issue and solution to the problem of structure and agency. Relatedly, the lecture will
also consider rationales for the importance of thinking reflexively when undertaking research and
offer a guide to doing reflexivity within their own projects.

Archer, ‘Reflexivity as the Unacknowledged Condition of Social Life’, in Brock et al., p. 165-183.

Dean, Chapter 1, p.1-16.

Also see, Brock et al., ‘Introduction’, xiii-p.1 and ‘Annotated Bibliography’ p.310-311.

Also see Parker, Introduction, p.3-13.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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10| Posthumanism

10: Posthumanism
Social science tends to be seen as a ‘humanist’ discipline, such that its conceptual and empirical
focus is on human individuals, thought processes, and their interactions with one another, groups
and social structures. This lecture introduces students to theorists who attempt to ‘decentre’ the
human and argue that our entanglement with ‘things’ (machines, instruments, animals, nature) are
of equal importance to our analysis of life. The figure of the cyborg (part-human, part-machine) is
held out as an example of such co-evolution and this lecture considers some of the moral and
political implications that emerge from thinking about humans in this manner. Indeed, this lecture
intends to provoke students into thinking radically about the future position that humans will hold in
the world.

Haraway, ‘A manifesto for Cyborgs’, p.65-107.

Pickering, 2010, Chapter 1, p.1-16.

Also see Bogost, 2012, Chapter 1, p.1-34.

Also see Bryant, et al. 2011, Chapter 1, p.1-18.


Some additional material will be made available on Moodle

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What Makes a Good Essay?
Always insert page numbers—if, for some reason, the pages in your essay come loose and it turns
out they are not numbered your essay ends up a jumble of parts. Always remember that a piece of
coursework has to be a usable document.

You will know by now that we use a feedback form that allows us to assess coursework on the
basis of a number of criteria. It will be a good idea as you write your essay to keep in mind that
these are all important. Here are some things – some very basic – that you need to keep in mind:

Structure and Organisation

This is important in allowing us to assess how well you understand the question, and how well-
developed your thinking is. I would encourage you to use section sub-headings within an essay or
project—this can help you to avoid rambling too long on one point at the expense of others, and
thus to achieve balance in your essay.

We tend to often think of an essay structure in terms of the introduction, the main body and a
conclusion. But you can go further than this: in an essay of 2500 words you might, for instance,
use 600-800 words on the introduction and conclusion (i.e., 300-400 each). That would leave you
1,700 to 1,900 words for the main body. Whatever question you have chosen your answer will
have to be based on decisions you make as to what to include (e.g., what points and examples to
discuss). You can’t —and shouldn’t try to— just cram in every example that you think is relevant.
Focus on three or four broad categories of themes / points and examples, and use section-
headings for these. That would mean you have sections of 500-600 words or so.

Thinking along these lines can help make your essay manageable (as well as allowing you to
attain a well-balanced structure) —you might find that something that seems quite daunting to
begin with suddenly becomes do-able.

Knowledge of Topic / Demonstration of Understanding

To show your knowledge of the topic / question, you need to make sure you explain your
understanding of key terms, concepts and be clear on the significance of key thinkers (and
represent their positions correctly when, for instance, when you summarise their arguments). You
should never use complex ideas or concepts and assume that because I will know what these are
that you don’t need to explain them.

It is a good idea to assume that you need to explain everything, and that the reader of your essay
is not an expert—simplifying complex arguments, or putting ideas and theories into your own
words (as well as using quotations from the original sources) is a skill you should be developing as
part of your more general ability to convey and explain how well you have mastered a particular
subject area.

Argument / Analysis / Evidence of Critical Thinking

This is also related to the previous criterion. What you have to do is demonstrate that you can see
how the points made in a text or an argument / position connects to other sources of knowledge. In
a sense you are weighing up the evidence for a point of view, which might involve looking at the
pros and cons of a thinker, text or idea / theory. Being ‘critical’, in this sense, does not just mean
pointing out flaws in an argument, a text or a theory. In analysing something—an idea or concept—
you should be breaking it down into what you see as its core features / elements, and suggesting
ways that it can be understood.

You can draw out analysis by making contrasts and comparisons— e.g., two or more sources
might offer differing points of view on a particular idea. Looking at these, and considering their

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merits can add considerable depth to your analysis. This kind of ‘working-through’ of examples and
evidence (and here you should think of your sources as evidence) constitutes the basis for your
argument, and so on. Essays that are lacking in this particular criterion are often described as
being ‘too descriptive’.

Style / Presentation

The construction of sentences and paragraphs is important —always remember that whenever
someone reads your essay they are trying to assess whether or not you understand ideas,
concepts, arguments, and so on. If you don’t express yourself clearly in writing, then it hinders your
ability to convey your understanding. So, the advice here is to take care over style and

The best way to correct errors and oversights is to read your essay ALOUD to yourself before you
finish with it— only reading aloud will allow you to notice when and what punctuation is appropriate
/ when you need to begin a new sentence or paragraph. When we sight-read we always skim over
the content, simply because we have been looking at it over and over again. With reading aloud
you notice everything about what you have written.

Use of Sources

What you really need to demonstrate in an essay is that you have read around the question, and
have consulted a variety of sources to look for evidence and support for your answer. The skill in
essay writing is in bringing sources into use as your evidence—i.e., summarising arguments and
ideas, choosing and using quotations from different authors, and comparing and contrasting ideas,
and interpretations of salient points, arguments, and so on. This gives depth and sharpness to

What kind of sources?

These should primarily be academic sources from books and journals (of the kind you will find on
WebCT and in the library). Don’t quote from Wikipedia— you might use it as a starting point for
digging up academic sources, but not as an authoritative source on anything itself (the reason is
simple—anyone can go to Wikipedia and change the entries / insert incorrect or false information).

You need to be engaging with academic material. Internet sources that you can use include
Google Books and newspaper websites, where relevant to your examples. During the unit I use a
number of film clips to illustrate ideas and so on—if you want to discuss material of that kind, then
by all means feel free to do so.

See also the fuller guide to Harvard referencing (below). One thing I will say here that is not
mentioned in the above guide is that sources from Google Books should be referenced as you
would reference the original source (and not as a website with the web address). It is important
that you take care over your referencing. Make sure that every reference that appears in your
essay is also in your list of references / bibliography— always keep in mind that an essay is a
piece of work that should make your working methods and use of sources transparent. That means
that as well as the knowledge and analytical or critical skills that you display in the essay what is
also being assessed is the level of your academic practice.

Good academic practice is being clear about the origins of your thinking and the sources of your
ideas. If references are incomplete / missing it can—at the worst—raise suspicions that work may
have been plagiarised.

How Many Sources?

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Students often ask how many sources they should be reading. This is quite difficult to put a
number on, but clearly if you only use around three or four sources then it is less likely that your
essay will have the kind of depth that would allow you to demonstrate your skills of analysis,
argument and critical analysis.

The appropriate use of sources gives authority to your essay— they (particularly well-chosen
quotations from your sources) verify and document what otherwise might just be your own
opinions. See my notes above on reading and using sources—consult book chapters, journal
articles, etc. Aim to use / consult at least between 8 and 12 (although this depends on the specific
focus of a question).

Reading Texts

DON’T TRY AND UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING IN ONE GO. There is a good chance that a lot of
what you read will appear incomprehensible on your first read through—academic writing is often
like that. Don’t worry about it: if you don’t understand something, pass it by for a while. If an idea or
theory that has proven difficult to understand is important for your essay it will probably pop back
up again as you read around in other sources. In the first instance, concentrate on what you do
READ TEXTS, OR BITS OF THEM, MORE THAN ONCE. Reading is work, and it can be quite
hard work—you have to work to understand what is being said, you can’t just sit there looking at
the words and hope that they automatically get transferred into your brain. Don’t expect to be able
to read academic work like you would a newspaper, or a thriller novel, etc. You might assume that
we lecturers just breeze through books and understand them completely, but we also have to read
and read and re-read in order to understand things.
you get the gist of the arguments, the detail can get filled in later. Do not pore over every word in
an argument / article; don’t get bogged down.
ENGAGE WITH THE TEXT. This is the most important one. Reading should be an active rather
than a passive experience. Do not take what you are reading as the Truth-and-Nothing-but-the-
Truth just because it is in black and white and has been published in a book or an article. You must
look at texts as arguments that are presented for your consideration—ask yourself: does the
writing and opinions and argument presented hold up to scrutiny? Remember that an essay is
supposed to weigh things up; to consider the pros and cons of arguments and statements.
ANNOTATE THE TEXT AS YOU READ. This keeps you alert. Write comments in the margins
responding to, or highlighting, key points (though not in library books). Write one line summaries of
the key arguments on the page that they are made. Underline good quotes or key phrases, but do
not rely only on underlining because when you come back to the text three weeks later you will not
have an understanding of the main arguments and thus the underlining will lack context. At the end
of a chapter or article (or even a section), write two or three lines summarising what the key
arguments are.

The University’s definition of plagiarism is as follows:

1. The representation of another person’s work, without acknowledgement of the source, as one’s
2. The unacknowledged incorporation in a student’s work of material derived from the work
(published or otherwise) of another, examples of which are:

· The unacknowledged inclusion of another person’s work

· The unacknowledged summarising of another person’s work
· The unacknowledged and/or unauthorised use of the ideas of another
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· Copying the work of another person with or without that person’s knowledge or
agreement and presenting it as one’s own

Plagiarism occurs if you present work as your own that is found to actually not be the result of your
own academic endeavour. Plagiarism is considered as cheating, and is a very serious academic
offence. Never plagiarise, and take all steps possible to avoid any implication that you might have
plagiarised (which can happen if you are careless with your referencing). Plagiarism in essays is
treated as equivalent to cases of cheating in examinations where the work of another student, for
instance, is copied. The rule is that you should never represent the work of others as your own,
whether it is work of other students or published work.

Usually plagiarism takes the form of copying material in an essay from another source (book,
journal, the internet, and so on) without either quotation marks or a proper reference to the source.
This is why you will find members of staff are concerned that you quickly learn the correct way to
make reference to books and articles that you are using. It is also plagiarism to copy the work of
another student, even with their permission, and presenting it as if it is your own. Plagiarism and
cheating in examinations is treated very seriously by examiners and they can fail or even expel a
student who is caught.

Avoiding Plagiarism
To avoid any possibility of plagiarism, there are a number of rules you should follow:

· What bibliographic / reference details do you need to record? Always record the full details
of the text/chapter you are using, including the author’s name, date, title, publisher’s name
and place of publication at the top of the page when you take notes.
· When paraphrasing material in your notes, make a note of the page number in the margin,
so that you can check when you write your essay that you have not inadvertently
· Using quotations. When copying a quotation, make sure you put it in ‘quotation marks’ in
your notes and record the page number as well: you will need to give the page number(s)
in the reference if you decide to use the quotation in your essay
· Secondary sources. It is common to source arguments and ideas from secondary sources.
When reading about one author in a second author’s book or article, make sure you have
full details of the source you are directly consulting. Remember, that you must refer to the
sources you have read and not pretend to have read author’s work when you have merely
read about their work in someone else’s book. See how to reference such secondary
sources below

Harvard Referencing
You must cite and reference all the information that you have used in the main text of your
assignments. It is important to acknowledge the work of others if you have referred to it in your
assignments: (i) so that others (e.g. those marking the work) can find the information that you have
used and (ii) because if you do not, you will be accused of plagiarism.
The Harvard System of referencing is the preferred departmental style within the Department of
Sociology at MMU. Please familiarise yourself with the examples set out below.

Referencing Authors’ Work / Ideas in the Main Text of Your Assignment

1. SINGLE AUTHOR. The only information required in the main text of your assignment when
citing is: Author’s name (or organisation if no author is given) and the year of publication of the
source. For example:

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Cottrell (2003)
Department of Health (2007)

In each of the above examples the second variant applies when you have not used the name
of the author in the sentence. Variations are possible, e.g. Where the author/s name is included
in the sentence, you only therefore need the date in brackets:

Cottrell (2003) suggests that by prioritising tasks you can develop a plan

Where the author/s name is not in your sentence, you include it along with the date in brackets:

Prioritising can lead to the development of an action plan (Cottrell, 2003)

The exceptions to this rule are when you need to include a page reference – i.e., when you are
using a direct quotation (see 5 below) or when you cite statistics.

2. MORE THAN TWO AUTHORS. When citing a paper by multiple authors in the body of your
assignment you can use the name of first author and add the term ‘et al’ (which is Latin for
‘and others’). Instead of: It has been found by Smith, Adams and Herbert (2006)… Write: It
has been found by Smith, et al (2006)

3. TWO AUTHORS. If your source has two authors you must cite both names - do not need to
use ‘et al’. This will be cited as: It has been found by Smith and Adams (2006)

4. QUOTATIONS are cited by using Author’s (or organisation’s) name, the source year of
publication and the page number from where the quote was taken. e.g. ‘Like a number of other
houses in the area, such a property could be bought more cheaply than better houses in
surrounding areas’ (Bhachu, 1985, p.62)

IMPORTANT: You must include the page number when you are using a quote or citing
statistics. This is the only time a page number is required.

It is important to use quotation marks. They must be used at the beginning and end of the
quote so the reader knows where the quote begins and ends. e.g. You should NOT write:

Bhachu (1985, p.62) claims some housing was considered to be a slum property, for it
lacked a bathroom and washing facilities.

The above example seems to indicate that the sentence is written in the student’s own words,
when this is not the case. This can lead to a misunderstanding of who said what. It is therefore
important to indicate where a quote begins and ends. You can use single or double quotation
marks (as below):

Bhachu (1985, p.62) claims some housing was considered to be a slum property, ‘for it
lacked a bathroom and washing facilities’

5. CITING A CHAPTER FROM AN EDITED BOOK, e.g. You might use information from a book
that is edited by one or more authors and each chapter is written by various authors. If this is
the case, you need to cite the author of the chapter whose idea you have used and the date,
e.g. Melucci (1997). The names of the editors of the book are not used here in the body of the
assignment but only in the bibliography:

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Melucci, A. (1997) ‘Identity and Difference in a Globalized World’, in P. Werbner & T.
Modood (eds.) Debating Cultural Hybridity. London: Zed Books

If the author/s of a chapter are also book authors, you need not repeat the names. Example:

Stasiulis, D. and Yuval-Davis, N. (1995) ‘Introduction: Beyond Dichotomies - Gender,

Race, Ethnicity and Class in Settler Societies’, in Unsettling Settler Societies. London:

6. CITING A SECONDARY SOURCE (an author who has cited another author). Be careful when
citing a version of someone else’s position if you have not read the original article. For
example, look at the extract below, taken from a book by Whitehead and Mason (2003, p.186),
and in which they summarise a work by Burns and Bulman:

‘A better way of appreciating the skills of reflective practice is to use Burns and
Bulman’s (2000) framework. This involves a five-element scheme for reflection in which
the first is self-awareness. Self-awareness is important for many walks of life and it is
vital in nursing’.

If I wanted to mention Burns and Bulman’s framework based on the information I have read in
Whitehead and Mason’s book I would cite the authors like so:

Burns and Bulman (2000, cited in Whitehead and Mason, 2003) have developed a 5
step framework for reflection. The first stage of this framework focuses on self-

In the above example I have shown that I am using Burns and Bulman’s (2000) framework on
reflection in my assignment. However, I did not find this information from the original Burns and
Bulman’s paper that was published in 2000, instead I have made it clear that I found this
information in Whitehead and Mason’s book which was published in 2003.

The Bibliography
· ALL SOURCES that have been mentioned in the main text need to be listed in the referencing

· The list of references in your bibliography should be in ALPHABETICAL ORDER by author’s

surname. For example:

Bemiller, M. (2004) ‘Wives, Husbands and Hidden Power in Marriage’. Journal of

Family Issues, Vol. 25, no. 7: 933-958
Cottrell, S. (2003) The Study Skills Handbook (2nd ed.) Basingstoke: Palgrave
Peterson, J., Lowe, J., Peterson, N. and Janz, K. (2006) ‘The Relationship Between
Active Living and Health-Related Quality of Life: Income as a Moderator’. Health
Education Research, Vol. 21, no. 1: 146-156

· IMPORTANT. If a source has multiple authors you should NEVER alter the order of the names
as they are listed on the source you are using
· A source that has three or more authors MUST be listed in full in the bibliography, i.e., ALL
AUTHORS surnames need to be mentioned, even though ‘et al’ has been used after the first-
named author in the main text
· The title of the book (or the title of the journal) should be put into ITALICS (or underlined or put
into bold type)

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Electronic sources
When referencing an internet source in the body of your essay you keep to the convention of
author’s name and date (see 1 above). In your bibliography however, you are required to include
the name of the author, the name of the organisation/site where the information was found as well
as the URL. For example:

Kerr, N. (2005) ‘Happy Slapping.’ Kidscape. [Online] [Accessed on 10 November 2006]

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Assessment Brief for Assessment #1
Unit title Principles and Debates in Social Research
Assignment Formulate a research question and justify its research design by
title critically discussing its relationship to key theoretical and
methodological debates in the social sciences. The essay should pay
attention to the following issues:

-The ontological questions raised by your proposed research.

-The epistemological claims that it intends to make and/or assess.
-The appropriateness of the method selected.
-Any ethical and/or political issues raised by your proposed research.
Unit Leaders Tom Brock

Submission A copy of your essay will be submitted via Turnitin (TII) as a single
Instructions file. You will receive indications in Moodle on how to do this.

The receipt of your submission will be recorded via Turnitin. You will
receive an electronic receipt to your student email account, although,
please be aware that sometimes these are delayed.

You must submit your work on the deadline date specified in

Moodle not later than 5pm.

Please do not leave it until the last minute to submit your assignment,
in case you encounter any technical difficulties.
Learning LO1. Theorise ontological and methodological positions relevant to
outcomes the design and conduct of social scientific research.
tested in this
assignment LO2. Debate the political influences and ethical deliberations
contributing to research design and conduct.

LO3. Formulate and define research questions, while analysing the

issues and challenges involved in the transformation of interesting
problems into researchable projects.

LO4. Select and justify an appropriate research design, based on a

range of factors, to address a specified research project.
Task details It is expected that the essay show evidence of an understanding of
and the philosophical reasoning that underwrites the design of social
instructions research. As such, students should thinking very carefully about the
research question that they select.

The question that you select reveals your assumptions about the
world. It also reveals what methods are most appropriate to
research it.

It is suggested that students adopt the following essay structure:

-The Research Problem (1000 Words)

-Outline the research problem, including the methods and
procedures that will be designed to address it.

-The Theoretical Perspective (1250 Words)

-Situate the problem within the conceptual literature on the
subject, paying particular attention to the ontological questions
it raises, and the broader debates within the philosophy of
social science that it connects with.
Principles and Debates | 2
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Task details
and -Methodological Concerns (1250 Words)
instructions -Discuss the knowledge claims that the proposed research
continued intends to make (‘epistemology’) and the appropriateness of
the method(s) selected.

-Ethical and Political Issues (1000 Words)

-Identify any ethical issues raised by your intended research
and/or consider its political implications (if necessary)

-Conclusion (500 Words)

-A summary justifying the proposed research (reflective of the
concerns raised in the essay)
Guidance on Word Count 5,000 words. You are allowed to exceed the word limit by
size of 10%, which means that the maximum number of words accepted for
submission this assignment is 5,500. You are also permitted to fall short by a
10%, which entails that the minimum number of words accepted for
this assignment is 4,500.

Penalties for Writing to a specified word limit is a skill in itself. Your ability to do so
overlong is partly what is being assessed. As a result, overlong submissions
submissions will incur a penalty; these are detailed below and have been agreed
at programme level.

If you are concerned about your ability to meet the learning outcomes
within the specified word limit, you should contact your Student
Support Officer for advice.

Mark Reduction Policy for Overlong Submissions

Amount the submitted work is in excess of the specified word

limit Effect on final mark
0%-10% None
11% - 30% Mark reduced by 10 points
31% - 50% Mark reduced by 20 points
> 51% Automatic fail. (Your work will be awarded a mark of 40%.)
Your work will not be read and no feedback will be provided.

(NB: Penalties will be reviewed annually.)

Feedback Formative feedback on the essay will be provided through classroom

policy activities and scheduled tutorials.

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Support Students will be asked to submit draft proposals of their essays via.
arrangements in-class tutorials.

Students with specific questions should first consult the unit’s

Moodle page, and Handbook. If questions do not get resolved
through these documents, then students can bring them to be
discussed during tutorial times. If the question is of an urgent matter,
then students can email the unit leaders, and expect to receive a
response in the next 72 hours.

Students with Personal Learning Plans that include indications for

extension requests must discuss these requests with the Unit
Leader within the first two weeks of the course to plan alternative
arrangements. These arrangements will need to be agreed by both
the Unit Leader and program coordinator.

Marking and Your essay will be marked by your unit leader. In addition, a
Moderation minimum of 10% of submissions will be internally second marked by
policy other staff within the programme and moderated to ensure the
marking criteria have been fairly, accurately and consistently
applied. In addition, a sample of work is externally moderated to
provide the programme team with an external, independent overview
of their marking processes.

Principles and Debates | 2

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Assessment Matrix at Level 7
Learning LO1, LO2, LO3 and LO3 and LO2, LO3 LO1, LO2, LO2
Objectives LO4 LO4 and LO4 LO3 and
Graduate 1 2 3 6 7
Outcomes at Apply skills of Demonstrate Express Find, Articulate an
L7 critical analysis to a high ideas evaluate, awareness of
real world situations degree of effectively synthesize the social and
within a defined professionali and and community
range of contexts sm* eg communicate use contexts within
initiative, information information their
creativity, appropriately from a disciplinary field
motivation, and variety of
professional accurately sources
practice and using a
self- range of
managemen media
t. including ICT

86%-100% Novel and complex There is The A complex The social and
problems evidence of outcomes of and community
are evaluated the ability to their work innovative contexts of the
thoroughly with work are project is discipline are
reference to theory autonomousl presented designed, critically
and practice, y and creatively planned evaluated in
generating original creatively and and carried developing
solutions, with persuasively out action plans,
expressed with reference to to multiple meticulousl articulating
clarity professional audiences y to gather conclusions
standards using a wide and and making
and values, range synthesize recommendatio
reflecting of useful ns of relevance
critically on appropriately information to theoretical
their own selected from a wide development
practice. strategies range of and/or practical
and media. appropriate application.
sources to

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70%-85% Novel and complex There is The A complex The social and
problems evidence of outcomes of project is community
are evaluated with the ability to their work designed, contexts of the
reference to theory work are planned discipline are
and practice, autonomousl presented and carried critically
generating original y and convincingly out evaluated in
solutions imaginativel and fluently thoroughly developing
y with to a defined to gather action plans,
reference to audience useful articulating
professional using an information conclusions
standards interesting from a and making
and values, range of wide-range recommendatio
reflecting appropriately of ns of relevance
critically on selected appropriate to theoretical
their own strategies primary development
practice. and media and and/or practical
secondary application
the results
to produce
60%-69% Novel and complex There is The A project is The social and
problems are evidence of outcomes of carefully community
solved confidently the ability to their work planned contexts of the
with reference to work are and carried discipline are
theory and autonomousl presented out to analysed
practice y with confidently gather carefully in
reference to and useful drawing
professional coherently to information conclusions
standards a defined from and making
and values, audience appropriate recommendatio
reflecting using a primary ns
critically on range of and
their own appropriately secondary
practice. selected sources
strategies and
and media synthesize
the results

50%-59% Novel and complex There is The A project is The social and
problems evidence of outcomes of planned community
are solved with the ability to their work and carried contexts of the
reference to work with are out to discipline are
theory and practice reference to presented gather considered
professional clearly and information critically in
standards appropriately from drawing
and values, to a defined appropriate conclusions
reflecting audience primary and making
critically on using a and recommendatio
their own range of secondary ns
practice. strategies sources
and media and
the results

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45%-49% Attempts to solve There is Communicati Partial There is partial
novel and evidence of on of the attempt to or limited
complex problems a limited outcomes of plan and/or identification of
are partial, attempt to their work is carry out the social and
with limited work as an unclear and projects community
reference to theory autonomous confused and which contexts of the
and practice professional does not gather discipline in
who reflects consistently information drawing
on their own use from conclusions
practice appropriate appropriate and making
strategies or primary recommendatio
media and ns
20%-34% Attempts to solve There is Communicati Limited There is limited
novel and complex limited on of work is attempt to or incorrect
problems are evidence of unclear and plan and/or identification of
inadequate, with any attempt inappropriate carry out the social and
little reference to to work as to a defined projects community
theory and practice an audience and which contexts of the
autonomous does not gather discipline in
professional consistently information drawing
who reflects use from conclusions
on their own appropriate appropriate and making
practice strategies or primary recommendatio
does not media and ns
consistently secondary
use sources
strategies or
0%-19% There is little or no There is little Communicati Little or no There is little or
evidence or no on of work is attempt to no identification
of any attempt to evidence of unclear and plan and/or of the social
solve novel working as inappropriate carry out and community
and complex an to projects contexts of the
problems with autonomous a defined which discipline in
little or no reference professional audience and gather drawing
to who reflects does information conclusions
theory and practice on their own not use from and making
practice appropriate appropriate recommendatio
strategies primary ns
or media and

Principles and Debates | 3

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Skills and Employability
Over the years as a student (UG and/or PG) you are acquiring and developing a range of skills,
competences and abilities through a variety of experiences in terms of teaching, learning and
assessment. Your development is charted and detailed as part of the process of Personal
Development Planning.

All units in the Programme introduce and/or develop a variety of subject–related and generic
(sometimes called transferable) skills. These skills include the ability to communicate effectively,
both in writing and verbally, the ability to work as part of a team, the ability to manage your time
effectively in order to get things done and meet deadlines, and so on. These skills and abilities are
important in terms of maximising your success at university but they also enhance your
‘employability’ i.e. make you more attractive to potential employers since such skills are required in
the workplace.

Of the core skills which you are expected to demonstrate and develop the following are provided /
required within this unit:

COMMUNICATION SKILLS: communication in group discussions; essay writing; research report

writing; communication through the use of new media content
SELF-MANAGEMENT SKILLS: planning, applying study skills, organising your academic work,
working under pressure, time management, meeting deadlines
INTERPERSONAL SKILLS: interaction in group work, leadership, listening, sensitivity
ACADEMIC SKILLS: literacy and numeracy, critical and analytical skills, library skills, information
technology (IT) skills, problem solving, creativity, research skills

Equal Opportunities
Teaching staff on this unit are committed to MMU’s equal opportunities policy. Students are
expected to avoid using sexist/racist assumptions in their writing. Generic use of male terms
(‘man’, ‘his’, ‘he’) should be avoided as they tend to render invisible the role of women. Capitalising
words such as White and Black and using single inverted commas (e.g. ‘crime’, ‘victims’, ‘anti-
social behaviour’) help to highlight the political and social construction and context of such terms.

Principles and Debates | 3

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Reading List

Text books, readers, and general works on philosophy of social science, social theory, and
social research approaches

There are many books that you might find useful on this unit. The following is a broad cross-section
of the range of work currently available; you should be able to obtain a range of these texts from
libraries and bookshops without too much trouble. You will also be able to identify additional works
by yourself.

Adorno, T. and Horkheimer, M. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Stanford University Press:


Baert, P .1998. Social Theory in the 20th Century, Polity: Cambridge

Bauman, Z. 1989. Modernity and the Holocaust. Polity Press: London.

Bauman, Z. .1990. Thinking Sociologically, Oxford: Blackwell.

Berger, P. Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective, Pelican Books: Middlesex.

Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. 1991. The Social Reality of Construction. Penguin: London.

Bogost, I. 2012. Alien Phenomenology. University of Minnesota Press.

Brock, T, Carrigan, M and Scambler, G. 2016. Structure, Culture and Agency: Selected Papers of
Margaret Archer. Routledge.

Bryman, A. 2015. Social Research Methods. OUP: Oxford.

Bryant, L, Srnicek, N and Harman, G. 2011. The Speculative Turn. Re-Press.

Clough, P. And Halley, J. (2007). The Affective Turn. Duke University Press.

Craib, I .1992. Modern Social Theory: From Parsons to Habermas, Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Crenshaw, K. 2012. On Intersectionality: Essential Readings. The New Press.

Crossley, N .2005. Key concepts in Critical Social Theory, Sage: London.

Crow, G. .2005. The Art of Sociological Argument, Palgrave: London

Dean, J. 2017. Doing Reflexivity. Policy Press.

Elder-Vass, D. 2010. The Causal Power of Social Structures. Cambridge University Press.

Elder-Vass, D. 2013. The Reality of Social Construction. Cambridge University Press.

Gee, J.P. 2011. An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method. Routledge: New York.

Goffman, E. 1990. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Penguin: London.

Greener, I. 2011. Designing Social Research: A Guide for the Bewildered. Sage.

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Farganis, J .2004. Readings in Social Theory: The classical tradition to post-modernism, McGraw-Hill:

Fulcher, J. & Scott, J. .2011. Sociology, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press: Oxford

Groff, R. 2007. Critical Realism, Post-Positivism, and the Possibility of Knowledge. Routledge:

Hammersley, M. 1990. Reading Ethnographic Research. Longman.

Haraway, D. (1985) 'A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the
1980s', Socialist Review, 80, 65-107. Reprinted in Haraway, The Haraway Reader (New York:
Routledge, 2004), pp. 7-45.

Husserl, E. 2012. Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Routledge: London. 

Jeffrey, A. (1987) The Macro-Micro Link, University of California Press.

Kinsella, E. 2006. Hermeneutics and Critical Hermeneutics: Exploring Possibilities Within the Art of
Interpretation. Website Access:

Kivisto, P. (ed.) (1998), Illuminating Social Life: Classical and contemporary theory revisited, Sage:

Layder, D (1994), Understanding Social Theory, Sage:London.

Lyon, D. 1999., Postmodernity, Open University Press: Buckingham

Lyotard, F. 2004. The Postmodern Condition. University of Minnesota Press.

Morrison, K. 1995., Marx, Durkheim, Weber – Formations of Modern Social Thought, Sage: London

Parker, I. 2000. Structuration. Open University Press.

Pickering, A. 2010. The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future. University of Chicago Press.

Popora, D. 2015. Reconstructing Sociology. Cambridge University Press.

Pring, R. 2000. Philosophy of Educational Research. Bloomsbury.

Tong, R. 2014. Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction. Westview Press: Colorado.

Tormey, S. & Townshend, J. 2006. Key Thinkers from Critical Theory to Post-Marxism, Sage: London

Thompson, J. 1981. Critical Hermeneutics: A Study in the Thought of Paul Ricoeur and Jurgen
Habermas. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Williams, M. 2016. Key Concepts in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Sage.

Weatherell, M. 2012. Affect and Emotions. Sage.

Žižek, S. 2015. Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism, Allen Lane:

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