Information regarding our 2023/24 admissions cycle

Our 2023/24 postgraduate taught admissions cycle will open on Monday, 10 October. For most programmes, the application form will not open until this date.

MA Political Science - Political Theory Pathway (Research Route)

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Internet Research

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOST60232
Credit rating 5
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course will provide students with insights into digital social research methods such as: on-line ethnography, on-line interviews, focus groups, blog analysis and on-line surveys. The course will help develop the students’ skills in using the Internet as a source of data – ‘the field’. In addition, the course will highlight research ethics when using the Internet and digital methods for social research and provide guidance on good practice.


(i) To provide the students with an insight into digital social research methods such as on-line ethnography, on-line interviews, focus groups, blog analysis and on-line surveys.

(ii) To develop the students skills in using the Internet as a source of data -`the field' including: communities on-line, non participant observation, covert studies, social media data analysis such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook and on-line consumption data and the sampling and representation challenges that such data poses.

(iii) To highlight to the students research ethics when using the Internet and digital methods for social research and provide guidance on good practice.

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be organised around two 3-hour work sessions combining lectures, practicals and group work as well as linked follow-up resources. The first session will provide an overview of Internet based research methods and data types. This will include: digital methods (on-line ethnography, interviews and surveys), data access, sampling, representation issues and ethics. The group work will involve a discussion of data types and ethical issues such as privacy and provide signposts to ethical good practice guidelines. The second session will involve taster practicals in using on-line research methods, software and gathering data. No previous knowledge is assumed.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Written feedback available via Turnitin 

Recommended reading

Key Reading

  • Clark, T., Foster, L., Sloan, L., & Bryman, A. (2021) Bryman’s social research methods. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  • Fielding, N., Lee, R.M. and Blank, G. (2017) The SAGE Handbook of Online Research Methods. Los Angeles: Sage.

General Reading - Books

  • Halfpenny, P. and Proctor, R. (2015) (eds) Innovations in Digital Research Methods. Sage.
  • Hewson, C., Vogel, C. and Laurent, D. (2016) Internet Research Methods. London: Sage.
  • Howard, P.N. (2020) Lie Machines. Yale University Press.
  • Markham, A. and Baym, N. (2009) Internet Inquiry: Conversations About Method. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Marres, N. (2017) Digital Sociology. London: Polity Press.
  • Price, S., Jewitt, C. and Brown, B. (2013) The SAGE Handbook of Digital Technology Research. London: Sage.
  • Sloan, L. and Quan-Haase, A. (2016) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods. 
  • Snee, H., Hine, C. and Morey, Y. (2015) Digital Methods for Social Science: An Interdisciplinary Guide to Research Innovation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

General reading – Journal articles / Papers

  • Dodds, S. and Hess, A.C. (2020) ‘Adapting research methodology during COVID-19: lessons for transformative service research’, Journal of Service Management, 32(2), pp.203-217,
  • Duffy, A. Tandoc, E. and Ling, R.  (2020) ‘Too good to be true, too good not to share: the social utility of fake news’, Information, Communication & Society, 23(13), pp.1965-1979,
  • Emmert M., Meier F., Heider A.-K., Durr C., Sander U. (2014) ‘What do patients say about their physicians? An analysis of 3000 narrative comments posted on a German physician rating website’. Health Policy, 118(1), pp.66-73.
  • Ferrari E. (2020) ‘Sincerely Fake: Exploring User-Generated Political Fakes and Networked Publics’. Social Media + Society. doi:10.1177/2056305120963824
  • Gerbaudo P., Marogna, F. and Alzetta, C. (2019) ‘When “Positive Posting” Attracts Voters: User Engagement and Emotions in the 2017 UK Election Campaign on Facebook’. Social Media + Society. October. doi:10.1177/2056305119881695
  • González-Bailón, S., Wang, N., Rivero, A., Borge-Holthoefer, J. and Moreno, Y. (2014) Assessing the Bias in Samples of Large Online Networks,
  • Goodwin, I., Griffin, C., Lyons, A., McCreanor, T., and Barnes, H. M. (2016) ‘Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self’. Social Media + Society.
  • Han, J., Torok, M., Gale, N., Wong, Q. J., Werner-Seidler, A., Hetrick, S. E., and Christensen, H. (2019) ‘Use of web Conferencing technology for conducting online focus groups among young people with lived experience of suicidal thoughts: mixed methods research’. JMIR mental health, 6(10).
  • Hookway, N. (2008) ‘Entering the blogosphere': some strategies for using blogs in social research’. Qualitative research, 8(1), pp.91-113.
  • Moody-Ramirez, M., and Church, A. B. (2019) ‘Analysis of Facebook Meme Groups Used During the 2016 US Presidential Election’. Social Media + Society.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 44

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ji Hye Kim Unit coordinator

Additional notes

General reading continued

  • Pain P, and Chen G.M. (2019) ‘The President Is in: Public Opinion and the Presidential Use of Twitter’. Social Media + Society, 5(2). doi:10.1177/2056305119855143
  • Sloan, L., Morgan, J., Housley, W., Williams, Edwards, M., Burnap, A., Omer, R. (2013) ‘Knowing the Tweeters: Deriving Sociologically Relevant Demographics from Twitter’. Sociological Research Online, 18(3).

On-line Ethnography

  • Hine, C. (2015) Ethnography for the Internet - Embedded, Embodied and Everyday. London: Routledge.
  • Keim-Malpass, J., Steeves, R.H. and  Kennedy, C. (2014) ‘Internet ethnography: A review of methodological considerations for studying online illness blogs’, International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(12), pp. 1686-1692.
  • Kozinets, R. (2015) Netnography. London: Sage.
  • Murthy, D. (2008) ‘Digital Ethnography: An Examination of the Use of New Technologies for Social Research’. Sociology October, 42(5), pp.837-855.
  • Pink, S. et al. (2016) Digital Ethnography : Principles and Practice. Los Angeles: SAGE.


  • Association of Internet Researchers Guidelines for Ethical Internet Research,
  • Neuhaus, F. and Webmoor, T. (2011) “Agile Ethics for Massified Research and Visualization”. Information, Communication and Society, 15(1).
  • SRA Ethics Code of Practice of Social Research
  • Williams, M.L., Burnap, P. and Sloan, L. (2017) ‘Towards an Ethical Framework for Publishing Twitter   Data in Social Research: Taking into Account Users’ Views, Online Context and Algorithmic Estimation’. Sociology, 51(6), pp.1149–1168.
  • Zook, M., Barocas, S., boyd, danah, Crawford, K., Keller, E., Gangadharan, S.P., Goodman, A., Hollander, R., Koenig, B.A., Metcalf, J., Narayanan, A., Nelson, A., Pasquale, F., (2017) Ten simple rules for responsible big data research. PLOS Computational Biology 13, e1005399.
  • Zwitter, A. (2014) ‘Big Data Ethics’. Big Data & Society. 1(2).





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