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MA Political Science - European Politics & Policy Pathway (Research Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Internet Research

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 Social Statistics
Available as a free choice unit? No


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.

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%

Recommended reading

Background Reading and On-line Resources

Association of Internet Researchers Guidelines for Ethical Internet Research (2019)

Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press

Burgess, J., Marwick, A., and Poell, T. (2019) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media. London: Sage

Cantijoch Cunill, M., Gibson, R. and Steven Ward, S. (2015) Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks. London: Palgrave Macmillan

Elliot, M., Purdam, K. and Mackey, E. (2013) New Forms of Data for Social Research. Data Horizons.

Gruzd, A., and Mai, P. (2020). Going viral: How a single tweet spawned a COVID-19 conspiracy theory on Twitter. Big Data & Society.

Halfpenny, P. and Proctor, R. (2015) Innovations in Digital Social Research Methods. London: Sage

Howard, P. N. (2020) Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives. Yale University Press.

Kozinets, R. (2020) Netnography. London: Sage.

Mellon, J. and Prosser, C. (2017) Twitter and Facebook are not representative of the general population: Political attitudes and demographics of British social media users. Research and Politics July-September, 1-9.

Neuhaus, Fabian and Webmoor, Timothy (2011) Agile Ethics for Massified Research and Visualization. Information, Communication and Society, 15 (1). pp. 43-65.

Sloan, L and Quan-Haase, A. (2018) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods Hardcover. London: Sage.

Social Research Association Guidelines

The Economist (2010) The Data Deluge. The Economist, February 25th 2010

United Nations (2012) Big Data for Development: Opportunities and Challenges: A Global Pulse White Paper.

Online - Resources

Sage Methods

  Oxford Internet Institute

Fake News Inquiry

  Big Data Debate British Academy



Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kingsley Purdam Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Deadline for submission of assignment: -  Thursday 22nd April 2021




Internet Research


(5 credits)


Friday 5 March


Friday 26 March







via remote cluster



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