BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Understanding Research

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC10642
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


  • The role and purpose of research in education and related field
  • what is involved in high quality research that can have a positive impact
  • what it means to conduct research in an ethical manne
  • research design and research instrument
  • different approaches to issues and questions
  • critical analysis and evaluation of research design and findings



This unit aims to introduce students to varied examples of academic research in education for lively discussion on its purpose and design. The intention is to prepare students for their own future research through critical analysis and evaluation of previous research and possible alternative approaches to the topics. 

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the nature and purpose of research in education and its related fields
  • Understand the importance of a research question and its role as the origin of a research study.
  • Understand the limitations and suitability of different approaches to research topics and studies
  • Understand the need for research ethics

Intellectual skills

  • Being able to determine the difference between high and poor quality researc
  • Being able to determine research method appropriateness for different studies
  • Being able to analyse the impact of research design

Practical skills

  • Being able to search for high quality research materials online and via the University library
  • Appropriate use of a range of terms related to academic research
  • Develop writing skills to express and support individual viewpoints

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Improved critical reading skills for published research
  • Group discussion and team work skills
  • Be able to assess their potential future contributions to their respective field of study

Teaching and learning methods

Tutor facilitated sessions will be attended by all students. Relevant research themes and issues will be introduced through presentations and discussions of varied examples of research with different methodologies, participants and research instruments. We will consider questions such as: What is the purpose of educational research? Who undertakes this research? What makes a ‘good’ research question? How do we design research? What is ‘good research practice’? What does it mean to be an ethical researcher?  How does research design make a difference to findings?  Current researchers will be invited to present their research (as work in progress) and explain why they undertook their particular studies and what they hope to achieve. Other sessions will focus on interpretation and critical reading of specific research studies.  Interaction will be encouraged between students and tutor/presenter; between peers; and between students and content.

Seminars: Small groups of students will select an article to review and prepare for seminar discussions on a specific research journal in relation to the research question, themes and issues explored as well as methodology and methods.

Directed reading: Students will be directed to specific preparatory and review activities and materials for the sessions.

Private study: Students are expected to read widely from the reading list about research methods in education and elsewhere in relation to the educational topic/issue they select to review. 

Assessed work: Students will be provided with detailed guidelines for the summative assessment tasks (see below). They will prepare drafts of materials for formative feedback from peers and the tutor – and will make changes to these materials for final submission and assessment.  The final submissions will be a blog about a single piece of research; and a methodological review and comparison of research studies on a topic of their choosing.

Assessment methods

Assessment task


How and when feedback is provided

Weighting within unit (if relevant)


Critical analysis and discussion of research methods used in a specific article in blog format.



Mini-methodological literature review.

1000 words





2000 words

Written feedback will be provided within 15 working days of the submission deadline.

Written feedback will be provided within 15 working days of the submission deadline.








Feedback methods

Available via Blackboard

Recommended reading

British Educational Research Association, [BERA] (2018) Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research, fourth edition. BERA: London. Available at:

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education. London and New York: Routledge Falmer.

Denscome, M. The Good Research Guide For Small-Scale Social Research Projects. (2017). London: Open University Press.

Gibson, W. & Brown, Andrew, 2009. Working with Qualitative Data, London: SAGE Publications.

Girden, E. R. and Kabacoff, R. I. (2010) Evaluating Research Articles From Start to Finish. 3rd Revised edition. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc.

Greene, S. and Hogan, D. (2005) Researching children’s experience: methods and approaches. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Hart, C. (2018) Doing a Literature Review. 2nd Revised edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Kumar, Ranjit (1999) Research methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners. London: Sage.

Lewis, V. and Open University (2004) The reality of research with children and young people. London: SAGE.

Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. and Spirduso, W. W. (2009) Reading and Understanding Research. 3rd Revised edition. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc.

Mertler, C. A. (2015) Introduction to Educational Research. 8th Edition. Publisher location: Pearson.

Nassaji, Hossein (2015) Qualitative and descriptive research: Data type versus data analysis. Language Teaching Research. 19 (2), 129–132.

Pan, M. L. (2016) Preparing Literature Reviews. 5th New edition. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Ridley, D. (2012) The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students. 2nd Revised edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Seminars 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 70

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mark Innes Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Hours Allocated

Lectures (6 x 2 hrs)




Directed reading


Private study


Assessed work


Total Hours



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