SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MML524266
Module Leader Heather Lynch
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Social Work
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

The module seeks to present a critical perspective on research and particularly its purpose and place in developing evidence-based practice. The module covers some contextual aspects of research, such as the political context, as well as the ethical context in which research takes place. The module will address key philosophical considerations on the contested nature of reality and on theories of knowledge, and how these influence approaches to research, particularly quantitative and qualitative. The importance of emancipatory and participatory approaches in social work research will be explored. There will be coverage of the steps and stages of the research process, with emphasis on devising a research question, designing and implementing research design, and on selection of methods. Students will cover data analysis both for quantitative and qualitative approaches, with examples and exercises used to develop practical understanding. The module will include some practical sessions related to undertaking research. Students will gain experience in critiquing research as well as in developing a research proposal which either will be (i) proposing and planning empirical research or (ii) proposing and planning a critical review, both of which should be relevant to social work.


-284b7 Purpose and place of research in developing evidence-based practice. b7 The nature of social work research: its contribution to policy and practice b7 Ontological and epistemological bases of research. b7 Essential features of quantitative research including analysis. b7 Essential features of qualitative research including analysis b7 Examples of approaches to research: e.g. phenomenology, ethnography, documentary analysis b7 Examples of social work research including practitioner research. b7 Examples of critical reviews of topics relevant to social work. b7 Ethical contexts and ethical procedures related to social work research. b7 Developing a research proposal: empirical analysis or critical review

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:1. Critically review the purpose and place of research in developing evidence-based practice.2. Critically understand the ontological and epistemological bases of research and the essential features and distinctions of quantitative and qualitative approaches to research.3. Critically appreciate the particular relevance to social work research of participatory and emancipatory approaches.4. Critically appraise published research and research examples relevant to social work.5. Critically review the ethical context and ethical procedures related to social work research.6. Critically understand the key steps and stages in the research process.7. Critically understand data analysis methods used in quantitative and qualitative research.8. Develop a research proposal on a topic relevant to social work.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The core themes of the module will be covered in lectures, supplemented by directed reading, with significant use made of GCU Learn and other on-line resources relevant to research. Students will be expected to take responsibility for developing depth in understanding and application of the material covered in the module. Seminars will be used to address specific issues relevant to the research process, as well giving further opportunity for practical work on research skills. Students will undertake a group presentation to develop their critical understanding of specific aspects or examples of the research process.

Indicative Reading

Alston, M. and Bowles, W. (2012), Research for Social Workers , 3 rd ed. London: Routledge. Becker, S.; Bryman, A.; Ferguson, H. (eds)(2012), Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work: Themes, methods and approaches (2 nd ed.), Bristol: Policy Press. Bell, J (2010) Doing your research project: a guide for first time researchers in education, health and social science (5 th ed.), Maidenhead, Open University Press -4320 Bryman, A (2008) Social Research Methods , 3 rd ed. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Carey, R (2013) The Social Work Dissertation: Using Small-Scale Qualitative Methodology (2 nd ed.), Open University Press/McGraw Hill. Hardwick, L.; Worsley, A. (2011 ) Doing Social Work Research , London: Sage. Humphries, B (2008) Social Work Research for Social Justice , Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan. Mathews, I; Crawford, K (2011) Evidence-based Practice in Social Work , Exeter, Learning Matters. McLaughlin, H. (2007) Understanding Social Work Research , London, Sage Publications. Saldana, J (2012) The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, 2 nd ed ., London, Sage. Sarantakos, S (2013) Social Research , 4th ed., Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Shaw, I.F. (2007) Is Social Work Research Distinctive?, Social Work Education, vol. 26, no. 7, October, 2007, pp 659-669. Shaw, I.F. et al (eds) (2010) The Sage Handbook of Social Work Research , London, Sage Silverman, D. (2010) Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook , 3 rd ed., London, Sage Publications. Silverman, D. (2001) Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction, London, Sage Publications. Smith, J. A. et al (2009) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research, London, Sage. Smith, R (2009) Doing Social Work Research , Open University Press/McGraw Hill Education. Steinberg, D.M. (2004) The Social Work Student's Research Handbook , New York/London, The Haworth Press. Whittaker, A (2012) Research Skills for Social Work , 2 nd ed., Exeter, Learning Matters.

Transferrable Skills

Applying basic statistical techniques Critically reviewing research papers individually and within group Critiquing research methodologies Information retrieval Critically applying research methods Developing an ethics proposal Critically understanding the research process Developing a research proposal

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 24.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Practicals (FT) 12.00
Independent Learning (FT) 140.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 100.00 50% Research Proposal: proposing either empirical study or critical review (4000 words)