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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Criminological Research Methods (LAWS11361)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course will equip you with knowledge of principles of research design and key methodological approaches towards the collection, analysis and presentation of research findings. It explicitly emphasises the key roles of theory in research and issues of politics, power, ethics and reflexivity that are so crucial to the research process. Seminars form the backbone of the course through which different research methods will be critically examined. Some of these seminars will require you to take the lead and present your emerging ideas on research to peers, invited criminal justice practitioners and academic staff. Semester one assessments will prepare you for, and give you feedback towards, the development of independently researched Research Projects that you will undertake for assessment in Semester two. You will be allocated a supervisor for your project who will support you through one to one supervision. Semester two assessments take the form of a PowerPoint presentation of your project (which will be organised like a presentation at an academic conference) and a written Research Findings Report that will be assessed and used to disseminate your findings through giving feedback to practitioners who have supported your work.

The course is an essential element of academic research training. Even if you do not wish to undertake further research it will equip you with the knowledge and experience to evaluate the research of others. If you do wish to undertake further research (whether in external organisations or as a PhD) the course will equip you with the kinds of knowledge, skills and experience to better undertake that work. The practical nature of the course also ensures that, regardless of your future professional aspirations, the course will be of value to you and to your personal and professional development.

Course description Semester 1

1. Doing theoretically informed research

2. Research questions, research design and ethics I

3. Literature reviews

4. Ideas workshop: meeting practitioners and thinking about research topics

5. Surveys and quantitative methods I

6. Surveys and quantitative methods II

7. Interviews

8. Ethnography

9. Documents and discourse analysis

10. Research questions, research design and ethics II

Semester 2

1. The politics of research: doing research on, with or for practitioners

2. Testing research: triangulation and multiple methods

3. Quantitative analysis and presentation of findings

4. Qualitative analysis and presentation of findings

5. Standpoint and the researcher in research

6. In the field: challenges and adaptations

7. Writing up and presenting research findings

Minimum of two individual meetings (an additional one can be scheduled if required) between students and the supervisors of their research projects.

Semester 1 will be a relatively standard seminar-based course with 10 two hour seminars. Two of these seminars (4 and 10) will involve oral presentations and peer learning (see 15, below).

Semester 2 will involve standard seminars (1-5), group workshop style seminars that will be tailored around student demand at the time to support their emerging experience on their research projects ( 6&7), and one-to-one supervisions with supervisors (allocated early in the semester) to support individual projects.

Seminars and supervisions will generally be delivered by core subject area staff in criminology, all of whom are capable of supporting students in this ¿core¿ criminology course, with additional contributions from post docs and final year PhD students where this is deemed appropriate by the course organiser.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 16, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 336 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Both summative assessments in S1 have a strong formative dimension as both exercises explicitly build towards the research project that will be the focus of S2, and will ensure that all students have received full written feedback to support them in developing their projects. As they are summative they will be outlined in more detail
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 1. Describe and critically evaluate different approaches to research design, data collection and data analysis based on existing methodological literatures.
  2. 2. Demonstrate an understanding of issues of power, politics and ethics as they relate to social research.
  3. 3. Demonstrate a reflective understanding of processes, procedures and principles of ethical review.
  4. 4. Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the relationship between theory and empirical research
Reading List
Robson, C. (2011) Real World Research. (3rd ed) John Wiley and Sons.
Jupp, V. et al. (2011) Doing Criminological Research. Sage Publications.
King, R. & Wincup, E. (eds) (2008) Doing Research on Crime and Justice. OUP.
Becker, H.S. (1998) Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While You¿re Doing It. University of Chicago Press.
Maxwell, J.A. (2012) Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. Sage.
Alvesson, M. and Skoldberg, K. (2009) Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for Qualitative Research. Sage Publications
Crow, I. and Semmens, N. (2008) Researching Criminology. Oxford University Press.
Denscombe, M. (2002) Ground Rules for Good Research: a 10 Point Guide for Social Researchers. Oxford University Press.
Nutley, S. at al. (2007) Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services. Policy Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Research and Enquiry
A student who has completed this course should be able to:
1. Formulate appropriate, viable research questions to investigate complex criminological questions.
2. Design a research project to interrogate criminological questions that utilises appropriate and justified methodological approaches.
3. Conduct a systematic review of theoretical and empirical literatures on criminological questions.
4. Implement a research project ¿ under supervision ¿ following a robust research design and critically engaging with issues of access to data, managing project timelines, practical use of data collection and data analysis approaches, all with sensitivity to the politics and ethics of social research.

Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
A student who has completed this course should be able to:

1. Work independently on the design, implementation and dissemination of a research project.
2. Work reflexively on a piece of social research, adapting as necessary to feedback from supervisors, peers and research collaborators.
3. Evaluate different methodological approaches through practical experience.
4. Recognise the role of theory in social research.
5. Take ownership of their research with an ability to demonstrate its contribution to knowledge while also being cognisant of both its strengths and its weaknesses.
6. Work transparently and ethically in the context of social research.

Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal Effectiveness
A student who has completed this course should be able to:

1. Utilise existing literatures (theoretical, methodological, policy, legal) in the formulation of research questions and research project designs and critiques
2. Implement different approaches to data collection and data analysis.
3. Negotiate and maintain research access and research ethics arrangements.
4. Collaborate with academic supervisors and be responsive to their feedback.
5. Manage their own project milestones and deadlines to completion.
6. Consolidate and make sense of research findings, drawing them into a coherent, reflexive and critical narrative.
7. Communicate clearly and succinctly about research and in the execution of research to different audiences: peers, practitioners and academic staff.

Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Communication
A student who has completed this course should be able to:

1. Write a clearly formulated research problem and research proposal
2. Write an ethical review form that shows recognition of actual and potential ethical issues posed by their work and awareness on handling such issues in accordance with ethical guidelines.
3. Communicate research ideas, problems and solutions with academic supervisors, peers and with practitioners.
4. Present a research project, its design, and its findings clearly and succinctly, and be able to respond to questions about it.

Course organiserDr Anna Souhami
Course secretaryMs Florence Finlayson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9588
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