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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Policy

Undergraduate Course: Qualitative Research: Principles and Practicalities for Social Policy (SCPL10040)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary'Qualitative Research: Principles and Practicalities for Social Policy' will equip students with the qualitative research skills necessary to appreciate, critically assess, and undertake qualitative research relevant to their social policy degree. The course has two main purposes: first to enable students to develop as ethical and research-minded scholars familiar with adopting a reflexive and inquiring stance towards social policy problems; and second to enable students to develop their knowledge and skills of key qualitative methods suitable for social policy analysis.

Course description Understanding and effectively utilising appropriate qualitative methods is an essential skill for undertaking social policy analysis. Building on the broad year two 'Research Skills for Social Policy' (which introduces students to research design, quantitative and qualitative approaches, data collection, analysis, and reporting processes), 'Qualitative Research: Principles and Practicalities for Social Policy' in year three focuses specifically on advancing knowledge and skills for the use of various qualitative research methods for social policy analysis. Through participation on this course students will also develop core research competencies such as reflexive and ethical practice, alongside technical research skills required for qualitative data collection and analysis, in order to examine social policy problems and potential solutions.

Through a blended research approach, the course combines a one hour lecture with one hour 'research in practice' session each week. The research in practice sessions may include live in-person presentations or live or pre-recorded on-line talks. Each week members of academic staff or external research collaborators contribute examples from their own research experience to provide insights into the qualitative research method discussed that week, reflecting on methodological choices, ethical processes, skills, and practicalities. Through this approach the course introduces students to the research being carried out in the social policy subject area and to contemporary approaches to social policy research in Scotland.

Complimenting these teaching methods, weekly 'research labs' provide the space and support for practice sessions where students work independently and in groups to develop their experience undertaking qualitative research skills, such as designing interviews, coding in documentary analysis, and examining participatory research plans.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Research Skills for Social Policy (SCPL08015)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 30% reflexive diary
70% methods plan (3,000 words)
Feedback Feedback will be provided in the following ways:
First, during the 'research lab' tutorials throughout the semester.
Second, through a dedicated feedback session on week 8 after the students submit their reflexive diaries.

Students should therefore be able to use the feedback and 'feedforward' for their final larger assignments submitted in week 10.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the different principles and practicalities of key qualitative research methods for social policy analysis such as interviewing, focus groups, documentary analysis, and qualitative evaluation techniques.
  2. Critically assess the strengths and limitations of different qualitative research methods relevant to the study of social policy.
  3. Identify pragmatic approaches to utilising different qualitative methods in the analysis of social policy research in an academic context.
  4. Recognize and perform qualitative research competencies such as reflexive practice, and ethics in terms of formal policies and everyday practice.
  5. Identify and employ qualitative data collection and analysis skills in preparation for Social Policy degree assignments.
Reading List
Becker, S., Bryman, A., and Ferguson, H. (2012) Understanding research for social policy and social work. Theories, methods, and approaches Policy Press
Guillemin M and Gillam L (2004) Ethics, reflexivity, and 'Ethically Important Moments' in research. Qualitative Inquiry 10(2): 261¿280.
Maxwell JA. The Value of Qualitative Inquiry for Public Policy. Qualitative Inquiry. 2020; 26(2):177-186.
McIntosh, I. and Wright, S. (2019) Exploring what the notion of lived experience might offer for social policy analysis. Journal of Social Policy, 48(3), pp. 449-467
Graham, H., & McDermott, E. (2006). Qualitative Research and the Evidence Base of Policy: Insights from Studies of Teenage Mothers in the UK. Journal of Social Policy, 35(1), 21-37.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - The group based research lab work will develop autonomy, accountability and working with others
- The reflexive inquiry approach will support curiosity for learning that makes a positive difference
- The methods plan assignment will support the development of creative problem solvers and researchers
- The reflexive diary method will nurture critical and reflective thinkers
- The blended learning approach seeks to develop effective and proactive individuals
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Hayley Bennett
Tel: (0131 6)51 1325
Course secretaryMs Ieva Rascikaite
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