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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. Documents

6. Surveys

7. Interviews

8. Ethnography

9. Mixed and multiple methods

10. Research questions, research design and ethics II

Semester 2

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

2. Research ethics and data management

3. Web-based surveys I

4. Web-based surveys II

5. Doing interviews

6. Introduction to SPSS for social scientists

7. Reflexivity and standpoint in empirical research

8. Analysis of qualitative data

9. In the field: challenges and adaptations

10. 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.

Seminars and supervisions are generally delivered by core subject area staff in criminology. Additional contributions may be made by researchers, post docs and PhD students where this is deemed appropriate by the course organiser.

The semester 2 sessions on Web-based surveys and SPSS data analysis are provided through the VLE by the Research Training Centre at Edinburgh University.
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
Not being delivered
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. and McCartan, K. (2016), Real World Research. (4th edn.) Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.
Armstrong, S., Blaustein, J. and Henry A. (eds) (2017), Reflexivity in Criminal Justice: Intersections of Policy, Practice and Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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.

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.

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 and development of a research project.
2. Work reflexively on a piece of social research, adapting as necessary to feedback from supervisors, peers and/or research collaborators.
3. Evaluate different methodological approaches through practical experience and/or critical reflection.
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. Understand different approaches to data collection and data analysis.
3. Negotiate research access and/or 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 and/or methodological reflections, drawing them into a coherent, reflexive and critical narrative.
7. Communicate clearly and succinctly about research design and ethics 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. Communicate clearly formulated research problems, proposals and designs
2. Write an ethical review form that shows recognition of 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, if required, with practitioners.
Course organiserDr Alistair Henry
Tel: (0131 6)50 9697
Course secretaryMs Susanna Wickes
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