Module code: SOCM037

Module provider


Module Leader

HINE C Dr (Sociology)

Number of Credits


ECTS Credits



FHEQ Level 7

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 130

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 10

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK EX.1 50
Coursework COURSEWORK EX.2 50

Alternative Assessment

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module elaborates two areas of significance in contemporary social research. Half of the module focuses on traditional and more recent approaches to documentary analysis, broadly construed to include historical study, content analysis, semiotics, visual methods, and life history analysis and oral history. In the other half of the module the Internet is studied as a source of sociological data, providing both documents for analysis and a medium for interaction with research participants. The ethical and practical challenges of using online research methods will be explored.


Module aims

This module aims to offer students an overview of documentary analysis and online research methods as deployed within contemporary social research. The module aims to develop students' understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of theses approaches to social research, and to offer an opportunity to develop practical skills in applying these approaches.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Have a comprehensive understanding of the range of documentary and online methods
2 Have acquired a systematic and critical understanding of documentary and online approaches and techniques relevant to them
3 Have developed a critical and practical understanding of these methods through classroom projects
4 Be able to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these methods and their place in contemporary sociology

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

content analysis
visual sources (media texts, art historical analysis)
personal documents and biographies
life history and oral history
documentary analysis and online texts
online interviews and focus groups
ethnography in online contexts
practical and ethical constraints on online research

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to offer students the opportunity to develop both practical skills in the application of documentary analysis and online research, and a critical grasp of the potential of the various techniques within contemporary sociology. This is achieved by a combination of practical engagement where students apply the methods in question in a group setting and lectures which offer students an overview of key aspects of the techniques.

The learning and teaching methods include:

1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar or practical exercise per week. Lectures will provide an overview of the technique and seminars and practical exercise will give students an opportunity to practice their application and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have a critical awareness of a range of techniques within documentary analysis and online research, understand how they are used, and can make appropriate choices among the array of available techniques.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

A practical exercise in documentary analysis. Students will be asked to choose an artefact or artefacts and apply a recognised technique of documentary analysis to these. This demonstrates their ability to choose an appropriate technique from the array of possibilities available, to demonstrate their systematic critical and practical understanding of that technique and critically evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
A practical exercise in research design using online methods. Students will be asked to develop a research proposal making use of online methods to investigate a substantive area of their choosing. This demonstrates their ability to choose an appropriate technique from the array of possibilities available, to demonstrate their systematic critical and practical understanding of that technique and critically evaluate its strengths and weaknesses as compared to other techniques.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive verbal feedback on their performance in classroom exercises, which are designed to give opportunities to try out the techniques discussed in class, to practice their critical skills and to evaluate the different contribution which the various methods make to  contemporary sociology. An opportunity to submit a short draft of the online methods assessment for written formative feedback will be provided. Formative feedback will focus on developing students’ ability to make and justify appropriate methodological choices.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research Methods MSc 2 Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 50% to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.