PROGRAMME SPECIFICATION Awarding body: University College London Teaching institution:

Postgraduate Diploma Social Science Research Methods
Awarding body: University College London
Teaching institution: University College London Institute of Education
Details of accreditation by a professional/statutory body:
Name of the final award:
Postgraduate Diploma Social Science Research Methods
Programme title:
Postgraduate Diploma Social Science Research Methods
UCAS/admission code:
Criteria for admission to the programme
Applicants are expected to have a good honours degree (2.2 or above). European or
international applicants are expected to have qualifications at an equivalent level.
Non-traditional and under-represented students are actively encouraged to apply
Applicants will normally have some related professional experience.
Applicants whose first language is a language other than English will be required to
provide evidence of their English language proficiency.
The UCL Institute of Education is committed to admitting and supporting participants
with disabilities and welcomes applications from them.
We provide support for students with a range of conditions which have a long-term
and adverse effect on studying such as:
 Sensory (visual/hearing/speech) impairments
 Mental health issues
 Mobility or dexterity impairments
 Asperger’s Syndrome or other autistic spectrum disorders
 Chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy, H.I.V.)
Specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia)
Disability and Wellbeing Support will also advise people who have a temporary
mobility/dexterity impairment/other difficulty as a result of an accident, injury, illness
or surgery.
Every person is treated as an individual, and we invite you to contact us as early as
possible so that we can consider your needs and tailor our support to meet them.
This applies to all students – home, EU and international.
Educational Aims of the programme
Programme Rationale
This programme was originally designed in response to the HEFCE Postgraduate
Support Scheme (PSS) and is essentially a “pre-doctoral programme”. It provides
previously under-represented groups with a pathway into doctoral programmes at
IOE or elsewhere, and adds to the existing range of programmes offered within the
CDE and the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). As a ten month PGT
award, it will enable potential doctoral students to assess whether they are suitable
candidates for a research degree programme without first committing themselves to
an MRes or integrated MPhil/PhD or EdD. In addition it provides an opportunity to
acquire advanced level research skills to those students who may choose simply to
complete the programme and return to the labour market. Although the programme
is intensive in character (1200 learning hours over 8 months = approximately 35
learning hours per week), our experience within the DTC over the last three years
has been that there is increasing appetite among applicants for research degree
programmes – especially mature applicants working in professional settings – to
complete initial training as rapidly as possible and move on to the next stage in their
career, even if this does mean a demanding workload. This programme is
specifically intended to meet this appetite and to provide the basis for potential
progression to funded doctoral programmes either within the DTC or elsewhere by a)
guaranteeing that students will meet the criteria for 1+3 (MPhil/PhD only)
studentships, and b) targeting the development of a research proposal as the final
programme assignment. On completion of the programme, eligible students will be
able to move directly into Year 2 (the Institution Focused Study stage) of the EdD,
whilst simultaneously completing their taught Foundations of Professionalism course.
The programme covers a broad range of research skills in social science, drawing on
and developing further the courses offered within the existing IOE EdD programme.
As well as providing the students with broad knowledge of social science
methodologies, research designs and implementing research (as covered on the
EdD modules Methods of Enquiry 1 and 2), this programme includes two additional
modules designed to promote critical awareness and provide practical support in the
development of appropriate research questions and of research proposals for
funders. In addition, embedded within the second module is a practical research
placement of four to six weeks, providing hands-on experience of academic research
for those students contemplating study at doctoral level.
Programme aims
The core four modules are:
1. Developing Research Questions (the key role of research questions in
research in both academic and professional contexts; relating research
questions to existing evidence and identifying gaps in knowledge;
operationalising research questions and determining appropriate
2. Methods of Investigation (introduction to a broad range of social science
methodologies; four- to six-week research placement attached to an existing
project in the student’s field of interest, providing direct and accelerated
experience of real research).
3. Designing a Research Study (tutor-supported exercise in designing, running
and reporting on a preliminary small-scale study in students’ own areas of
4. Developing a Research Proposal (taught input on different forms of research
proposal, including funding proposals; tutor-supported work on developing
students’ own proposals).
The aims of the programme are:
To help you develop into a potential research student who can develop and
critically evaluate research questions;
To provide you with a broad understanding of social science research
methodologies and to see the links between these methodologies and
research questions;
To enable you to select appropriate social science research methods to
explore identified research questions;
To enhance your knowledge of different forms of research proposal and the
complexities of applying for funding;
To provide an opportunity for those of you without a strong quantitative skills
background to develop adequate skills for further doctoral study in a
quantitative social science;
To offer a supportive environment in which you can assess your own
suitability for further research degree studies, focusing on those from nontraditional pathways into research degrees.
Relevant subject benchmark statements and other external and internal
reference points used to inform programme outcomes
Programme outcomes: knowledge and understanding; skills and other attributes
Knowledge and Understanding:
1. Students should be able to frame appropriate research questions and critically
evaluate the research questions of others.
2. Students will develop their knowledge of social science methodologies. They
will develop their understanding of the link between research questions and
the social science methodologies used within a research project.
3. Students will be able to select appropriate research designs to answer their
research question and be able to defend their choice of methods used.
4. Students will hone their experience of developing different types of research
proposal and develop an understanding of the different types of research
proposals required by different funding bodies.
5. Students will be able to select appropriate quantitative methods to address
their research question and will be able to justify their choice of methods.
Intellectual and Professional Skills:
1. Students will be able to successfully frame their research ideas into
appropriate research questions as well as develop skills to operationalizes
these research questions
2. Students will be able to work in a research environment
3. Students will be able to undertake a small-scale study of their own
4. Students will be able to produce research proposals for a range of different
purposes, including further research degree study
Personal Development:
1. Students will be able to self-evaluate their suitableness as a doctoral
candidate both in terms of prior knowledge/research experience and in terms
of personal commitment to further study
2. Students will have developed a range of research skills in an intensive mode
that will be useful in research roles in academia and the wider labour market
As a pre-doctoral programme these learning objectives have been developed taking
account of the QAA guidance on the characteristics of a doctoral degree and the
skills required of a doctoral candidate. These learning outcomes are level 7
outcomes designed to develop the skills in the students needed to undertake a level
8 programme.
QAA (2011) Doctoral Degree Characteristics, QAA, London, ISBN 978 1 84979 372
Teaching, learning and assessment strategies to enable outcomes to be
achieved and demonstrated
Knowledge and Understanding:
1. This is developed through the online portfolio of tasks undertaken in module
one, and assessed by means of a 5,000 word assignment, informed by
reflection on the on-line tasks.
2. This is developed and assessed through a reflective diary kept during the
four-to-six week research placement within module two.
3. This is assessed by tutor-supported exercises in designing, running and
reporting on a preliminary small-scale study in the students’ own areas of
interest in module three.
4. This is assessed by tutor-supported work on developing students’ own
proposals within module four.
5. This is assessed through engagement and completion of the intensive
quantitative skills modules.
Intellectual and Professional Skills:
1. This is developed through the online portfolio of tasks undertaken in module
one, and assessed by means of a 5,000 word assignment, informed by
reflection on the on-line tasks.
2. This is developed and assessed through a reflective diary kept during the
four-to-six week research placement within module two.
3. This is assessed by tutor-supported exercise in designing, running and
reporting on a preliminary small-scale study in students’ own areas of interest
in module three.
4. This is assessed by tutor-supported work on developing students’ own
proposals within module four
Personal Development:
1. This is developed and assessed through the completion of the programme
2. This is developed and assessed through the completion of the programme
3. This is developed by gaining access to PGR courses
Information about assessment regulations
All modules are assessed through the equivalent of a 5000 word assignment:
Module 1 requires students to reflect on class and online discussion and write a
reflective assignment about how their research questions have developed over the
duration of the module and to evaluate these against identified criteria.
Module 2 is all online with the addition of a research placement. Students keep an
online journal and write a 5000 word reflection bringing together the component
elements of the programme: readings, online synchronous discussion via
Collaborate, research placement and extracts from their research journals.
Module 3 comprises a 1000 word research proposal, ethical approval and a 5000
word assignment which reports and reflects on the undertaking of empirical pilot
Module 4 comprises a 4000 research proposal (which can be easily adapted for IFS
proposal for the EdD or for MPhil/PhD and ESRC/AHRC applications. Students also
conduct a 1000 word per review to demonstrate their understanding of what makes a
good research proposal.
Draft assignments are requested and feedback provided. Students complete a cover
sheet and are asked to complete a statement about how previous feedback has
supported their learning and what specific feedback (other than in relation to the
grade related criteria) they would like. For final assignments, grades A – C are given
to those who are successful and grade D to those who are not.
Written formative feedback is provided on draft assignments and summative
feedback on final assignments. We also provide general feedback which
summarises common areas for improvement.
Support for learning
Prior to the start of the programme, prospective students are invited to an
information evening to give further details about the programme, the research
placement, the core text and the organisation of teaching and learning.
Two induction days at the commencement of the programme informs participants of
the programme content, methods and expectations, and introduces them to the
Academic Writing Centre (a session is also conducted on reading and writing with
criticality); to the library services and to Moodle and Collaborate. Assignment
briefings are given at the outset of each module and explicit links to the requirements
of the assignment are revisited at each session.
Programme and module handbooks (on Moodle pages) offer full guidance and
advice on studying, writing and submitting assignments.
The programme leader is available to advise all participants on academic matters,
and to refer them to the range of support services available at the UCL IOE.
Students are allocated a personal tutor from the outset and students are encouraged
to liaise with their designated tutor at any time for any issues concerning their
progress and learning.
Formative feedback is provided on draft assignments to take forward to the final
Peer support and networking is facilitated in the group by the use of virtual learning
environment (VLE) and collaborative projects.
Participants are all inducted on the use of the library and information services, and of
the VLE operating system.
A Pre-programme letter sent from the Programme Leader outlining the programme
structure, content and resources.
Methods for evaluating and improving the programme
Mechanisms for review and evaluation of teaching, learning, assessment, the
curriculum and outcome standards include:
 Module evaluation by participants
 Termly meetings of the Programme Committee including student
 Annual programme review prepared by programme team and considered by
Faculty learning and teaching committee
 Periodic programme review and revalidation involving external panel member
 Staff review and development
 External examiner reports
Programme structures and requirements, levels, modules, credits and awards
The PGDipSSRM comprises four related modules:
Developing Research Questions
(FIOER195B Module 1: Developing Research Questions
Face-to-face supported by asynchronous online discussion
10 Wednesday evenings
30 Credits
(Jan Start)
Methods of Investigation
30 Credits
(FIOER205B Module 2: Methods of Investigation
(March Start)
Synchronous online sessions on Wednesday evenings supported by prompts from
tutors. Students also undertake a research placement – this is ‘fluid’ in that
depending on the stage of the research placement students are attached to will
depend on the mode of attendance and participation
Designing a Research Study
30 Credits
FIOER215B Module 3: Designing a Research Study
(May Start)
First and last sessions are f2f and the middle eight are online as above for Module 2.
Again, all sessions are on Wednesday evenings
Developing a Research Proposal
(FIOER185B Module 4: Developing a Research Proposal
All sessions are f2f.
30 Credits
(July Start)
In addition, students may wish to take a quantitative data analysis course. Two
options are available: either 10 face-to-face day time sessions run across two weeks
during May or a ten-week face-to-face evening course on consecutive Thursday
evenings in the autumn term.
ECTS: The Institute of Education uses the European Credit Transfer and
Accumulation System (ECTS), as a guide to support periods of study undertaken
abroad and to assist student mobility. Currently it is assumed that two UK credits
equate to one ECTS. Therefore a module of 30 credits would typically equate to 15
ECTS credits.
Mode of study
The programme is full time – attendance spans from January-August with no breaks
for academic terms and final assessment is in October with exam board being held
in December.
Language of study
The UCL Institute of Education teaches and assesses participants through the
medium of the English language. Competence in English language is required of all
applicants. Programme regulations may indicate the level of competence required of
each applicant and may make its achievement a condition of admission
Indicators of quality and standards
progression to higher level award programmes;
success in securing scholarships for research degrees;
promotion to management or higher level roles in their place of work – in
particular, taking responsibility for research;
programme participants teaching other practitioners in their own institutions or
on a regional or national basis;
participation in continuing professional development programmes;
publication of outstanding work in peer reviewed journals;
external examiner’s appraisal of how standards compare with other
Date at which the programme specification was written or revised. Initials of
27 April 2016 ST