SOCI402-18S1 (C) Semester One 2018

Methods and Strategies in Research

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2018
End Date: Sunday, 24 June 2018
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 2 March 2018
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 18 May 2018


This course centres around the development of research skills by students and a critical understanding of research carried out by others.


Sociology is a substantive discipline – it seeks to examine and explain the social world by generalizing on the basis of evidence. It is also a disputative discipline. Sociological enquiry is shaped by debates over how to  best  examine and explain the social world. One of the central professional sociological skills is to know how to investigate social issues in ways that will generate valid and useful evidence. Known as social research methods, this aspect of sociological practice has ongoing debates about social explanation. The debates come from tensions between competing philosophical perspectives and the different models of sound evidence they generate. To be able to undertake social research, sociologists need to know about these core debates and how they influence the nuts and bolts of social research. They also need to know about a broad range of research tools and techniques and what makes them the most appropriate ones for the issue under investigation. Last, but not least, doing good research involves knowing how to make the right decision about what to do. The overarching goal of Soci 402 is to help students learn how to figure out the best way to approach a piece of research.
Four pillars underpin and synthesis all the teaching in the sociology curriculum. They are pillar one: Theory and Investigation; pillar two: Bodies, technologies and identities; pillar three:  Time  and Place;  pillar four:  Controversies and Control.  In achieving competency in the four identified areas, a firm grounding in the key domains of sociology will be achieved by graduating students.
Soci 402 comes under pillar one, theory and investigation which articulates Canterbury sociology’s strong and longstanding commitment to teaching social theory and social research. Learning the fundamentals of sociological theory and investigative methods is essential to the discipline and central to any degree in sociology. In terms of Sociology’s Graduate profile, it directly connects to learning outcome 3: developing research skills. It more generally meets other teaching objectives 1: developing skills in critical enquiry, 2: developing skills in analysis and 6: developing skills in writing and scholarship. Soci 402 therefore makes a core contribution to the graduate profile Graduate Profile.
Specific course objectives include:
• Introduce you to the history and language of research methods in sociology
• Extend your understanding of research in sociology through discussion of the process and design of a range of social research projects and techniques with researchers who are active in the field.
• Introduce you to reflexive writing as a means to encourage you to become ‘engaged researchers’ through sustained reflection on what, how, and why you do research.
• Developing a learning community in which professional researchers share their knowledge, understanding and experience of research in ways that foster your own understanding, skill and insight as social researchers in training.

Learning Outcomes

  • Specific student objectives are that by taking this course, you will
  • demonstrate a familiarity with methodological debates in social research.
  • be able to examine a range of research strategies and methods, critically evaluate and assess the appropriateness of their use.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the ethical dimensions of conducting research.
  • know how to approach a piece of research to make effective methods decisions (in Soci 470)
  • be  confident analysing an existing piece of research and discussing methodology with practicing social researchers
  • be confident embarking on a research project for the first time


Subject to approval of the Head of School.

Course Coordinator

Ruth McManus

Links to the Sociology Honours programme:
The sociology honours programme is a series of advanced level courses that cover both the core elements of the discipline and cutting edge topics based on current research in the field. Soci402 is a core compulsory paper in the Sociology Honours Programme. It links to other Sociology Honour papers in that Soci402 introduces students to central methodological issues and associated strategies and prepares students for their individual research project in soci470. Soci402 will help you understand and critique research reported in literature you read in other courses.

This course combines guest seminars by researchers in the Sociology programme, with tutorials facilitated by the course co-ordinator, written and oral assignments.
The guest seminar researchers are tasked with helping you gain insight into some research methods that they are familiar with and use in their own research. In each seminar, students need to “interrogate” the researcher about their research methods and projects using the seminar check sheet. This will encourage you, as the student, to engage with the substantive material and the conceptual issues that underlie any piece of research. It also prompts you to reflect on the different methods the seminar leaders introduce in relation to mixed methods in social research.


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Oral Presentation 20% Presentation date arranged at start of semester
Critical essay 27 Apr 2018 40%
Research essay 15 Jun 2018 40%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Becker, Howard Saul; Tricks of the trade : how to think about your research while you're doing it; University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Plano Clark, Vicki L. , Creswell, John W; The mixed methods reader; Sage Publications, 2008.

Readings will be available on Learn

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,811.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All SOCI402 Occurrences

  • SOCI402-18S1 (C) Semester One 2018