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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

EDUC5061M Philosophical underpinning of educational research

15 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Prof Maggie Kubanyiova

Taught: 1 Nov to 31 Dec View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is mutually exclusive with

EDUC5025MIntroduction to Educational Research Methods and Approaches
EDUC5028MFoundations of Educ Research 1

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces the philosophical dimensions of educational research. It will take level 5 students from their initial research questions and early thoughts on data through to developing a rigorously grounded conceptual and methodological framework for their research project.The focus is on critical evaluation of ideas and their utility in developing rigorous educational research that produces knowledge that advances the field and is of public value.The module will help participants to conceptualise and articulate their research problem in a rigorous way while locating that conceptualisation within a particular social science research tradition. The methodological implications of locating research in a particular tradition are examined.


To introduce key philosophical debates in social science and educational research: positivism, empiricism, relativism, the hermeneutic tradition, standpoint epistemologies

To investigate the implications of these philosophical positions for the validity and reliability of knowledge claims in educational research

To use these ideas to engage critically with ongoing philosophical and methodological debates in educational research

To support students while developing the conceptual frameworks and methodological principles to guide their research to utilise, in a justified way, particular epistemological, ontological and ethical positions

Learning outcomes
Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

- Basic philosophical issues in research relating to epistemology, ontology and ethics
- The diversity of traditions, paradigms and other concepts informing educational and social science research
- The implications of these different philosophical positions for the validity, reliability and trustworthiness of research as warrants for knowledge
- How to utilise these ideas to develop their own research, including the development of ethical approval for their project


The module will begin with participants research questions and the data that they plan to collect, and through discussion and exploration of these, introduce them to a range of different research paradigms in educational research. Working with their own research ideas and proposals, participants will explore the implications of different research traditions for the formulation of research problems, questions and the adoption of particular methodological approaches.

The main points of similarity and difference between different research traditions in relation to epistemology and ontology will be explored, and considered in relation to participants own developing research studies.

In later sessions, participants will engage in critical reflection on current debates in educational research such as generalization, the public value of knowledge produced in different traditions, the quantitative-qualitative distinction.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning53.0015.00
Independent online learning hours122.00
Private study hours0.00
Total Contact hours28.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Students will be assigned preparatory tasks for sessions 2-6.
Private study will be spent in two ways: reading and working towards the assessment.
Students will be assigned reading for sessions 2-6 to accompany the above group work.

For the module assessment, doctoral students will develop their research questions and a conceptual rationale for these, situated against a critical awareness of different research paradigms. Masters students taking the module as a freestanding optional module will write an essay extending the philosophical rationale for their proposed critical study, with reference to different research traditions and central questions in educational and social science research.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through participation in class and through tutorial discussion.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words or equivalent100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 12:18:03


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