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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

IDEA5401M Research Methods

30 creditsClass Size: 10

In light of the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on students' learning experiences, the School of PRHS have made the decision to modify assessment in Semester 2 modules in the 2020-21 academic year. Changes may involve reducing the number of assessment points (e.g. assessing one essay rather than two) or reducing word counts where it is possible to do so whilst protecting the integrity of the module's Learning Outcomes. Information on any changes to assessment is available to enrolled students in the Minerva module area, and can also be sought from the module leader or the PRHS SES team.

Module manager: Professor C Megone

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides students with training in core skills and a variety of key research methodologies for undertaking high quality research in applied ethics. It also addresses methodological issues raised in the conduct of inter-disciplinary research. It equips students to undertake a longer independent supervised dissertation on an aspect of applied ethics of their choice and affords them an excellent platform for research at doctoral level.


On completion of this module students will have a sound grounding in essential research skills. They will have grasped the basic techniques for developing research projects in applied ethics: literature reviews; annotated bibliographies; developing conceptual frameworks.

They will also have a general knowledge of the variety of methodological approaches to philosophical research, proposed and discussed since the ancient world, and their application to research in applied ethics. And they will have attained an awareness of some recent techniques such as empirical ethics, and experimental philosophy.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module, students will:

- Gain appropriate research skills, including those of bibliography and referencing;
- Have the skills to identify an appropriate topic for research;
- Have a comprehensive understanding of a range of methodological approaches to the discipline of applied ethics;
- Be able to engage in the effective application of appropriate discipline specific research methodologies;
- Have the ability to justify and comment critically on their research methodologies;


Outline syllabus: Topics for the module will include, for example,

1. Core skills: critical literature review, annotated bibliographies, conceptual frameworks
2. The dialectical method 1 – Socrates and Plato on method in ethics
3. The dialectical method 2 – Aristotle on method in ethics
4. Empiricism and method in ethics (Hume to Logical Positivism)
5. The nature and role of 'intuitions' in ethics
6. 'Revisionist' and 'descriptivist' methods in ethics
7. Contemporary discussions of analytical/dialectical method (Popper, Cooper) and neo-Aristotelian responses
8. Experimental philosophy
9. Contemporary 'empiricist medical ethics'
10. Systematic reviews in ethics
11. Inter-disciplinary research methods and challenges

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
On-line Learning21.002.00
Discussion forum102.0020.00
Independent online learning hours120.00
Private study hours158.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Independent online learning: working through guided teaching materials and exercises, and preparing for participation in online discussion forum activity.

Private study: preparation for, and production of, coursework assessment using appropriate reading resources which will be made available in digital form or via the library's online resources.

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
ReportResearch project report. To include: literature review including annotation of some key texts; abstract; identification of key topics and brief account of how they will be addressed; reflective discussion of methodology to be deployed; evaluation of the process of developing the project (5000 words)60.00
Poster PresentationResearch project poster presentation10.00
Group DiscussionOnline group discussion forum performance10.00
ReportAnnotated bibliography (1500 words)20.00
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: 10/08/2020 08:40:40


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