PP0724 - The Empirical Project

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What will I learn on this module?

You will be encouraged to critically explore a range of approaches to research however emphaisis will be placed on your understanding of the world view, design and meaning system that will drive your own research study. It is assumed that prior to the undertaking of this dissertation module you will have undertaken study that prepares you for engagement with a Masters dissertation process and that you will have constructed a robust research proposal that has gained or is in the process of gaining ethical approval from both the University and (if applicable) your employing organisation. In the module you will revisit and deepen your understandings of a range of key topic areas linked to the empirical research process, this will include discussion of world views and research paradigms, the research question, aim or hypothesis, research design, working with literature and theory, developing ethical codes, constructing the research sample, collecting robust research evidence, ensuring quality assurance within your research work, analysing both qualitative and quantitative evidence and writing and disseminating the research dissertation work. You will be invited to attend a series of research seminars during the module and you will have access to a named Higher Education supervisor for one to one tutorial work. Both the seminars and tutorials will encourage you to apply the key areas of learning within this module to your own professional context and field of expertise. This will enable you to critically examine how the empirical research process will work best for your research goals and design.

How will I learn on this module?

You will participate in this module as an active learner. The module will be built around a number of individual and group learning activities that will help you to explore the different aspects of undertaking a robust empirical research study. You will work with a named Higher Education supervisor for the duration of your research project. This will involve you in 12 hours of one to one contact with this individual. The tutorial work that you undertake will be focused on your research study and should follow the path of the study as it unfolds. This one to one support will enable you to explore areas of the work that are troublesome and the critical dialogue that it enables will help you to develop your understanding of the theoretical, methodological and practical aspects of your research process. In addition to tutorial work you will be encouraged to attend a series of research seminars that will also follow the path of your research project during the span of your programme. The research seminars normally involve a small group of individuals form a variety of programmes who are all immersed in empirical work. This group of peers is seen to be invaluable to the social learning processes that drive module PP0724. During each seminar it is expected that individuals will share their research challenges and successes. The sharing of understandings and experiences will be an integral part of the way in which the module helps to socially construct individuals perceptions of their work. The module aims to enable you to develop an effective and successful research study and also to focus on your own development as a proficient researcher.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will work with a named Higher Education supervisor for the duration of this Masters module. A total of 12 hours has been allocated per academic year for you and your HE supervisor to meet to discuss your ongoing research work. These meetings will be organised at times that are mutually convenient. The named HE supervisor will be your primary source of support during the PP0724 module and will normally act as first marker to your Masters dissertation. You will need to make contact with this individual at an early stage of the PP0724 module and ensure that you maintain regular contact as the module unfolds. The appointment of HE supervisors will be organised by the programme lead of the programme that you have followed during the PG Certificate and PG Diploma phases of your studies. The HE supervisor will also be pivotal in helping you to negotiate your way through the internal University ethical approval process and the external ethical approval process should you need to engage with this. The module leader for PP0724 will also be an important source of support during your studies. This person will normally provide the research seminars that are part of this module. Various experts in aspects of the empirical research process may also be invited to contribute to the seminar series. You will also be asked to identify a member of staff within your own organisation who could play the role of Practice Support Person during the module. The main purpose of identifying such an individual within your organisation is to provide you with a further consultative/advisory ‘resource’ who also has some insight into Masters level study and can help you to develop your research work.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Conceptualise the research topic and establish its relevance to the practice area/field of expertise.
• Define the study protocol in terms of the research question, methodology, and methods of data collection & analysis

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• Carry out an extended literature review to support and develop the research question.
• Develop and implement a small-scale empirical study to explore a research question.
• Analyse and interpret the outcomes of the study giving due regard to issues of reliability, validity, rigour, trustworthiness and reflexivity.
• Report the outcomes of the study in a written format for an academic audience.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• Examine critically the ethical issues related to their project.

How will I be assessed?

Formative: In this module formative assessment will normally be provided during the one to one tutorials where you will be encouraged to share parts of your written work with your HE supervisor prior to final submission. Additional formative feedback will come from the sharing of project work during classroom discussions. Covers all MLOs.

Summative: Assessment of the module will be by a final project report (15,000 words) in which you present the project in an appropriate academic style supported from the current literature base and accurately referenced. Different types of empirical project may require a different structure/organisation, for example, qualitative empirical projects are likely to have a longer and wordier findings section, as several direct quotes from respondents will need to be included. Efficient use of appendices, especially in the chronology section, will help keep your word count down. Guidance on the structure of the dissertation will be provided in the module handbook and discussed during the research seminars and individual tutorials. Covers all MLOs.


Normally module participants will have undertaken a level 7 research module that enables them to construct a robust research project proposal prior to commencing the empirical project module.


There are no co-requisite modules.

Module abstract

This module focuses on yourself as a researcher and provides an opportunity for the collection and analysis of primary qualitative and/or quantitative data for the purpose of answering a specific research question that is relevant and importanet to your practice and field of expertise. A range of research methodologies and methods may be appropriate to this work. The empirical project should aim to develop understanding of the focus of your work and may also help to transform practice at the individual and/or systems level. You will be supported in the module by a named Higher Education supervisor and through the provision of a series of research seminars. Assessment of the module is by a final project report (15000 words) in which the project is presented in an appropriate academic style. Module PP0724 will uphold the ethos of adult education, you will be encouraged to operate in a collegial and collaborative manner and to share and deepen your research based understandings through critical dialogue with your HE supervisor and module peer group.

Course info

Credits 60

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2019

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