HE7004 - Research Methods in Higher Education


Research Methods in Higher Education


20 CC   10 ECTS

Online and face-to-face small group tutorials delivered at the Exton Campus


Face to face and remote group workshop tutorials 20 hours
No placement hours relevant for this module
A combination of formative and summative assessment tasks and online guided study 180 hours

200 hours of study. This includes expected attendance at scheduled small group tutorial workshops. Preparation will be expected prior to attendance at each small group workshop tutorial and the completion of formative assessment tasks and online learning prior to and post attendance is also expected. These tasks will be posted on Moodle.
Scheduled hours Placement Hours Independent Guided study
20 0 180

It is expected that participants will attend all teaching sessions. It is also expected that participants will access online learning materials and participate in the preparation tasks prior to the workshops and the formative assessment tasks during and after the small group tutorial workshops.

  • Raising awareness of different philosophical and methodological approaches to higher education research
  • Identifying good higher education research: critically analysing a variety of research papers written from different methodological perspectives
  • Feedback from critical appraisal of higher education research papers
  • Concepts in research: reliability, validity, generalisability, reflexivity, bias
  • Ethical considerations in research design and conduct
  • Research methodologies and data collection tools: qualitative, quantitative and “mixed methods” approaches; action research
  • Preparing and writing research proposals for grant applications
  • Publishing research in learning and teaching in higher education
  • Presentations of research proposals to be peer reviewed and to receive formative feedback from tutors

  • To explore and critically evaluate theoretical, methodological and ethical issues in research into aspects of higher education.
  • To develop skills in research design, data analysis and evaluation appropriate to level 7 study.
  • To specifically support development of participants in the following dimensions of the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (HEA 2011) :

    Areas of Activity - A1 - A5 (depending on the project they undertake)

    Core Knowledge - K1- K6 (depending on the project they undertake)

    Professional Values - V1 - V4 (depending on the project they undertake)

The content will be delivered in a variety of ways. There will be presentations, and small group workshop tutorials, in a face to face and on-line context. Participants will also be expected to access, read and engage with online learning material that will be placed on the Moodle module space, in addition to retrieving, reading and evaluating a wide range of literature, as part of their independent study and as part of selecting appropriate material to bring and present to small group workshops. Formative assessment: Engagement in and preparation of tasks prior to attending small group workshop tutorials and posting of relevant material on Moodle after attendance at workshops to evidence engagement and understanding. 

On completion of this module, participants will be able to:

  1. Analyse and critically evaluate approaches to research in higher education.
  2. Identify and critically discuss the fundamental principles involved in research design, planning and conduct, including a consideration of ethical issues.
  3. Apply appropriate skills and concepts in conducting a critical review of research in an area of higher education theory and/or practice.
  4. Critically review their role as a practitioner-researcher
  5. Apply their knowledge of the research methods in HE concepts and skills obtained on the module.

Component Weighting % Learning outcome(s) assessed Assessment category

  1. A 4000 word (+/- 10%) level 7 Portfolio  [100% weighting]


Resubmission of the portfolio

Bell, J., & Waters, S. (2014). Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First-Time Researchers. Berkshire, England: Open University Press. 

Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2017). Research Methods in Education (8th ed.). London, UK: Routledge. 

Connolly, P. (2007). Quantitative Data Analysis in Education: A Critical Introduction Using SPSS. Florence, UNITED STATES: Routledge. 

Cousin, G. (2009). Researching learning in higher education. London, United Kingdom: Routledge

Daniel, B., & Harland, T. (2018). Higher Education Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Research Process.

Field, A. P. (2017). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS (5th ed.). London, United Kingdom: SAGE.

McNiff, J. (2016). You and your action research project (4th ed.). London, UK: Routledge. Retrieved from 

Silverman, D. (2014). Interpreting qualitative data (5th ed.). London, UK: SAGE.

Tong, V., Standen, A., & Sotiriou, M. (2018). Shaping Higher Education with Students: Ways to Connect Research and Teaching (Open Access PDF). UCL Press.




Dr Allison O'Sullivan

CAID Module Assessment Board

Faculty of Education and Children's Services Board of Study

Wed, 13 Jul 2022

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