Centre for Continuing Education

Research Methods and Design in Social Science Course

Business Communication. Sharpen your communication skills.

Research methods and design allow us to better understand the world – one that is increasingly online. This course is designed to provide you with the necessary skills and competencies to formulate, design and execute social science and business research. You will also learn methods to collect, interpret and analyse data that will allow you to answer important questions within your organisation or business.


This course aims to provide you with a practical toolkit to collect, interpret and analyse data about our world, whether relating to businesses or relationships. You will develop core competencies to undertake research enquiry from beginning to end with skill sets that will benefit both you and the organisation you work for.

This course specifically focuses on qualitative empirical methods commonly used in the social sciences and business management.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • define research questions and set appropriate research objectives
  • collect, interpret and analyse data using main techniques within the social science empirical research inquiry
  • discuss methodological trade-offs and comprehend the logic of each methodological choice
  • recognise common qualitative and mixed-method approaches to social science research inquiry
  • test hypothesis relevant to your professional background and formulate research design
  • evaluate research proposal based on feasibility and merit
  • identify potential sources of bias when conducting research using selected qualitative methodologies
  • know when ethics applications are needed and how to approach ethical challenges in your research.


Introduction and key concepts

  • Class survey
  • What is research design and inquiry in social science?
  • Qualitative research

Research question and design

  • Research question and design
  • Causation, concepts, indicators, measurement


  • Empirical evidence vs non-empirical evidence

Case selection

  • How do we select cases?
  • Sampling
  • Bias


  • Methodological trade-offs
  • Key qualitative methods
  • Participant observation
  • Interview
  • Survey
  • Ethnography
  • Process tracing
  • Archival research

Ethics and conclusion

Intended audience

Anyone who would like to learn the necessary skills and competencies to formulate, design and execute research.

Delivery style

This is an interactive course. You will learn through a variety of methods including:

  • in-class assignments and hands-on exercises
  • small group discussions
  • an oral presentation of your ideas
  • Q&A sessions with the tutor.


A course pack will be provided during class.

Bring your own device

You are required to bring your own device (Windows or Mac). You should ensure your device is fully charged as access to power is limited. Please note that University does not carry any responsibility for your lost, stolen, or damaged devices whilst on the University premises.

Recommended reading

Punch, K. 2013, Introduction to Social Research (3rd ed.), Sage, London, UK.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Free, expert advice
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion