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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Research Design for the Social Sciences
Module Code LG609
School School of Law & Government
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Iain McMenamin
Semester 2: Iain McMenamin
Autumn: Iain McMenamin
Module TeachersEoin O'Malley
Iain McMenamin
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

This module provides an overview of basic issues of research design for students engaging in empirical research in the social sciences broadly understood, including Business and Law. This includes thinking about research questions and strategies for empirical investigation with a view to increasing the validity of the findings. The material is consistent with a post-positivist epistemology.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand the basic rules of research design for PhD theses and how to apply them
2. Analyse and critically assess the research design of other scholars
3. Understand the principles undergirding the preparation of a research prospectus for a PhD thesis
4. Demonstrate discipline specific communication skills in the public presentation of a PhD prospectus

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture11Lectures to the class on research design
Seminars11Class presentations, feedback on presentations
Independent Study103Preparation of class presentations, written assignments, and further study
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Ontology and epistemology
What is in the world? What can we know about the world

Description and explanation
How does the world appear? How do we go about explaining how the world appears?

Validity and reliability
Introduces the concepts of validity and reliability. Presents common types of fallacious reasoning

Introduces variables - explanatory, dependent, control, mediator variables

Conditional vs. probabilistic reasoning
Presents two different types of inquiry

Case-specific vs. inferential reasoning
Universe of cases, sample of cases, representativeness.

Correlation (association) vs causation.Three basic rules necessary for identifying causation.

Comparative research design
Rules for case selection

Cross-section and time-series cross-sectional research design
Introduces different types of comparative research design strategies

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentStudents are required to critically assess the research design of an academic article published within the last 5 years in a leading journal (i.e. from an ISI journal with a high citation count). The article should be related to the student's PhD topic. The choice of article needs to be agreed with the module director prior to the submission of the assessment.50%Week 7
AssignmentStudents are required to produce a draft research prospectus. In the prospectus, the student should state the research question, specify the value-added of the thesis, and set out the basic research design that it is proposed to adopt in the work.50%Week 12
PresentationEach student will present a 30-second 'elevator pitch' of their thesis topic to the class early on in the module0%n/a
PresentationEach student is expected to make a 10-minute presentation on their PhD proposal to the class. This will be followed by 15 minutes of questions.0%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • della Porta, D., & Keating, M. eds.: 2008, Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences: A Pluralist Perspective, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
  • Maggetti, M., Radaelli, C., & Gilardi, F.: 2013, Designing Research in the Social Sciences, Sage, London,
  • King, G., Keohane, R., & Verba, S.: 1994, Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton University Press,
  • Gerring, J.: 0, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
Other Resources

This module will replace the current module, LG600 Research Design. The existing module is credited as a year-long, 10-credit module. The new module is a one-semester, 5-credit module.
Programme or List of Programmes
MPBSMPhil (Business)
MPLGMPhil (Law & Government)

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