This course comprises 10 sessions over a period of one term. The assessment for the course is by coursework. The details of the coursework expectations are given on the assessment page.

In addition to the intrinsic value of the course itself, we intend that the course should feed into the work that you will carry out in producing your dissertation or report. However, we cannot expect to turn you into expert researchers in what is only one sixth of your MA programme. Furthermore, we do not, ourselves, claim to be experts in all of the areas that are touched on by the course. Expertise in research is achieved by doing research, and not simply by reading and talking about it. We have our own specialisms. Nevertheless, we all have to read and evaluate research that bears on the particular problems or questions in which we are interested. Since there are no ‘correct’ methods for particular areas of research interest, the research that we read will inevitably employ a wide range of approaches and techniques. It is obviously important that we have at least a passing familiarity with the kinds of methods that are likely to be used in the research that we are likely to read. A major aim of this course, then, is to provide you with some resources that will be of value in making sense of and evaluating the research that you will come across in your MA programme as well as in other academic and professional contexts.

However, even where two researchers (or even the same researcher on different occasions) are nominally using the same research method, the processes that they actually go through may be very different indeed. Methods are generally adapted to the particular conditions of the research being undertaken. For this reason, we have avoided a ‘cookbook’ approach to research methods: this is how to conduct an interview; this is how to do participant observation; this is how to analyse a text. The first approach that we have taken is to explore the methods used by particular researchers within particular pieces of research. Through discussion of these object texts for the course, we hope to be able to highlight both generality and diversity in research relating to IT in education. Secondly, we have based part of the course upon research-oriented tasks. These will be very small-scale research exercises involving planning, the collection of data, the analysis of data, and the writing-up of research.

The approach we will take is based on the course book

Brown, A.J. & Dowling, P.C. (1998) Doing Research/Reading Research: a mode of interrogation for education. London: Falmer Press.

We expect everyone to have access to a copy of this book. Other general research books and appropriate background reading are listed in the annotated bibliography in Doing Research/Reading Research and on the references page of this site.

You may also find Paul Dowling's Online MRes module, Research and the Theoretical Field, to be helpful; you can access it here. For your purposes, you will probably find the introductions to each of the chapters to be the most useful element of the module.

The other book that is recommended for this module is

Bryman, A. (2004). Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This is a very comprehensive book on research methods that is a very useful reference book. We strongly recommend that you purchase a copy of this book as well.

See also Paul Dowling's site 'An Introduction to Research'

Your work will involve: reading books and articles that are ‘preliminary reading’ and ‘object texts’; carrying out the tasks that are set during the set seminars and in-between the sessions; participating in active discussion; and writing. Items listed under ‘preliminary reading’ AND those under ‘object texts’ must be read before the session. Where a the paper can be accessed on the web the link will take you directly to it. Items that are available electronically via the library’s ejournals page are marked accordingly.

Aims of the course

The course aims to introduce a systematic strategy for the interrogation of research relating to ICTs and education and more generally and to apply this strategy both to the critical review of published research and to the practical design, conducting and reporting of research.

Intended learning outcomes


Knowledge of key concepts in the field of educational research methods.


Ability to conduct a search of relevant literature databases and collections.


Ability to focus on the key problem or research question in reading or conducting ICT research and to evaluate the extent to which the research is successful in addressing this problem or question.


Practical experience in research design and data collection and analysis.


Knowledge of key generic features of academic writing.