What you will study
To what extent should a social and psychological researcher care about the issues that arouse public concern? Is a researcher who is affected by policy developments an engaged researcher or a compromised one? This module begins your journey in postgraduate study by bringing into critical focus the practices of conducting and communicating social and psychological research today. The module equips you to ask questions about how research gets constructed and who is doing the construction. Designed for students fascinated by the dynamics of research who wish to actively intervene in professional or everyday environments influenced by social and psychological research.
Upon completion of this module you will have the training in how to appraise qualitative and quantitative analysis and assess the veracity of different methods. You will be equipped to confidently assess social and psychological studies and communicate your assessments to academic and non-academic audiences, offline and online. You will also gain a new skill for your own professional contexts on how to observe a social problem or phenomenon, frame it, and ask new questions about it.
This interdisciplinary module draws from criminology, cognitive studies, counselling, forensic and social psychology. Topics across these fields have been selected for their contemporary relevance, including questions on criminalisation of vulnerable people, such as homeless people and people seeking refuge. They have also been chosen to problematise common-sense understandings, e.g. humanitarianism and charitable giving or restorative justice. The topics are understood in their historical and scientific context, e.g. how ‘obedience’ became constructed as the concept we must understand to ensure the horrors of World War Two could not occur again, or how ‘homosexuality’ moved from ‘mental illness’ to socio-cultural identity.
The dynamics of research are rarely linear. However, the module is framed by three stages: how research is conceived, how it is interrogated, and how it is received. These stages are organised into the following three blocks:
Block 1: Concepts, constructing and commissioning research – How scientific concepts relate to everyday categories, where the lines get drawn and who is drawing them.
Block 2: Interrogating methods – From science as uncovering an unknown world to science as constructing a new one, and when to be pragmatic and find a workable solution.
Block 3: Publics and communications – Reception, Relevance and Reactivity. How does the public receive knowledge, and can moral panic set research agendas? How to communicate and influence.
The module is taught entirely online with structured sections involving readings, podcasts and a variety of interactive media resources. There is also plenty of opportunity for postgraduate independent study to pursue your own interests. For example, in the second half of the module, you will have a chance to select and develop your own case study in line with your everyday and professional contexts, developing key professional skills in time management and project development. Your tutor will support you via the module forum, and you will have the opportunity to debate with other students, conduct peer-to-peer reviews, learn from collaborations, and also experience innovative feedback and feedforward processes.