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SOCI201 Sociological Research in Practice

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An introduction to how sociological research is undertaken, with a specific focus on how to research social problems in New Zealand society, research design, ethical considerations and techniques of sociological data collection.

The ability to conduct rigorous social scientific research is a valuable and sought-after skill that opens up a multitude of employment opportunities. This paper introduces the core techniques used by social scientists to conduct qualitative and quantitative research. The main objective of the paper is to prepare a sound research-funding proposal that relies on both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. SOCI 201 feeds into SOCI 301, which offers a paper solely devoted to mixed methods.

Paper title Sociological Research in Practice
Paper code SOCI201
Subject Sociology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $929.55
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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(SOCI 101 or SOCI 102 or SOCI 103) or 54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
May not be credited together with GEOG280 passed before 2005.

Suitable for undergraduate students interested conducting social science research.


Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Martin Tolich

Paper Structure

The paper is divided up into six interrelated sections:

  • In the first part of the paper we will get to grips with what the research process entails and examine the underlying philosophical principles of research methodology
  • The second block of lectures interrogates key components of the research process, including the literature review, problem statement and research question, as well as design, sampling and data collection techniques that are relevant to qualitative and quantitative research
  • In the third section we will map out a third methodological pathway that combines qualitative and quantitative approaches
  • In the fourth component, we will turn the lens back on ourselves and consider what it means to be ethical, critically engaged, reflexive researchers
  • In the fifth component, we will learn how to present and analyse data and write up our research findings
  • In the sixth component, we compare and contrast exemplars of contemporary social science research in New Zealand
Teaching Arrangements
Two 50-minute lectures per week
One 50-minute compulsory tutorial per week

Tolich, Martin and Davidson, Carl. (2018) Social Science Research in New Zealand Auckland: Auckland University Press.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will
  • Become familiar with a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods in the social sciences
  • Identify the differences in philosophical perspectives and understand the research implications arising from them
  • Develop a sound research question
  • Draft a literature review
  • Distinguish between inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Distinguish between linear and iterative research processes
  • Establish validity and test reliability of research measures
  • Define and operationalise key concepts
  • Distinguish between and draw different types of samples
  • Learn about survey research and formulate survey questions
  • Learn how to conduct interviews and develop an interview schedule
  • Learn how to constitute and conduct focus groups and develop focus group probes
  • Become familiar with field and ethnographic research
  • Use a mixed-methods approach in designing research
  • Be aware of ethical concerns related to research with human subjects and be able to resolve them
  • Learn how to capture, present and analyse qualitative and quantitative data

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22
Wednesday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 10-15, 17-22
T2 Thursday 14:00-14:50 10-15, 17-22