In the first year you will undertake four ESRC approved taught Research Methods modules. These modules are designed to provide you with the necessary skills to both successfully complete your PhD, and to develop as a well-rounded researcher. We also offer additional training in specific topics through our Summer School in Advanced Research Methods – which helps to develop advanced skills in areas related to your specific topic.
In line with ESRC initiatives, the Research Methods course is co-taught by experts within ABS and the School of Languages and Social Sciences (LSS) and involves modules on (1) Philosophy of Social Science Research, (2) Research Design, Practice and Ethics, (3) Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods, and (4) Foundations in Qualitative Research Methods.
These modules are designed to support the development of your research project and, ultimately, support the submission of a final Qualifying Report towards the end of Year 1. The Qualifying Report is an extended research proposal that details your proposed research aims and objectives, contributions to current academic and – where appropriate – practitioner knowledge, and the research strategy, design, and methods you intend to employ to meet these aims and objectives. You are required to defend your Qualifying Report through a viva voce oral examination involving two ABS academic examiners, one of whom will be familiar with the subject area. Upon successful completion of this examination, you will then be allowed to proceed onto the PhD Programme.
During the second year you will typically concentrate on obtaining ethical approval for your research, before focusing on data collection and analysis. For some students this will involve travel to external research sites where data is collected. Towards the end of Year 2, you are required to communicate and defend your research progress. This is either through:
An oral presentation of all, or part, of your research
The write up of all, or part, of your research as a journal paper/article (without the requirement to submit for publication
The write up of all, or part, of your research in the form of an empirical chapter that would constitute part of your thesis.
Year three is typically a writing up year, where you will spend most of your time developing your thesis. We also encourage all students to submit to important academic conferences in order to communicate their research to an external audience and obtain essential feedback before submitting their final thesis for viva voce examination towards the end of Year 3. Attending conferences, and receiving feedback, is also an essential first step in getting your research published in top tier academic journals in your discipline.