This was a challenging task that is appropriate for masters’ study. The majority of students were able to:

  • Identify a suitable topic based on high quality (mainly academic sources)
  • Outline a coherent and feasible research design and communicate this clearly and convincingly
  • Identify the criteria used to ensure and evaluate the quality of different kinds of research

The table below provides a summary of the average marks for the module and the % of students who achieved 70% or above or achieved less than 50%. The average marks for last year’s cohort are also shown.

Feedback on individual tasks in Assignment 2

  1. Identify a gap in the research for a topic that is of interest to you and develop a relevant research question on this topic.

Most students were able identify a suitable topic based on high quality (mainly academic sources) and indicate what their study aims were.

The best assignments articulated the rationale for their study clearly, creating a persuasive argument based on high quality academic evidence. They also outlined the research questions and objectives clearly and in so doing it was evident that these aligned with the overall study purpose.

Weaker assignments used very little/no academic evidence. Some students provided a literature review but they did not make it clear what the rationale was for their own proposed study. The rationale for the study was not made clear and the contribution of the proposed study was not evident. Some assignments did not offer research questions at all or included research questions that were not feasible, clear or difficult to make sense of.

  1. Outline how this research question could be investigated

The best assignments proposed feasible research designs which indicated very clearly how the research questions would be addressed and they supported these plans and ideas with high quality evidence form academic sources. Decisions were justified with supporting evidence. They also made it clear exactly how the proposed activities would be achieved anticipating potential barriers and tensions in the approach thereby showing a critical engagement with the plans and the research process. The best assignments also provided a clear rationale for the suggested philosophical positioning of the research study – that is they not only identified an appropriate position they also explained why this position was appropriate and what the implications were for this position.

Weaker assignments typically were mainly descriptive and focused on the activities/plans with less consideration the reasons why this was the appropriate approach or acknowledgment of the consequences of adopting a particular approach. Students needed to explain why a decision had been made and what the consequences of this decision might be in order to show their wider understanding of research methods. Some proposals were unfeasible (e.g. required the involvement of participants that were not accessible with no recognition that this was an issue (e.g. premier league footballers)), not well thought out and very difficult to follow.

Weaker assignments typically identified an appropriate position but did not explain why this was the case or indicate what the implications of this were for the study design.

Many students suggested plans to adopt probability sampling but did not recognise that probability sampling requires/is reliant on being able to develop a sampling frame.

  1. Explain how you would ensure that each of these two approaches results in high quality research.

The best assignments were able to identify that different criteria can be used to assess the quality of qualitative and quantitative research and they were able to explain why this is the case by referring to methodological coherence and philosophical underpinnings of research.

Weaker assignments described a range of different criteria without explaining when these criteria may be used and why there are different criteria. Some students did not attempt this task and others discussed criteria in ways that showed limited or very poor/ understanding.

How could I have done better on this assignment and in future assignments?

Knowledge and Understanding

This dimension is based on your ability to demonstrate your understanding of the module specifically. Being knowledgeable on its own is not sufficient.

You will demonstrate this understanding by:

  • Directly addressing the questions that are asked in the task – If you are asked for a research question provide one
  • Creating a coherent, well structured piece of work that shows the reader you know what you are talking about
  • Using supporting evidence to back up your arguments – academic work requires you to provide high quality and recent evidence to back up your arguments

Critical Thinking and Analysis

This dimension is based on your ability to critically engage with the topics you are discussing and avoid just describing them. Again critical engagement needs to be linked directly to the issues you are discussing.

You will demonstrate this critical thinking by:

  • Justifying the claims you make – explain why and not just what
  • Outlining the implications of what you have said – e.g. This is important because, This raises questions about, This contradicts previous studies which show…, This is concerning because…
  • Providing balanced arguments – what are the positives and negatives?

Reading and Research

Good academic work requires wider reading. When awarding marks here we are not simply looking for a long reference list instead we want see all of the following:

  • The student has engaged in reading a range of different sources
  • High quality academic sources have been prioritised. Websites are fine in moderation but as masters students they cannot be the primary source for your ideas and arguments
  • That the reading has actually informed what has been written
  • That students have paraphrased, summarised and synthesised the work of others to answer the specific questions that were asked – not cut and paste and rearranged!!
  • The work of other authors is acknowledged and correctly cited fully using standard referencing approaches
  • All claims supported by evidence – this is the heart of good academic work

Weaker assignments

  • Used dated (old) and poor quality sources (solely or predominantly)
  • Cut and paste the work of others and blended it into paragraphs. This is visible within Turnitin and should be avoided
  • Were based on minimal reading and as such students lost marks on the other criteria – it is not possible to convince the marker you have good understanding if you do not do the reading
  • Did not support claims with evidence. It needs to be very evident to the reader what is the basis on which the claims are being made?
  • Used incorrect referencing style

Presentation and Communication

The best assignments:

  • Have a clear and logical structure that the reader could follow and make sense of easily with very little effort
  • Communicated clearly with the reader so the reader knew what exactly was proposed and why this was the case.
  • Made it clear specifically how the discussion related specifically to the assignment tasks
  • Were produced to a high standard.

The weakest assignments:

  • Lacked a coherent structure and were very difficult to read and make sense of – It was not clear what was being proposed or why
  • Contained errors (e.g. spelling, typos)
  • Used long paragraphs instead of breaking text into smaller manageable paragraphs which contained 1 or 2 key points
  • Were not presented to a high standard (messy) and gave the impression of being rushed – e.g. inconsistent font, gaps in sentences
  • If you include a diagram you need to draw out the key points for the reader – do not insert a diagram and expect the reader to make sense of it