SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Research Design and Epistemology

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/21
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2

This course focuses on research design and epistemology used in qualitative and quantitative research. It introduces different types of studies such as theoretical research, explorative studies, empirical studies and experimental research.

A lot of emphasis will be placed on ‘ways of knowing’, which includes a detailed discussion of ontology and epistemology in the context of management and financial research.

This course discusses how theories can be developed and how theories lead to testable hypotheses. After theories and hypotheses are derived, the focus shifts to data collection (e.g. surveys, case studies, experiments, interviews and secondary data). In particular, sampling is crucial to avoid sample selection biases (e.g. survivorship bias, non-response bias). Finally, the construction of variables is discussed, which includes latent variables (e.g. social constructs), proxies and control variables

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to…

A. Knowledge and Understanding

  • Understand the concept of research
  • Develop an understanding of theoretical perspectives (e.g., objectivism, subjectivism)
  • Understand different ways of developing theory


B. Subject Specific Intellectual (Cognitive) Skills

  • Develop researchable research questions
  • Derive testable hypotheses
  • Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of research designs, methodologies and methods
  • Develop a suitable research proposal


C. Transferable (Key/General) Skills

  • Demonstrate skills in communicating and discussing various concept and methods of research


This module consists of a 2-hour weekly lecture over 10 weeks of term plus a revision lecture in term 3 as preparation for the final examination. Students will be supplied with a syllabus with a breakdown week by week of required and additional reading. Reading materials are usually accessed electronically from the BLE and students should come to class prepared.

This module also has a weekly 1-hour tutorial where the questions posed by the tutor relevant to the lecture are explored and discussed by the students. Students also prepare and deliver a short presentation.

Total Work load:
Students on this module will have 3 taught hours each week. Additionally, adequate personal study time should be allocated for reading and class preparation.

Method of assessment

Assessment for this module is in two elements:

  1. One essay of 4,000 words at 50%
  2. One unseen 2-hour written examination at 50%

All elements may be resubmitted.

Suggested reading



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