Social Science (SOSC) 366

Research Methods in the Social Sciences (Revision 6)

SOSC 366 course cover

Revision 6 is closed for registrations, see current revision

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: A junior social science course is recommended but not required.

Precluded Course: PSYC 304. SOSC 366 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for PSYC 304.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

TELUQ equivalency: SOC 1013.

Télé-université du Québec equivalency

SOSC 366 is not available for challenge.

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Welcome to Social Science 366: Research Methods in the Social Sciences. This course is designed for students who wish to gain an understanding of the limits and potentials of social science research, and for those who intend to research social phenomena scientifically.

Social Science 366 is intended to facilitate your awareness of the research process and your ability to conduct research in an ethical and thorough manner using appropriate research strategies. This course has technical and critical components. This means understanding the course requires a good grasp of many technical concepts and processes and applying these concepts to the study of social phenomena.

Course Objectives

Social Science 366: Research Methods in the Social Sciences has been designed to help you achieve the following course objectives:

  1. Understand the ethical responsibilities of a social researcher toward research participants.
  2. Explain the principles and objectives of social science research.
  3. Describe the use of common research methods in the social sciences.
  4. Define a research problem.
  5. Write a research proposal.
  6. Conduct an independent research project involving the collection of empirical data.
  7. Analyze and report findings from a research project.
  8. Better understand research reported in the media and critically analyze research studies.


Social Science 366: Research Methods in the Social Sciences comprises 16 units:

  • Unit 1: Doing Social Research: An Introduction to Inquiry
  • Unit 2: Theory and Research
  • Unit 3: The Ethics and Politics of Social Research
  • Unit 4: The Logic of Causation
  • Unit 5: Obstacles to Scientific Inquiry
  • Unit 6: Research Design
  • Unit 7: Conceptualization, Operationalization, and Measurement
  • Unit 8: Indexes, Scales, and Typologies
  • Unit 9: The Logic of Sampling
  • Unit 10: Survey Research
  • Unit 11: Experiments
  • Unit 12: Unobtrusive Research
  • Unit 13: Qualitative Field Research
  • Unit 14: Evaluation Research
  • Unit 15: Mixed Methods
  • Unit 16: Quantitative and Qualitative Data Analysis


Students must achieve an overall passing grade of 60% in the course. In addition, students must obtain a passing grade of 60% on all written assignments. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Quiz 1 3%
Mid-term 15%
Literature Review 10%
Quiz 2 3%
Essay 20%
Research Proposal 20%
Quiz 3 4%
Research Project 25%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

Most of the course materials for SOSC 366 are available online through the myAU portal. There are also four textbooks and a printed Reading File, and these will be sent to you before your course start date.


Babbie, E., & Benaquisto, L. (2010). Fundamentals of social research (2nd Canadian ed.) Toronto, ON: Nelson Education. (eText)

Neuman, W. L., & Robson, K. (2015). Basics of social research: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (3rd Canadian ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson. (eText)

Simon, J. L. (2009). The art of empirical investigation. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. (PDF)

Tensen, B. L. & Hampson, K. (2010). Mastering digital research: A guide for students. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.

Other Materials

Kastner, J. (Producer & Director). (1998). Ask a silly question [Streaming Video]. Toronto: CBC Enterprises.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 6, September 9, 2016.

View previous syllabus