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  Unit 4: Research Project
  Unit code: K/601/0941
  QCF level: 5  
  Credit value: 20  

  • Aim

To develop learners’ skills of independent enquiry and critical analysis by undertaking a sustained research investigation of direct relevance to their Higher Education programme and professional development.

  • Unit abstract

This unit is designed to allow learners to become confident in the use of research techniques and methods. It addresses the elements that make up formal research, including the proposal, a variety of methodologies, action planning, carrying out the research itself and presenting the findings. To complete the unit satisfactorily, learners must understand the theory that underpins formal research.

The research itself is dependent on learners, the context of their area of learning, their focus of interest and the anticipated outcomes. The unit draws together a range of other areas of content within the programme of study to form a holistic piece of work that makes a positive contribution to learners’ area of interest. Learners should seek approval from their tutors before starting the study.

  • Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit a learner will:

  • Understand how to formulate a research specification

2     Be able to implement the research project within agreed procedures and to specification

3     Be able to evaluate the research outcomes

  • Be able to present the research outcomes.


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Unit content

  • Understand how to formulate a research specification

Research formulation: aims and objectives; rationale for selection; methodology for data collection and analysis; literature review; critique of references from primary sources eg questionnaires, interviews; secondary sources eg books, journals, internet; scope and limitations; implications eg resources

Hypothesis: definition; suitability; skills and knowledge to be gained; aims and objectives; terms of reference; duration; ethical issues

Action plan: rationale for research question or hypothesis; milestones; task dates; review dates; monitoring/reviewing process; strategy

Research design: type of research eg qualitative, quantitative, systematic, original; methodology; resources; statistical analyses; validity; reliability; control of variables

  • Be able to implement the research project within agreed procedures and to specification

Implement: according to research design and method; test research hypotheses; considering test validity; reliability

Data collection: selection of appropriate tools for data collection; types eg qualitative, quantitative; systematic recording; methodological problems eg bias, variables and control of variables, validity and reliability

Data analysis and interpretation: qualitative and quantitative data analysis – interpreting transcripts; coding techniques; specialist software; statistical tables; comparison of variable; trends; forecasting

  • Be able to evaluate the research outcomes

Evaluation of outcomes: overview of the success or failure of the research project (planning, aims and objectives, evidence and findings, validity, reliability, benefits, difficulties, conclusion(s))

Future consideration: significance of research investigation; application of research results; implications; limitations of the investigation; improvements; recommendations for the future, areas for future research

  • Be able to present the research outcomes

Format: professional delivery format appropriate to the audience; appropriate media


Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

  Learning outcomes Assessment criteria for pass  
  On successful completion of The learner can:  
  this unit a learner will:      
  LO1 Understand how to   1.1 formulate and record possible research project outline  
  formulate a research     specifications  
  specification   1.2 identify the factors that contribute to the process of  
        research project selection  
      1.3 undertake a critical review of key references  
      1.4 produce a research project specification  
      1.5 provide an appropriate plan and procedures for the  
        agreed research specification  
  LO2 Be able to implement the   2.1 match resources efficiently to the research question or  
  research project within     hypothesis  
  agreed procedures and to   2.2 undertake the proposed research investigation in  
      accordance with the agreed specification and  
      2.3 record and collate relevant data where appropriate  
  LO3 Be able to evaluate the   3.1 use appropriate research evaluation techniques  
  research outcomes   3.2 interpret and analyse the results in terms of the original  
        research specification  
      3.3 make recommendations and justify areas for further  
  LO4 Be able to present the 4.1 use an agreed format and appropriate media to present  
  research outcomes   the outcomes of the research to an audience  




This unit links to several units in the programme, depending on the research topic and the context of learners’ area of learning. In particular it can be linked to Unit 10: Work-based Experience and gives learners the opportunity to undertake research in the same organisation in which they undertook their placement.

Essential requirements

Tutors will need to establish the availability of resources to support the independent study before allowing learners to proceed with the proposal.

Employer engagement and vocational contexts

Centres should try to establish links with appropriate businesses to bring realism and relevance to the research project.

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