Course at a glance


This Quality Assured, Level 3: Diploma in Postgraduate Research Techniques; will assist any researcher who is embarking on an empirical research project. Although, it has been written to assist Postgraduates, it is also suitable for those undertaking research projects; guided study; independent projects at level three and above.

The course will teach the student the many and varied skills that underpin good research, from the preparation of the research plan; primary and secondary sources; qualitative or quantitative methodology; how to interpret literature and bring your findings into a meaningful analysis and draw appropriate conclusions. In doing so, the course draws on the theoretical models currently used in academic research and beyond.

Learning Aims

The Learning programme for the student, offers choice and scope in regards to the greater understanding of good research techniques. The core aims of the diploma are to:

  • Specifically offers the student a theoretical academic approach to the understanding research skills through a robust programme of learning that will enhance academic rigour towards producing professional project papers; dissertations and thesis’.
  • The Diploma Postgraduate Research Techniques, encourages students to: develop their competence, and enthusiasm for, a rigorous study of good research techniques that can easily transferred into academic and professional papers/presentations.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will have an opportunity to study aspects of research theory and practices that will improve current skills and empirical data gathering.
  • To undertake a broader study of the subject of research, through the selection of a variety of topics: reviewing literature; understanding methodologies; qualitative vs quantitative; application and analysis of findings and much more.
  • Some prior knowledge of undertaking research is recommended, or experience in an organisation that undertakes research projects. However, the opportunity is provided for candidates who have studied a social science or humanities subject at Foundation or Degree; GCE; IGCSE (either as a Full or Short Course) to build on knowledge, understanding and skills gained at that level. Or simply starting from a point of wanting to enhance professional skills.
  • The course encourages students to develop the critical, analytical and evaluative skills which will enable them to either go on to/remain in, Higher Education to further their education through undertaking formal research at postgraduate levels.

This course consists of Ten Units and is a qualification awarded by Oxford Learning College, in its own right; with the quality assurance of a leading awarding body (CIE Global) that hallmarks this professional qualification.

Assessment Objectives (AO)

AO: 1

Students must select and demonstrate clearly relevant knowledge and understanding through the use of evidence, examples and correct language and terminology appropriate to the course of study. In addition, for synoptic assessment, students should demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the connections between different elements of their course of study. This assessment, involves two written assignments: one halfway through the course and following the final unit. Both are assessed and graded by the assigned tutor, according to college procedures.

AO: 2

Students must critically evaluate and justify a point of view through the use of evidence and reasoned argument. In addition, for synoptic assessment, students should relate elements of their course of study to their broader context and to aspects of spiritual human experience.

Quality of Written Communication (QWC)

In addition, OLC require students to produce written material in English, candidates must: ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPG) are accurate so that meaning is clear; select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose and to complex subject matter; organise information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate. In this Specification, SPG will be assessed in all tutor marked assignments (TMAs)

To ensure that we maintain quality standards; all our students written assignments are subject to our plagiarism policy and procedure.

Key Features

OLC offer the opportunity to learn research skills as a professional level 3 validated diploma course. The student will learn and/or review the many techniques of good research; be able to apply and use that gained knowledge in either: education or a research project.

This course has several features:

  • To develop a comprehensive understanding of good research skills.
  • To treat the subject as a professional discipline, providing the academic knowledge, understanding and skills appropriate for specialist research study.
  • To teach students an enquiring, reflective and critical approach to the study of presenting good research papers at an academic or associate arena.
  • To encourage students to reflect on their own professional development and practice.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Entry Requirement

Entry to this Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma requires that potential students have gained GCSE/IGCSE or equivalent qualifications and have, good English oral, reading and writing skills.

Advice on enrolment and guidance of prior learning (APL) can be obtained through out contact centre. The course is a rolling programme and can be started at any point in the year. Successful students can go on to Higher Education, including remaining as students at OLC to complete courses in our portfolio of higher awards.

All students must be aged 16 or over.


The coursework is assessed through continuous assessment with no formal exit examinations.


The course has TWO Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA); which are graded: Pass or Fail. 1 at the end of units 5 & 10

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Study Hours (Per Unit)

Approximately: 200 hours of personal study time for the entire course is recommended. All of which is supported by the OLC Course Tutor, who we greatly encourage students to access support from throughout their course.

Quality Assurance

This course has been developed by the College’s professional team of tutors to meet the needs of sector based employers and employees. It is also part of the College’s validated level three Diplomas’, recognised internationally, as verified and moderated Centre for Interactive Education (CIE Global). Further details of our accreditations are provided on our website.


Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Course Content

The whole level three diploma has TEN (10) specific units of study, which are sub-divided into topic areas these are:

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 1: Introduction to Postgraduate Research

In this unit, students will consider the concepts of what research at a postgraduate level involves: research applications; proposals; funding research; good research techniques; qualitative or quantitative; methods and presentation.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 2: Conducting Quantitative Research

The unit focuses on one of the core aspects of research. Conducting strong analysis requires ‘raw data’ which is authentic; reliable and valid. Most research projects in the social sciences are quantitative; which involves gathering statistical data; which is generated by either case analysis or through a form of experimentation. Students will learn the various aspects of this method and its potential application.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 3: Conducting Qualitative Research

In this unit students’ will consider the use of qualitative research. Qualitative research is used widely in social research and humanities project. This usually involves case studies; interviewing; and other face to face data gathering techniques.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 4: Conducting Empirical Research

This unit focuses the student on different aspects of research methodology; this method is usually a mix of observation or experimentation. This is largely dependent on what the research project is trying to prove – its hypothesis.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 5: Conducting Case Study Research

Case studies are studies of people, communities/settings etc. The whole concept as part of a quantitative method is to ‘prove’ their hypothesis. Students will learn how to develop techniques in using case studies as part of, a research project.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 6: Basic and Applied Research

Students will over the course of their learning learn how to ask questions. This is a key part of any research – basic research follows the course of documents (media; case studies; reports etc) to find answers, raise questions and even form opinions which then have to be proven. Applied research is systematic, using science/social science at a practical level. Both these methods correlate to bring useful hypothesis to be analysed.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 7: Evaluative Research

In this unit, the student will learn how to ensure that the research being undertaken has impact or meaning. In doing so, it should be evaluative, informative and ground breaking. The study being useful to others in future research.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 8: Glossary of Research Methods and Techniques

Whatever the size or shape of a research project it will form part of a wider compendium of research. This compendium of knowledge has been completed through using different research techniques and methods. Therefore, the student will learn how to ensure that the research used is referenced carefully and that the research tracks are easy to follow.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 9: Conducting Research on the Internet

This unit explores how to make good use of electronic information from the Internet. The student will learn that it is important to ‘trust’ only electronic internet sources that can be attributed to a good source; proves fact and can be cited/referenced.

Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma Unit 10: Research in Commerce and Industry

In this final unit we explore this ever growing field of systemic research. Whatever the business setting, research will be a key element in its success. We explore case studies where such research has informed product development, policy and behaviour.


This Accredited Level 3 Postgraduate Research Techniques Diploma can be used to gain entry to a Level 4 Diploma or higher.