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Engaging with postgraduate research: education, childhood & youth
Engaging with postgraduate research: education, childhood & youth

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2 The role and nature of theories

In this section you will explore the theoretical tool kit that is an essential part of engaging in postgraduate research in education and childhood and youth studies. You will consider theories and the work they do, drawing on two that are widely used in education and childhood research. You will also be introduced to key terminology that you are likely to come across as part of Masters level study.

Work tools, such as a ruler and screwdriver, hung up on a wall.
Figure 1 Theoretical tools can help you on your research journey

For the purpose of this short course, you will explore four key terms:

  • research paradigm
  • ontology
  • epistemology
  • methodology.

You will look at each of these in turn next. You may find it helpful to start a glossary of research terms and note your emerging understanding of key ideas.