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Study information

Research Methods and Design in Human Geography

Module titleResearch Methods and Design in Human Geography
Module codeGEOM105A
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Jennifer Lea (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module is taught in the second term to enable you to build on and apply concepts you learned in the generic social science research methods modules of Term 1 to human geography research practice and to train you specifically in the development of research ideas, the formulation of a research plan and the design of an appropriate method.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims:

  • To train you in the application of a variety of appropriate social science methodologies and approaches for the undertaking of human geography research.
  • To facilitate your understanding of the inter-relationships between human geography theory and knowledge and research design.
  • To provide you with an active and supportive research environment which will allow you to develop your potential to formulate ideas and design research to make a contribution to your discipline.

The practical knowledge and skills acquired by taking his module are relevant to many areas of employment and future study. The training in research methods and approaches will equip you for a variety of academic, public and other research-related professions. You will learn skills of research design, how geographers have used various qualitative methods, and will demonstrate critical thinking about such methods which are key to careers in social scientific research, public sector research and other research-related professions.

The module is taught by a range of staff who will explore these issues in relation to their own research practice, covering significant and timely issues such as research impact and the research/policy interface. You will be brought into dialogue with ongoing externally-funded research projects being undertaken in the department. You will be encouraged to think about how a wide range of different research methods and issues might relate to, and reshape, your own dissertation research ideas.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe in detail the principles of research design in human geography
  • 2. Discuss the implications of methodological issues and debates to research design in human geography
  • 3. Identify and formulate competently research questions in research in human geography
  • 4. Use research tools and methods in human geography
  • 5. Apply general skills of research design to particular issues in human geographical research

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Assimilate and understand appropriate theoretical material
  • 7. Critically evaluate issues and questions
  • 8. Present and synthesise arguments orally and in written form

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Adhere to deadlines
  • 10. Relate material appropriately to an intended audience
  • 11. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction
  • Problematising the world
  • Theory in social science research
  • Research methods
  • Writing a dissertation
  • Positionality and the ethics of research
  • Impact:
    • Making a difference in and outside the academy
    • Experiences of undertaking sensitive research
    • Publications and writing
    • Researching life
    • Managing research
    • Presentations

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Seminar presentation
Guided Independent Study128Reading and coursework preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar presentation20 minutesAllOral
Research plan1 sheet of A4AllWritten

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research ethics essay502000 wordsAllWritten
Research proposal502500 wordsAllWritten

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research ethics essayResearch ethics essayAllAugust ref/def period
Research proposalResearch proposalAllAugust ref/def period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to resubmit the original assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bouma, G. (1993) The Research Process OUP.
  • Butlin, R. (1993) Historical Geography: Through the Gates of Time and Space London: Arnold.
  • Crang, M. and I. Cook 2007 Doing Ethnographies London, Sage.
  • Flick, U. 2006 An Introduction to Qualitative Research, London,  Sage  Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. (eds) (1997).
  • Research Methods in Human Geography   Harlow:  Longman.
  • Gerring, J. 2001.  Social Science Methodology: A Criterial Framework. New York, Cambridge  University Press.
  • Hedrick, T., Bickman, L. and Ray, D. (1993) Applied Research Design London: Sage.
  • Iser, W 2006 How to Do Theory, Blackwell.
  • Kitchen, R. and Tate, N. (2000) Conducting Research in Human Geography: Theory Methodology and Practice Longman.
  • Latour, B. 2005  Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford University Press.
  • Livingstone, D. 2004 Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge, Chicago University Press.
  • Neumann, W.L. 2006  Social Research Methods: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, Boston, Pearson.
  • Pryke, M., Rose, G. and Whatmore, S. 2003 Using Social Theory, Sage.
  • Silverman, D. (1997) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice. London: Sage
  • Silverman, D. (1997) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice. London: Sage

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Data collection, presentation, communication, methods, ethics, research design, human geography

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date