KE7026 - Advanced Research Methods

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What will I learn on this module?

This module provides you with advanced training in research design, data collection and data analysis. You will learn about the theoretical foundations of methodological aspects of social science research as well as the benefits and limits of a range of advanced research methods. This will put you in a position to better plan a research strategy and operationalise your Research Project. However, it will also help you in future graduate employment positions, by being able to critically scrutinise the basis, methods and findings of others’ research and arguments (both academic and non-academic).The module will examine the key aspects of the research design process, tailored to your own areas of research interest, and will review a range of both qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as the intersections between them. In addition to the core methods used in social sciences, you will also be introduced to more innovative and contemporary approaches to data collection and analysis in human geography as demonstrated through the work of these involved in the teaching of this module. Key areas covered include:
- Designing Your Research
- Ethics and Risk
- Fieldwork Research Issues
- Quantitative, qualitative and mixed method techniques
- Data analysis
- Communication of findings

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops, directed learning tasks and independent learning, which will be supported by peer-learning. Lectures introduce and develop key concepts providing a framework for your learning about what types of research methods are commonly used, why, in which ways and for what purposes. Seminars are designed to allow you to explore these issues in greater depth.. They involve interactive discussion with both tutors and peers. Workshops are designed to explore the operational use of some of the key research methods as well as data analysis techniques, some of which will be IT-based. Directed learning tasks will be set each week to allow you to explore the appropriate selection and applicability of methods, with key readings provided which will be both conceptual but also applied. Independent learning is facilitated by you exploring in more depth specific (combinations of) research methods for the kinds of research questions that are most relevant to your field of advanced investigation. We will encourage the development of peer reading groups. You are encouraged and should make use of the relevant Research Seminars to hear from active researchers in order to develop your own application of research methods. Overall we will provide you with some tailored material, to expand on core textbooks and key readings captured on the interactive reading list, via the University’s eLP, direct you to on-line resources and for independent learning you will become a regular user of NORA, the University’ academic search engine.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will receive support more generally from the module tutor, but more specifically from session tutors and your allocated guidance tutor from the ‘Subject Exploration’ module. Within the more interactive teaching sessions such as seminars or workshops students can obtain formative support/feedback, both from tutors and peers. Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.
Resources will be made available through the ELP including reading lists and other additional information and sources relevant to the exploration of advanced research methods. You will also be supported through your peers and will be encouraged to develop an active and participatory research culture amongst fellow students to facilitate peer learning and informal structures of support.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Critically evaluate research methodologies in terms of their philosophical foundations
• MLO 2: Critically review and assess the selection and application of research methods in a chosen focus field

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 3: Perform appropriate analysis of geographical data to an advanced level
• MLO 4: Effectively communicate the outcomes and findings of geographical data analysis

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Identify and communicate ethical issues related to the design, collection and analysis of data

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment:

2,500 word Essay on selected research method(s)
Weighted 50 % of module mark
This assessment, submitted at the mid-point of the first semester will ask you to select a specific research method (or cluster of methods) and critically explore these in depth, with a particularly focus on theory and application of the chosen method(s). This will require you to examine the philosophical underpinnings of such approaches to gathering geographical data, but also to explore the uses, strengths, weaknesses, critiques and development of these methods over time. This will allow you to demonstrate that you have developed a critical understanding of both the foundations and processes involved in research activity.
MLOs 1, 2 and 5

2,500 word Data Analysis
Weighted 50 % of module mark
Building on your first assignment, you will be provided with data relevant to your chosen methodological focus. You will then be asked to conduct a rigorous and appropriate analysis of this data, utilising techniques and approaches outlined in teaching sessions. This may be quantitative, qualitative or a combination of the two. This assessment will look to assess both your application of data analysis techniques, but also the ability to effectively communicate the findings and limitations of this analysis.
MLOs 3, 4 and 5

Formative assessment/support processes

We would encourage you to share work in progress on the discussion board / group of the eLP to receive peer support on it.
You will be able to access electronically past (anonymised) student assignments for this with a indicated mark category.

There will be interactive discussion with staff in seminars and workshops also where you can float ideas or obtain formative feedback on thinking processes and assignment tackling strategies you and your peers are developing.





Module abstract

Whilst you will have already demonstrated an understanding and application of human geography research methods through the first three years of your degree, this module provides you with the opportunity to develop these to a more advanced and applied level. You learn about the theories underpinning different methodological decisions, and begin to engage with the critiques as well as the opportunities provided by a range of techniques and approaches. This module will then fully equip you to design and operationalise a research strategy for your own Research Project. The skills learnt in this module will also help you to critically approach and scrutinise other research, a skill which will be invaluable in terms of post-graduate employment. Through lectures, seminars, workshops, directed and independent learning you will better understand the nature of research methodologies, the research process, and how to carrying out rigorous data analysis.

Course info

UCAS Code L7T6

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

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