Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Research Methods in Human Geography
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2hrs
Practical 12 x 1hr
Other Gregynog Theory School: 2- day residential school, comprised of 8 hours total seminars.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay of 2,000 words on Gregynog Theory School  30%
Semester Assessment Research proposal of 2,500 words  25%
Semester Assessment Portfolio of 10 practical exercises based on practical workshops 1-10.  30%
Semester Assessment Oral presentation of research proposal (15 mins) (to be recorded using lecture capture (video + sound))   15%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission or re-presentation of any failed component only if the overall module mark is a fail. Students unable to present their research proposal in the scheduled session will make a presentation to a panel of staff at a re-arranged time.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  1. Discuss the role of methodology as it mediates the abstract theories of ontology and epistemology on the one hand and the narrower, more practical concerns of methods and techniques on the other.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between, and rationale for using, quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis.
  3. Appropriately identify and utilize a range of sources of qualitative and quantitative data.
  4. Appropriately select and apply a range of methods for the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data.
  5. Show an appreciation of the ways in which methodological concerns in human geography can be related to ethical issues and public policy debates.
  6. Effectively plan a research project, including research design, data collection and data analysis, and time management.
  7. Communicate a research proposal through written and oral presentations.

Brief description

This module develops competencies in the understanding and application of appropriate research epistemologies and methodologies within the field of human geography, with an emphasis upon their implementation. Throughout the module methodological issues are explicitly linked to forms of data collection, research design, and the changing practice of human geography. Students will acquire an understanding, through reading and critically engaging with both quantitative and qualitative sources of data, and of the different methodological strategies required for addressing particular research problems in human geography. They will also attend a short residential course "The Gregynog Theory School" which enables social science researchers working in the field of human geography in Wales to demonstrate, negotiate, and disseminate best-practice techniques of research. In doing this, the module will specifically focus on the connections between theoretically-driven research questions, research design, data collection, and data analysis.


Section A: Evidence for research, sources and collection

1) Statistical sources with workshop on Qualtrics survey tool
2) Textual sources with workshop on discourse analysis
3) Interviews and participant observation with practical workshop

Section B: Data Analysis for Research, engagement and interrogation
4) Quantitative analysis: GIS and spatial analysis
5) Conversational and ethnographic analysis with practical workshop
6) Visual Methodology and lens-based research with workshop on iconographic analysis
7) Mixing methods
8) Dissertation planning

Section C: Ethics and Research
9) Research ethics and fieldwork safety with workshop on ethics and safety
10) Dissemination and Impact : Presentation of research proposals

Section D: Gregynog Theory School
Residential school delivered jointly with Cardiff and Swansea universities as part of the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. The school involves detailed study and discussion of selected readings, led by staff from the three participating universities.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be introduced to quantitative data sources and methods for quantitative data analysis, and will discuss issues concerned with the use and interpretation of statistical analysis.
Communication Written communication skills developed through written assignments and oral communication skills through oral presentation. Approaches for communicating research to a range of audiences introduced and discussed, but not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be expected to undertake a significant amount of self-directed study and will reflect on their own capabilities, strengths and performance in designing a research project.
Information Technology Students will be introduced to digital and IT data sources and to software packages for qualitative and quantitative data handling, analysis and presentation.
Personal Development and Career planning The module is orientated towards developing skills and perspectives appropriate for a wide variety of careers.
Problem solving Problem solving skills will be developed through the design of a dissertation proposal
Research skills A wide range of research skills will be developed through the module, including skills of data collection and analysis, and research planning and management.
Subject Specific Skills Students will be introduced to the specific application of research methods in Human Geography
Team work Practicals will involve group discussion and exercises.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Clifford, N. and Valentine, G. (eds) (2003) Key Methods in Geography London: Sage Primo search Cloke, P., Crang, P. and Goodwin, M. (2002) Practising Human Geography London: Arnold Primo search Eyles, J. and Smith, D. (1988) Qualitative Methods in Human Geography Cambridge: Polity Primo search Kindon, S., Pain, R. and Kesby, M. (eds) (2007) Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods Abingdon: Routledge Primo search Mason, J. (1996) Qualitative Research London: Sage Primo search Walliman, N. (2001) Your Research Project London: Sage Primo search Beaumont, J., Loopmans, M. and Uitermark, J. (2005) Area Politicization of research and the relevance of geography: some experiences and reflections for an ongoing debate 37, 118-126 Primo search Bell, D. (2007) Environment and Planning A Fade to grey: some reflections on policy and mundanity 39, 541-554 Primo search Burgess, J. (2005) Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers Follow the argument where it leads: some personal reflections on 'policy-relevant' research 30, 273-281 Primo search Martin, R. (2001) Progress in Human Geography Geography and public policy: the case of the missing agenda 25, 189-210 Primo search McAreavey, R. (2008) Sociologia Ruralis Researcher and employee: reflections on reflexive practice in rural development research 48, 389-407 Primo search Pain, R. (2006) Progress in Human Geography Social geography: seven deadly myths in policy research 30, 250-259 Primo search Ward, K. (2005) Progress in Human Geography Geography and public policy: a recent history of 'policy relevance' 29, 310-319 Primo search Ward, K. (2007) Progress in Human Geography Geography and public policy: activist, participatory and policy geographies 31, 695-705 Primo search Woods, M. and Gardner, G. (2011) Dialogues in Human Geography Applied policy research and critical human geography: some reflections on swimming in murky waters 1, 198-214 Primo search Civil Service Policy Hub (2006) How research and evaluation evidence contributes to policy making Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7