Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Training for Policy Research
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 6 x 2hrs
Seminars / Tutorials 3 x 1hr


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay of 2800 words  40%
Semester Assessment Oral presentation of project 'pitch' (20 minutes + questions) (group-assessed)  10%
Semester Assessment Report on project (3500 words) [Submitted as a group but with authorship of each section identified. 50% of mark for assessment awarded as group mark for overall research and report presentation. 50% of mark awarded as individual mark for section authored].  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission or re-presentation of any failed component only if the overall module mark is a fail.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Discuss and evaluate the contribution of research to evidence-based policy-making and critically engage with debates concerning the principles and practice of policy research.
  2. Show an appreciation of the methodological, ethical and political issues concerned in conducting and managing an effective policy research project.
  3. Effectively plan and implement a policy research project, including research design, data collection and data analysis, and time management.
  4. Communicate research findings and recommendations to a policy client through written and oral presentations.

Brief description

This module provides training in research methods to support both work towards a MA Dissertation and career development in policy research or policy development and implementation. The module includes taught seminars that introduce the principles and practice of policy research from both academic and government perspectives and engages with recent debates in Human Geography on policy engagement. Alongside these seminars, students will work in small groups to complete a 'Policy Research Project', which puts topics covered in the seminars into practice. This will be a real piece of research 'commissioned' by a local council or organization and will include the design and implementation of a research plan, writing of an appropriately presented report, identification of recommendations, and an oral presentation to the client.


Taught Seminars
1. Introduction to evidence-based policy-making
2. Critical perspectives on policy research
3. Participatory research and public engagement
4. Planning and managing policy research
5. Communicating policy research
6. Interpreting research and applications for policy development

Tutorials and Presentations
1. Introduction to Policy Report Project
2. Project 'pitch' presentation
3. Project advisory tutorial
4. Project advisory tutorial
5. Presentation to client

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number The policy research project may involve quantitative data collection and analysis
Communication Written communication skills developed through written essay and project report, including appropriate styles of presentation for different audiences. Oral communication skills developed through oral presentations of project pitch (assessed) and research findings and recommendations (not 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 expected to access and analyse data using information technology including the web and specialist software
Personal Development and Career planning The module is designed to prepare students for prospective careers in policy research or in policy-related employment using research. The policy research project is designed to provide students with practical experience of undertaking real commissioned research, enhancing employability.
Problem solving Problem solving skills will be developed through the design and implementation of a policy research project
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
Team work The policy research project will be undertaken as a group project, in which students will need to allocate and manage roles and work coherently together.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Cartwright, N. and Hardie, J. (2012) Evidence-Based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing It Better Oxford University Press Primo search Kindon, S., Pain, R. and Kesby, M. (eds) (2007) Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods Abingdon: Routledge 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 Burnett, J. and Duncan, S. (2008) Critical Social Policy Reflections and observations: an interview with the UK's first Chief Government Social Researcher 28(3), 283-298 Primo search Juntti, M., Russel, D., and Turnpenny, J. (2009) Environmental Science and Policy Evidence, politics and power in public policy for the environment 12(3), 207-215 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


This module is at CQFW Level 7