Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials Seminars: 16 x 2 hours
Practical 12 x 1 hours
Other Oral presentation session: 1 x 3 hours


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay of 3000 words  30%
Semester Assessment Research proposal of 2500 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) (recorded using lecture capture (video and sound))   15%
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. 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 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 first section of the module introduces the principles and practice of policy research from both academic and government perspectives and engages with recent debates in Human Geography on policy engagement. The second section introduces students to sources of qualitative and quantitative data and methods for data collection. The third section outlines methods for the analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data. The final section addresses practical issues of research ethics and fieldwork safety.


Section 1: The Principles and Practice of Policy Research
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 research to different audiences
6. Interpreting research and applications for policy development

Section 2: Data and Evidence for Policy Research - Sources and Collection
7. Qualitative data 1: Archives, iconographic and textual sources
Practical workshop 1: Archival research
Practical workshop 2: Iconographic and textual sources
8. Qualitative data 2: Interviews and participant observation
Practical workshop 3: Interviews
Practical workshop 4: Participant observation
9. Quantitative data 1: Primary statistical sources
Practical workshop 5: Qualtrics survey tool
10. Quantitative data 2: Secondary statistical sources
Practical workshop 6: Web-based statistical resources

Section 3: Data Analysis for Policy Research
11. Qualitative analysis 1: Conversational and ethnographic analysis
Practical workshop 7: Ethnographic analysis
12. Qualitative analysis 2: Iconographic and content analysis
Practical workshop 8: Iconographic analysis
13. Qualitative analysis 3: Discourse analysis
Practical workshop 9: Discourse analysis
14. Quantitative analysis: GIS and spatial analysis
Practical workshop 10: GIS
15. Mixing methods
Practical workshop 11: Dissertation planning - methods

Section 4: Ethics and Research
16. Research ethics and fieldwork safety
Practical workshop 12: Dissertation planning - ethics and safety

17. Presentation of research proposals

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 strongly orientated towards developing skills and perspectives appropriate for a career in policy-research or policy development and implementation.
Problem solving Problem solving skills will be developed through the design of a 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 Students will be introduced to the specific application of research methods in Human Geography
Team work Practicals will involve group discussion and exercises.


This module is at CQFW Level 7