Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module GEOG56015: Research Design and Practice

Department: Geography

GEOG56015: Research Design and Practice

Type Open Level 5 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module aims to enable students to develop an understanding of the research process from design through to implementation and communication of research practices. The module will allow students to apply the principles of good research design to selected methods covering a mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches. The module also aims to ensure that students gain confidence in presenting aspects of a research topic in a professional and academic manner.


  • Principles of good research design and practice
  • Writing styles and strategies
  • Managing bibliographic materials
  • Presentation styles and techniques
  • Documentation and archive research
  • Discourse analysis
  • Surveys: design and analysis
  • Visual methods and analysis

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should have an awareness of some of the key debates surrounding methodologies in human geography research.
  • Students should understand the practical implications of current debates in their subject field and how this affects their own approach to research.
  • Students should obtain critical knowledge of a number of selected research methodologies and techniques which are pertinent to the practice of human geography
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The development of practical skills needed for the design, planning and management of the research process
  • The development of writing styles and strategies informed by good practice in human geography and appropriate to Masters level study.
  • The acquisition of enhanced bibliographic skills
  • The communication of research ideas in a conference workshop
Key Skills:
  • Written communication skills
  • Oral presentation skills
  • The ability to reflect critically on the research process

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is delivered through eight pairs of lectures and corresponding practicals with two workshops and a half day conference.
  • Lectures introduce students to a range of key debates, questions and methods relevant to research design and practice in human geography. The companion practicals are designed to help students reflect further on the lecture and put into practice a range of practical skills and methodological techniques.
  • The two workshops allow students to further develop their research skills through the development of a specific research proposal (driven by their own emerging research interests). The first workshop focuses on development of an individual research proposal. The second workshop explores specific research methods and includes formative presentations.
  • The final half day conference occurs in Term 2 and is a forum for both the summative oral presentations and further discussions around research design and practice.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Fortnightly, in Term 1 1 hour 8
Practical 8 Fortnightly, in Term 1 1 hour 8
Workshop 2 Twice in Term 1 3 hours 6
Conference 1 Term 2 4 hours 4
Self-directed learning 124
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Report 2000 words 100%
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 20 minutes (15 minutes presentation plus 5 minutes for questions) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Annotated bibliography (1000 words) on a specific research topic. Formative oral presentation in second workshop.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University