Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module GEOG56015: Using Geographical Skills and Techniques

Department: Geography

GEOG56015: Using Geographical Skills and Techniques

Type Open Level 5 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap


  • This proforma describes the content and assessment taken by MA(Research Methods) students


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module will provide advanced training in the use of geographic skills and techniques with the aim of developing a range of transferable skills relevant to professional and personal development. The emphasis will be on; (a) enhancing students’ existing quantitative and qualitative research skills (b) exploring issues involved in the design and conduct of different types of research project and (c) developing new skills in the dissemination of research in different forms, to different audiences and for different purposes.


  • Principles of good research design and practice, including issues of rigour, creativity and validity
  • Understanding how to formulate researchable problems and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research
  • Reflection on the role of the researcher in the context of different approaches to knowledge production
  • The ethics and politics of doing Human Geographical research in the context of contemporary debates about research and its uses
  • Managing information, making sense of data, and styles of analysis, explanation, understanding and description in social research
  • Select advanced qualitative and quantitative research techniques in Human Geography that will (a) enhance existing knowledge of techniques such as interviews or questionnaires so as to ensure the ability to use essential techniques and (b) explore novel techniques at the forefront of current methodological development in human geography and the social sciences
  • Ways of disseminating geographical research, including styles and techniques appropriate to different audiences such as academics, research partners, communities of practice, policy makers and other publics. These may include; research policy reports; exhibitions; workshops; websites, news and social media

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have developed their knowledge of key areas of debate around the production and use of different forms of geographic data, including around the effective co-production of knowledge
  • Students will have been exposed to a breadth of approaches, tools and techniques and acquired critical knowledge of a number of selected quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and techniques
  • Students will have acquired a thorough understanding of different ways of disseminating research finding and the limits and possibilities of different styles and strategies of dissemination and research outputs
  • Students will have developed an understanding of the range of issues involved in the conduct and use of geographical research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The enhancement of practical skills needed for the design and planning of the research process and the management and use of data and information, including issues around ethics, legality and confidentiality
  • Students will have developed practical skills in the use of select quantitative and qualitative methodologies as appropriate to their developing research and professional interests
  • Students will have developed skills of data analysis through direct practical experience appropriate to their research and professional interests
  • Students will have developed dissemination skills and strategies informed by good practice in Human Geography and appropriate to different types of academic and non-academic users and audiences, including skills to engage and exchange knowledge with users and skills that help and enable outreach and public dialogue
  • Students will be fully aware of what good practice is in human geography regarding the conduct of research
Key Skills:
  • Written communication skills
  • Ability to synthesise complex information and manage quantitative and qualitative data
  • Ability to disseminate research in a way that is appropriate to the research project and to the audience

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 2 hour lectures and corresponding 2 hour practicals in term 1 with four workshops and a day conference in term 2
  • Lectures introduce students to a range of key debates, questions and methods relevant to the use of geographical skills and techniques 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, methodological techniques and dissemination styles
  • The four workshops will involve additional specialist training in different forms and modes of dissemination and will occur in term 2
  • The day conference is a forum for discussions around research design and practice and will allow students to reflect on forms of dissemination
  • Summative Assessment: The report involves presenting a plan for the dissemination of your research to a wider public which includes considering the methods for dissemination, the audience(s), the planned impacts of the research and an example of one method of dissemination.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Paired to practicals 1 hour 8
Practical 8 Paired to lectures 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: Research Dissemination Report Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Report 3000 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Verbal feedback on ideas for the summative will be ongoing throughout the course and delivered during workshops and/or on a 1:1 basis. Feedback will be focused on the chosen method (and associated literatures) and how to integrate the student’s research experiences into the assignment.

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