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Research Methods for Human Geography

Module titleResearch Methods for Human Geography
Module codeGEO2325
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Professor Patrick Devine-Wright (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module provides you with an advanced training in research methods used by human geographers. Accordingly, it is designed to prepare you for undertaking research within and beyond the university context and seeks to equip you with key employability attributes for professional careers. In so doing, the module will introduce you to a range of quantitative, qualitative and spatial methods that human geographers use in research and their applications for wider society. The module will be taught using lecture-based classes, workshops and tutorials and is one of the core modules you study as part of a BA Geography degree, as well as being core for FCH students wishing to undertake a human geography field trip and / or dissertation. Research methods are presented in light of how they are utilised in practice, drawing on examples from human geography research projects.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide an advanced and critically engaged understanding of how human geographers adopt and use diverse research methods in a range of contexts. The module has the following objectives:

  • To provide you with an understanding of the ontological and epistemological basis of human geography research methods;
  • To enable you to think critically about the role and function of different types of research methods within particular epistemological frameworks;
  • To assist you in engaging with the practical application of specific research methods, including quantitative, qualitative and spatial approaches;
  • To support you in translating your learning about research methods into identifiable and tangible graduate attributes to enhance your employability.

This module will help you to develop and extend your awareness of the importance of diverse human geography research methods in strengthening employability potential, and considering how these methods could be applied to a range of research scenarios. Workshops and tutorials will provide an opportunity for you to develop skills in critically assessing and applying these diverse methods.

The teaching contributions on this module involve staff discussing research methods utilised in their own research practice, such as surveys (Barr), visual analysis (Wylie), ethnography (Cook) and interviews (Bickerstaff).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss the diversity of approaches employed in the generation of knowledge and understanding in human geography
  • 2. Explain the relevance and significance of different forms of geographic knowledge

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Evaluate the issues involved in research design and its application in the context of human geography
  • 4. Describe a number of specialised techniques and approaches involved in collecting, analysing and presenting geographical information - qualitative, quantitative and spatial
  • 5. Identify/formulate and evaluate questions or problems
  • 6. Identify and evaluate approaches to problem-solving
  • 7. Synthesise information and recognise relevance
  • 8. Apply ideas to new situations

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Use C&IT effectively and appropriately to analyse and present geographical information
  • 10. Effectively, appropriately and critically interpret qualitative, quantitative and spatial information
  • 11. Understand the rationale for mixed-methods research and how this relates different forms of geographic knowledge
  • 12. Understand the role of research methods in developing a coherent graduate attribute profile to enhance employability

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to the module; Advanced quantitative methods 1: applications.
  • Advanced quantitative methods 2: multiple regression.
  • Advanced quantitative methods 3: factor analysis.
  • Advanced quantitative methods 4: cluster analysis; Revision Stats lecture.
  • Advanced quantitative methods: GIS/Spatial analysis.
  • Advanced qualitative methods 1: working with people part A – questionnaires.
  • Advanced qualitative methods 2: working with people part B – interviews and focus groups.
  • Advanced qualitative methods 3: working in places (ethnography and observational methods).
  • Advanced qualitative methods 4: working with texts and visual materials
  • Advanced qualitative methods 5: mixed methods.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching21Lecture-based classroom sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching (weeks 3, 5, 7, 9, 11)6Workshops
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 3Group tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2SPSS workshops – practical statistics help sessions
Guided Independent Study118Background reading, examination revision and coursework preparation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentations10 minutes1-9, 11Oral
Self-paced statistics practical exercisesSelf-paced3-10Self-assessed using answer sheets

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination401 hour4, 7, 10Written
Essay602000 wordsAllWritten


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination4, 7, 10August Ref/Def period
EssayEssayAllAugust Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination or submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Clifford, N. and Valentine, G., (2003) Key Methods in Geography. Sage.
  • Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (1994) Handbook of Qualitative Research.
  • Flick, U. (1998) Introduction to Qualitative Research. Sage
  • Frew, J. (1986) Geography fieldwork. Macmillan
  • Holliday, A. (2002) Doing and Writing Qualitative Research. Sage
  • Limb. M, and Dwyer. C., (2001) Qualitative Methodologies for Geographers: Issues and Debates
  • Shurmer-Smith, P. (2002) Doing Cultural Geography. Sage.
  • Silverman, D. (1993) Qualitative Data – Methods for Analyzing Talk, Text and Interaction. Sage
  • Berry, B.J.L. and Marble, D.F. (eds.) (1968) Spatial Analysis: a Reader in Statistical Geography. Prentice-Hall.
  • Clifford, N. and Valentine, G., (2003) Key Methods in Geography. Sage.Cole, J.P. and King, C.A.M. (1968)
  • Diamond, I. And Jeffries, J. (2001) Beginning Statistics: An Introduction for Social Scientists.
  • Ebdon, D. (1985) Statistics in Geography, Blackwell; Oxford).
  • Frew, J. (1986) Geography fieldwork. Macmillan.
  • Gregory, S. (1973) Statistical Methods and the Geographer. Longman.
  • Griffith, D. and Amrhein, C. (1991) Statistical Analysis for Geographers. Prentice-Hall.
  • Hammond, R. and McCullagh, P. (1978) Quantitative techniques in Geography: an introduction. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
  • King, L.J. (1969) Statistical Analysis in Geography. Prentice-Hall.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Geography, human geography, research methods, quantitative, qualitative

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

GEO2326 Research Design in Human Geography

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date