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Research Design in Human Geography

Module titleResearch Design in Human Geography
Module codeGEO2326
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Matt Finn (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 understanding of and preparation for undertaking a research project. 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 explore the ways in which human geographers design and undertake research projects, examining the key attributes of high quality and rigorous research. Specifically, this module prepares you for your forthcoming dissertation research. The module will be taught using both lecture-based classes and tutorials and is one of the core modules students 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.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide an advanced and critically engaged understanding of how human geographers design and implement research projects. The module has the following objectives:

  • To lead you through a process by which you explore and articulate your ideas for dissertation research
  • To provide you with an understanding of the ontological and epistemological basis of research design;
  • To consider the research process and the ethical implications of different research practices;
  • To outline key research design approaches and issues, drawing on different traditions in the social sciences;
  • To explore the practical components of undertaking research projects;
  • To evaluate different forms of research design and their likely impacts and outcomes.

The module develops a range of skills of value in employment particularly around understanding and taking part in the process of creating, developing and communicating ideas and taking initiative to translate these into programmes of ethical and rigorous action through project management approaches. It allows you to extend your knowledge of an area of interest in an enquiry-led approach to developing a dissertation topic and, where relevant, results in networking for research which can also be used to aid future employment opportunities. The module encourages the development of creative and imaginative problem-solving skills and specific parts of the course focus on employability in relation to research skills and the dissertation.

The module is informed by research expertise both in and beyond Geography at Exeter and literature on designing effective research in Human Geography. It is also informed by pedagogic research on effective approaches to support students in developing dissertation plans.

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 research design within human geography, in a range of contexts
  • 2. Explain the relevance and significance of different forms of geographic knowledge to research design and implementation

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 approaches and issues involved in collecting, analysing and presenting geographical information, both qualitative and quantitative
  • 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 and appropriately interpret and evaluate different forms of research design and practice
  • 11. Understand the role of research methods in developing a coherent graduate attribute profile to enhance employability

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Research design in human geography: an introduction and context
  • Formulating ideas for a dissertation project
  • Ethical practice in research
  • The ontological and epistemological basis of research design
  • Methods and methodologies
  • Practical considerations in research design
  • Issues of rigour, validity and generalisability
  • Forming questions and reviewing literature
  • The process of analysing and writing-up
  • Presentation of dissertation project ideas
  • Writing a dissertation proposal
  • Dissertations and employability

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 Teaching11Lecture-based classroom sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Group tutorial meetings with research design/dissertation tutor
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Forum for presenting dissertation ideas
Independent study132Background reading, examination revision and coursework preparation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial group dissertation presentations3-5 minute individual presentation 1-8, 10-11Oral

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 hour1-8, 10-11Written
Dissertation proposal poster (A3)20A3 posterAllOral and written
Dissertation proposal402000 wordsAllWritten


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-8, 10-11August Ref/Def period
Dissertation proposal poster (A3)Dissertation proposal poster (A3)AllAugust Ref/Def period
Dissertation proposalDissertation proposalAllAugust 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

The following represents an indicative list of basic reading to accompany key components of GEO2326. Guidance on additional reading will be provided alongside sessions during the module.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Geography, human geography, research design

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date