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Research Methodologies in Action

Module titleResearch Methodologies in Action
Module codeGEO2466
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Alasdair Jones (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module provides grounding in the knowledge and skills required to understand and apply social research methods used by human geographers. The module introduces you to a range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods (spanning data collection and analysis). Discussion of, and training in, these methods will draw on examples of social research across a range of topics. The module will be taught using a combination of lectures and practical workshops.


This is a compulsory module for second year BA Geography programme students and is recommended for FCH students wishing to undertake a human geography field trip and/or dissertation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to introduce you to qualitative and quantitative approaches to empirical social research in human geography, and to a selection of primary data collection and analysis techniques associated with those. By the end of the module, you should have a good understanding of a range of uses and purposes of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches, both in principle and practice. You should also be in a position to identify methods appropriate to your own research questions, to undertake your own data collection and analysis, and to understand the methodological choices made by social researchers (as well as the implications of those choices for the sorts of claims that can be made in their research).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe methodological approaches to analysing empirical information in social research
  • 2. Demonstrate a formal understanding of relationships between data, concepts, and explanation that characterise research methodologies used in human geography and related fields

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Distinguish between the role and features of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in human geography research
  • 4. Explain the uses of particular research methodologies used in human geography
  • 5. Apply methods for analysing and/or interpreting data suited to different sorts of research questions in human geography

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Interpret empirical data effectively and critically
  • 7. Analyse and synthesise research data in a methodologically rigorous way

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The following syllabus plan is indicative of the issues we will explore in the module:


Part 1: Research Methodologies in Action – collecting and analysing textual data

  • Conceptualising, generating and sourcing textual data (with a focus on archival data and data generated through interviews)
  • Making sense of textual data – analysis and interpretation



Part 2: Research Methodologies in Action – collecting and analysing survey data

  • Conceptualising, generating and sourcing survey data (with an emphasis on numerical data collected using surveys)
  • Making sense of survey data – analysis and interpretation


In both parts of the module, we will also attend to the collection and analysis of data beyond textual and survey data, for instance visual data and big social data, introducing you to other forms of data used in empirical human geography research.

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 Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching12Workshops
Guided Independent Study128Additional reading, research and preparation for the module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Workshop activities – Part I3 Workshops2, 5-7Small group and cohort feedback during workshops
Workshop activities – Part 23 Workshops2, 5-7Small group and cohort feedback during workshops

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
Coursework 1501500 words1-2, 4-7Written
Coursework 2501500 words2-6Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Coursework 1Coursework 11-2, 4-7August Ref/Def period
Coursework 2Coursework 22-6August Ref/Def period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


  • Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. [eds.] (2005) Methods in Human Geography: A guide for students doing a research project [2nd ed.]. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Harris, R. (2016) Quantitative Geography: The Basics. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Hay, I. and Cope, M. [ed.] (2021) Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography [5th ed.]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lovell, S.A., Coen, S.E. and Rosenberg, M.W. [eds.] (2023) The Routledge Handbook of Methodologies in Human Geography. Abingdon: Routledge.


Web-based and electronic resources:


  • ELE – Faculty to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages
  • Sage Research Methods portal (available using a University of Exeter institutional login)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Research Methods, Human Geography

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date