CP0136 - Introducing Research Methods

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0136
External Subject CodeX210
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Christopher Bear
SemesterDouble Semester
Academic Year2015/6

Outline Description of Module

This module introduces students to some of the fundamental research methods used in planning and human geography. All academics and policy makers use research methods as the practical tools used to answer questions about society and the places where people live and work In a nutshell, methods connect theory with practice and generate the data we need to understand the world around us.In this module we being by looking at some specialist methods used by geographers and planners – GIS and descriptive statistics that allows us to map data and understand in a very general sense how different social, economic and cultural phenomena vary across space and at different geographical scales; and interviews, images and media that allow us to present a much richer, deeper understanding  of how people construct and interact in space and place    

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  1. to understand how and why certain methodologies are chosen for research projects
  2. to know the key strengths and weaknesses of key quantitative and qualitative methods
  3. to be able to conduct research using archives, images and media
  4. to be able to design, conduct, and analyse a qualitative interview
  5. to understand survey design, introductory statistics and GIS
  6. to identify, access and use secondary data to address planning and geographic issues
  7. to apply GIS mapping and statistical analysis to project work
  8. to critically evaluate the sorts of knowledge required to answer research questions

How the module will be delivered

The module will be delivered through a combination of lectures, guided workshops, surgeries, on-line sessions and in-class seminars. The lectures will provide students with the theory, concepts, examples and applications of the methods used in geography and planning research. The workshops will allow the students to practice the methods using real world data and applications. The in-class seminars will allow students to debate and discuss the methods and prepare for the assessments. The surgeries and on-line sessions will provide students with additional help and feedback

Skills that will be practised and developed

Problem solving skills

Communication, interview, and writing skills, including report writing

Working in small groups

Undertaking Interviewing and  focus groups

Spatial analysis and handling of geographical data

Basic statistical analysis and Mapping skills

Basic GIS skills

How the module will be assessed

Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment

Mapping Census Data exercise


A cartographically designed map of census data for a chosen Local Authority plus a short discussion (200 word)

200 words


GIS and statistical analysis project


An individual project involving mapping, GIS and descriptive statistical analysis of data

1000 word plus maps, tables and statistical output


Coursework on Qualitative Methods


Individual essay based on data collected during group work


2000 word




The opportunity for reassessment in this module


Students are permitted to be reassessed in a module which they have failed, in line with the course regulations. The reassessment will usually take place during the summer.



Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 50
Individual Essay Based On Data Collected During Group Work - Qualitative Methods
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 35
Individual Gis And Statistical Analysis Project
N/A 1 N/A
Report 15
Mapping Census Data Exercise Plus A Short Discussion
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

This module begins by introducing the types of research planners and geographers are involved in within the School. It outlines the range of research approaches undertaken, and the appropriate methodologies used to put them into practice. The autumn portion of this module focuses on descriptive statistics and basic GIS mapping applied to the analysis of UK statistical data.  Computer workshops via Learning Central resources on using appropriate statistical and GIS software are supplemented by light-touch introductory lectures and surgeries.  The module then introduces in the spring semester a range of key qualitative methods, including images, archives, use of the media, and interviews.

Essential Reading and Resource List


Clifford, N. and Valentine, G. (eds.) (2010) Key Methods in Geography, London: Sage.


Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (eds.) (2011) The Handbook of Qualitative Research, London: Sage.


Longley, P., Goodchild,M.F,, Maguire, D.J., and Rhind, D.W. (eds.) (2005) Geographical Information Systems and Science, 2nd edition, New York and Chichester: John Wiley&Sons.


May, T. (1998) Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process, 2nd edition, Open University Press.


Morgan, D.L. (1997) Focus Groups as Qualitative Research, London: Sage.


Salkind, N. J. (2004). Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics. London: Sage.

Background Reading and Resource List

Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press


de Vaus D.A. (1991) Surveys in Social Research, London: Allen and Unwin.


Walliman, N. (2001) Your Research Project: A Step by Step Guide for The First Time Researcher, London: Sage

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