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 Scott Orford
SemesterDouble Semester
Academic Year2014/5

Outline Description of Module

This module introduces students to the research methods used in planning and human geography. Research methods are crucial to all academic inquiry as the practical tools used to answer questions raised by policy makers, theoreticians, or other stakeholders groups. In a nutshell, methods connect theory with practice. As a consequence, our choice of methods must be appropriate to the type of theory we are using, and the type of empirical case we are investigating. This module aims to address these issues. 

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 andqualitative 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

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 potential 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 % Qualifying Mark Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 50 N/A
Individual Essay Based On Data Collected During Group Work - Qualitative Methods
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 35 N/A
Individual Gis And Statistical Analysis Project
N/A 1 N/A
Report 15 N/A
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.)(2003) Key Methods in Geography, London: Sage.

Denzin,N.and Lincoln,Y.(eds.) (2000) The Handbook of Qualitative Research, London: Sage.

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

May, T. (1998) Social Research:Issues, Methods and Process, 2nd edition,OpenUniversity 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. (2001) 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: AStep by Step Guide for The First Time Researcher, London: Sage

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