CPT876 - Researching Transport

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCPT876
External Subject CodeK460
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Dimitris Potoglou
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2015/6

Outline Description of Module

The module is organised in two parts.  Part A provides a generic introduction to and an overview of social science research methods. Part B provides skills and context in subject specific epistemological paradigms, methodologies and methods.

Part A of the module will provide the opportunity for students across all courses to attend ”Master-classes” from experts across the School of Planning and Geography in particular methods, techniques and perspectives.

For Part B of the module, students will acquire skills that are particularly relevant to the transport planning field. Part B of this module is further divided into two parts. These include an introduction to the primary analytical tool used in transport planning practice, the four-stage model (Part B1) and geographic information systems (GIS) (Part B2). Part B1 provides the principles and practice of building models for analysing and forecasting passenger transport, strategy development and appraisal. Lectures include practical examples which are used to demonstrate the basic principles and objectives of each stage within the urban transport modelling system. Part B2 introduces students to the use of GIS in planning through hands-on exercises, aiming to develop skills in the use of spatial data handling in a range of planning tasks. Each lecture of Part B2 is followed by a practical session which is concerned with the use of GIS in a particular planning task.

Together, Parts A and B of the module give students a robust post-graduate-level understanding of the tasks involved in undertaking pure and applied research in the field of planning and transport planning.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

 Part A – in respect to research in general

1.    Critically assess alternative approaches to social research and to recognise their strengths and weaknesses;

2.    Examine the empirical content and relations of ideas introduced in other modules;

3.    Identify suitable methodological approaches for a given research question;

4.    Understand the epistemological principles (theories of knowledge) that govern the activities of social research;

5.    Critically examine different strategies of data presentation and analysis;

6.    Develop a dissertation project and conceptualise and plan the research process and its component steps:

7.    Apply skills in selected methods relevant to a postgraduate dissertation.

Part B – in relation to transport planning research

8.    Explain and critically discuss the role of models in urban and transport planning.

9.    Identify the strengths and limitations of the systems approach to planning.

10.  Appreciate the contribution of models (as abstractions of reality) to the support of transport-related decisions.

11.  Correctly identify the components of the urban transportation modelling system approach known as the four-stage model.

12.  Describe and discuss the main technical components of the above model, including regression analysis, spatial interactions, and the discrete choice modelling framework.

13.  Use practical examples and exercises to understand the theoretical underpinnings of each of the stages involved in the urban transport modelling system.

14.  understand the current use of GIS in the planning domain and the use of such systems in applied planning situations;

15.  deal with the main data sets used by planners in GIS projects;

16.  appreciate the major tasks faced by researchers charged with implementing GIS in UK Local Government through practical, hands-on studies of the use of GIS, and explore the limitations of GIS.

How the module will be delivered

Part ‘A’ will be delivered by lectures supported by ‘masterclass’ workshops on particular research designs and methods.

Additionally, students will be required to attend four from a choice of research methods masterclasses delivered by experts from the field. For illustrative purposes in the past these have included the following:  

·         Mapping places in textual data

·         Introduction to Regression Analysis

·         Agent based modelling;

·         Researching how people use the built environment: multi-method

·         Deliberative and participative methods: focus groups, citizen juries and  
          competence groups

·         Participant-led research: strategies for research with vulnerable people

·         Small worlds: Exploring connectivity through social network analysis

·         Ethics and phronesis in planning  

Part ‘B’ of the module will be delivered by lectures and computer lab practical sessions. 

Skills that will be practised and developed

Whilst studying this module, students will practise and develop a number of skills.  Students will learn to identify the relative merits of contrasting epistemological and methodological perspectives on the research process.  They will learn when and how to use different research methods.  They will develop skills in ideas generation and in the identification of a researchable topic.  Students will also develop skills in writing research proposals and undertaking literature reviews.  Whilst not actually carrying out independent research in this module, students will be given the necessary skills to design and implement a piece of research on their own. 

For Part B in particular students will acquire the following skills:

1.    Skills of transport policy design and analysis which are now widely expected of transport planners working in the private and public sectors.

2.    Problem-solving skills and experience of building practical solutions to abstract geographical problems.

3.    Ability to produce their coursework in the form of a ‘consultancy-style’ report

4.    Skills and expertise in a major commercial GIS package that is widely used by planners (ArcGIS);

5.    Skills in data entry, analysis and presentation within ArcGIS, and experience in moving the data /results from ArcGIS to other software packages (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel etc);

6.    Experience in managing GIS projects;

7.    Enhanced skills in computer, IT and data management skills;

8.    Problem-solving skills and experience of building practical solutions to abstract geographical problems.

How the module will be assessed

Central to the course will be a major project which will require application of transport planning software for the study of urban transport issues.

Group Report - 50%
GIS Report - 50%

The potential for reassessment in this module

Students are permitted to be reassessed (usually once) 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
Group Report
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 50
Report - Gis Project
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

Part A of the module will begin by introducing students to the epistemological bases of social science research for “planning” (in its widest sense) and, after C Wright Mills, introduce the “planning imagination”.  This part of the module will then go on to outline the dominant research traditions in the social sciences and explain how these are intimately linked to choices made at each stage of the research process.  The connections between epistemology, methodology and method are established here.  The logic of enquiry for undertaking effective research is then explained along with an introduction to using quantitative methods, qualitative methods, mixed methods, case studies, secondary, documentary and archive research, visual research methods and field observation/ethnography.  This part of the module concludes with discussions on data analysis and presentation.

Part B offers a tailored suite of classes around urban and transport planning topics including:

·         Introduction to Planning, Geography, Models in Planning

·         Trip Generation

·         Trip Distribution

·         Mode Split and Modelling

·         Traffic Assignment

·         Introduction to GIS and planning; Practical One: Mapping data in ArcGIS

·         Representations of spatial data: the vector model and the raster model; Practical Two: Working with vector and raster data

·         Spatial analysis with a vector GIS; Practical Three: Site selection and planning

·         Spatial analysis with a raster GIS; Practical Four: Land use and site suitability analysis

·         Network Analysis and GIS Data; Practical Five: Network analysis with a vector GIS, and GIS data input, editing, management

Essential Reading and Resource List

Background Reading and Resource List

Not applicable

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