CPT887 - Researching Eco-cities

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCPT887
External Subject CodeK490
Number of Credits20
LevelL7
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Li Yu
SemesterDouble Semester
Academic Year2014/5

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 for planning.  Part B provides skills and contexts 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 specific methods, techniques and perspectives. 
 
For Part B of the Module, students will gain skills that are particularly relevant to understanding and evaluating eco-city development. 
 
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 into the analysis of eco and low carbon cities.

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 your dissertation.
 
Part B – in relation to eco-city studies:
8) Critically assess research approaches and methodologies in relevant debates.
9) Examine the purposes of contrasting approaches to knowledge production, such as that between ‘objective’ and constructed approaches to the idea of an eco-city.
10) Reflect on the role of social and institutional contexts for the research process.
11) Identify and evaluate different sources of evidence

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: will be delivered by a mixture of lectures, seminar discussions (including use of previously circulated reading material), and lab based work on methods to interpret inputs and outputs to eco-city living (e.g. SDNA and GIS). This will be supported with hand outs which will be made available on learning central (the university virtual learning environment).

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 students will gain skills that are relevant to the analysis of eco-city developments including (i) appraisal systems for eco-city master plans, (ii) software to analyse inputs and outputs to large scale developments, and (iii) analysis of data sets operating at a variety of spatial scales.

How the module will be assessed

Courswork 100%

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 course regulations. The reassessment will usually take place during the summer.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 100
Research Proposal
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 of the module will provide a tailored suite of sessions designed to develop the methodological expertise of those pursuing research on low carbon and eco-cities. Sessions will include: Mixed methods for eco-city analysis, helping to choose the right approach for a dissertation; Constructing and deconstructing appraisal systems; and an introduction to qualitative and quantitative analysis for eco-cities including using appropriate software applications.

Essential Reading and Resource List

Part A: 

Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods (4e) Oxford OUP.
Hennick, M (2011) Qualitative Research Methods.  London.  Sage.
May, T. (2011) Social Research: Issues, methods and process (4e).  Maidenhead.  OUP.
Silverman, D. (2010) Doing qualitative research: a practical handbook (3e).  London.  Sage.
Singh, K. (2007) Quantitative Social Research Methods, Thousand Oaks, Sage.
 
Part B: 
Franklin, A. and Blyton, P. (eds.) Researching Sustainability: a guide to social science methods, practice and engagement.  London
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