CPT893 - Researching Urban and Regional Development

SchoolCardiff School of Geography and Planning
Department CodeGEOPL0
Module CodeCPT893
External Subject CodeK490
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Pauline Card
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2016/7

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 Geography and Planningin particular methods, techniques and perspectives.


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 social science research into regeneration. Students will learn to define research aims and objectives, design research strategies and select methods, and understand how disciplinary, policy and political context of regeneration issues affects the research to we do. It is designed to meet the needs of those that have undertaken undergraduate social science research by providing an opportunity to develop depth to their knowledge. For those who have not studied social science research methods previously it offers an introduction to the skills and components of research design.


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 postgraduate dissertation


Part B – in relation to urban and regional development studies:


  1. Critically assess research approaches and methodologies in relevant debates.

  2. Examine the purposes of contrasting approaches to knowledge production.

  3. Reflect on the role of social and institutional contexts for the research process

  4. 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 a number  of research methods masterclasses delivered by experts from the field. Part B: there will be up to 5 additional sessions which will be a combination of lecture and workshop/reading seminar provided by members of the regeneration course team and the subject librarian


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. 

How the module will be assessed

Research Proposal - 100%

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 will introduce students to a number of key aspects for undertaking urban and regional development research, including:


  1. Develop urban and regional development focused research questions

  2. Adopting a theoretical framework for research

  3. The application of relevant research methodologies

  4. Developing a research proposal that enables research questions to be fully addressed.

Essential Reading and Resource List

For 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.


For Part B:


Gomm, R.; Hammersley, M. and Foster, P. (2000) (eds). Case Study Method: Key Issues, Key Texts. London: Sage


Hantrais, L. and Mangen, S.  (1996) (eds). Cross-national research methods in the social sciences. London: Pinter.


Lewis, J. (2003). ‘Design Issues’. In: Ritchie, J. and Lewis, J. (eds). Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. London: Sage, pp. 47-76


Yin, R.K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage.

Background Reading and Resource List

Part B


Caistor-Arendar, L. and Mguni, N. (2012) Rowing Against the Tide: Making the Case for Community Resilience. The Young Foundation: London. Online : http://youngfoundation.org/publications/rowing-against-the-tide-making-the-case-for-community-resilience/


Franklin, A. and Blyton, P. (eds.) Researching Sustainability: a guide to social science methods, practice and engagement.  London.  Earthscan.

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