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SP50305: Research skills for international development, policy and practice

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2017/8
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Dissertation Synopsis (CW 50%)
  • Participation (CW 50%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites:
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
To give students a practical introduction to research methodology in the context of international development. To discuss the character of international development as an applied field of policy and practice, and the implications this has for development research. To promote reflection on underlying philosophies of research and how these shape approaches to data generation and analysis. To examine the use of different methods in relation to different policy and practice needs. To introduce the politics of data and evidence, issues of positionality and ethics. To explore notions of rigour and to debate the meaning and impact of 'evidence based policy'. To build the skills to read and understand qualitative and quantitative research outputs. To formulate a research synopsis containing a clear research question and with plans for a possible answer. To develop the skills to undertake an effective piece of research as an MSc dissertation.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the unit students should have:
* Critical understanding of the role of different philosophies of research and how these relate to international development as an applied fleld of action and study
* Critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different methods with respect to different research objectives in international development.
* Awareness of ethical practice in development research
* Understanding of the challenges of applying and communicating research to achieve impact in policy and practice
* Critical awareness of the meaning and nature of 'evidence' in international development
* A deeper and more critical understanding of how to formulate and develop an original research question
* Experience of interviewing and qualitative data analysis
* The ability to synthesise and interpret evidence to inform policy and practice
* The ability to be critical consumers and users of research evidence

Cross-cultural and interpersonal sensitivity (Taught/Facilitated)
Concise, time-bound and effective written communication (T/F/Assessed)
Effective oral communication (e.g. seminar presentations) (T/F)
Ability to develop rigorous arguments through precise use of concepts and models (T/F)
Ability to select, summarise and synthesise written information from multiple sources (T/F/A)
Ability to design an appropriate research response to address a specific problem in policy or practice (T/F/A)
Ability to formulate a research question, then develop and present an original & coherent answer (T/F/A)
Ability to conduct an interview and analyse primary qualitative data. (T/F)
Ability to read and understand the presentation of quantitative data (T/F)
Ability to produce work to agreed specifications and deadlines (T/F)
Ability to work independently, without close supervision or guidance (T/F)


* Reflection on the character of international development as an applied field of of policy and practice, and the implications this has for theory, knowledge and methods in development research.
* How different disciplines in development construct research problems, multi- and interdisciplinary approaches
* Inductive and deductive research design, quantitative and qualitative methods - what is good for what kinds of research problems and why
* Practical exercises in selecting appropriate methods to address particular problems
* Participatory and action research
* Using case studies effectively
* Reading qualitative research
* Reading quantitative research
* Practical skills for effective interviewing
* Identifying, collating and synthesising secondary data
* Methods of analysis for assessing the impact of policy or practice interventions.
* Formulating a research question and planning a dissertation.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

SP50305 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences

SP50305 is available for Auditing on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences