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Unit information: Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography in 2021/22

Unit name Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography
Unit code GEOGM0041
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Behzadi
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores the theory and use of qualitative approaches to research in human geography, including through an introduction to critical (feminist, postcolonial and decolonial) approaches, modes of knowledge production and practice. It covers foundational texts and approaches to research philosophies, ontologies, and epistemologies and methodologies as well as it trains students to the use of qualitative methods. The course particularly develops expertise in assessing how qualitative methods are used across geographical academic writing, applied knowledge and evidence-based policy, focusing on a wide range of methodological approaches and methods. This includes ethnographic methods (participant observation and others), interviews, focus groups, case studies, archives, visual and digital methods and participatory methods. The course is also directly relevant to helping students advance the design of their own research projects, such as dissertations and qualitative research conducted in non-academic jobs. As such, it complements the research design and training offered in the Dissertation Unit.


  • To expand the range of methodological experience and competence in preparation for framing and conducting a dissertation.
  • To familiarise students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds with the methodological issues underpinning a qualitative approach to doing research
  • To expose students to a range of different qualitative methods
  • To enable students to gain experience of using different qualitative methods through practice
  • To give students the awareness that their methodological decisions shape the outcomes of research
  • To instruct students in the importance of linking theory with practice.
  • To review the expectations of how methods are produced in published work.
  • To prepare students to produce the methodology sections of their own dissertations.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. Understand the theoretical and practical issues underpinning the application of qualitative research methods in the production of their own research;
  2. Conduct, and critically evaluate the appropriate use of, a range of qualitative methods;
  3. Understand and be able to mitigate the limits of particular quantitative methods.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Techniques in applying particular qualitative methods
  • Problem solving
  • Lateral and strategic thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Planning and design of research methods for a specific problem

Teaching Information

"The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace

Assessment Information


In preparation for seminars students will prepare a series of 7 short 500-word summaries of their use of taught methods undertaken throughout the unit. 3 of these will then be submitted for marking.


(30%) A 1500-word assignment consisting of 3 out of a total of 7 short 500-word maximum summaries of students’ use of taught methods undertaken throughout the course [ILOs 1-3]

(70%) A 3000-word written essay [ILOs 1-3]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GEOGM0041).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.