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Unit information: Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography in 2015/16

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Unit name Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography
Unit code GEOG23350
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Naomi Millner
Open unit status Not open

GEOG15010 Physical Geography; GEOG15020 Human Geography; GEOG15030 Geographical Practices; GEOG15040 Geographical Methods.


Other units defined on the C syllabus

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This course is designed to develop an understanding of the practicalities of using qualitative methods in geographical research. It builds on the philosophical questions about the nature of geographical knowledge grounding this within the historical and intellectual context of particular theoretical approaches to qualitative research carried out by human geographers over the last 40 years. The importance of marrying theory to practice is emphasized with a focus on how this shapes the choice of methods employed in conducting empirical research. Significantly, its aim is to expand the range of methodological experience and competence in preparation for framing and conducting a research project for a dissertation unit later this year.


  • To familiarise students with the methodological issues underpinning a qualitative approach to doing research
  • To enable students to gain experience of using different qualitative methods through practice
  • To give students the awareness that their methodological decisions shape the way they use different methods and that this in turn produces different kinds of data
  • To instruct students in the importance of linking theory with practice.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  • Understand the theoretical and practical issues underpinning the application of qualitative research methods in human geography
  • Conduct, and critically evaluate the appropriate use of, a range of qualitative methods
  • Design qualitative research projects in human geography

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Team working and collaboration
  • Problem solving
  • Lateral and strategic thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Planning, design and implementing research projects

Teaching details

Lectures, Practicals, Fieldwork

Assessment Details

Practical Project Work (4 mandatory summative assignments) 100% (25% x 4)

Percentage of the unit that is coursework: 100%

Additional Criteria in order for the student to be awarded the associated credit:

Submission of Final Dissertation Synopsis (Formative) – this requires the satisfactory standard in the completion and submission of the synopsis deemed essential to understanding the acquisition of professional skills in designing and planning a research project for the dissertation in Year 3.

Reading and References

  1. Eyles, J. & Smith, D.M. (eds) (1988) Qualitative Methods in Human Geography, (Cambridge: Policy Press)
  2. Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. (eds) (1997) Methods in Human Geography: A guide for students doing a research project (London: Longman)
  3. Limb, M. & Dwyer, C. (2001) Qualitative Methodologies for Geographers: issues and debates, (London: Arnold).
  4. Kitchen, R. & Tate, N.J. (2000) Conducting Research into Human Geography: Theory, Methodology and Practice, (London: Prentice Hall)
  5. Seale, C. (ed) (1998) Researching Society and Culture, (London: Sage Publications)
  6. Silverman, D. (ed) (1997) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, (London: Sage Publications)