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Department of Development Studies

Fundamentals of research methods for Development Studies

Course Code:
15PDSH017
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 1
The course will offer an overview of the main research designs and techniques used in development research. It will put emphasis on both the use of secondary sources (text, numbers, images, audio, etc.) and the process of collecting primary empirical material for analysis. It will address the dichotomy quantitative-qualitative in social research methodology, the key differences between the two approaches and the potential for complementarity. With reference to applied cases the integration of different approaches will be assessed. By the end of the course students should understand basic social research methods, and their applicability in development studies in different contexts. This course will thus equip students with basic capacities to apply research methods to real world problems and evaluate their use in published research.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The main objective of this course is to equip development studies students with the basic tools to undertake independent research and evaluate research methods presented in development research work. Its main aim is to provide an introduction to basic epistemological considerations, the nature and stages of the research process, the exercise of formulating research questions and hypotheses, the understanding of data collection and analysis tools available in different research approaches. Some key learning outcomes are:

  1. the ability to interpret evidence
  2. assessing the methodological foundations of empirical findings;
  3. basic knowledge of the most widely used research techniques in development studies; 
  4. understanding of the suitability of various research approaches and techniques to specific research question

Throughout the course, some issues will be given special emphasis, namely: data availability; specific problems in data acquisition; limitations to applicability of generic research techniques in development studies; a critical understanding of the problems of using evidence and different research techniques; basic rules of fieldwork practice and ethics.

By the end of the course students should understand basic social research methods, and their applicability in development studies in different contexts. This course will thus equip students with basic capacities to apply research methods to real world problems and evaluate their use in published research.

Workload

Teaching takes place through a weekly 2 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay of no more than 5000 words. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.