SOAS University of London

Department of History

Project Design and Research Methods

Module Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year
The module provides an introduction to project design and research methods, building on the skills gained in the first year and laying the foundation for the final-year dissertation. In the first term, we focus on the basics of project design and management: identifying a problem, finding and managing the information with which to address it, interpreting the evidence, and presenting one's findings. Students will work in small groups of three to five to apply these principles, producing a publicly accessible piece of work and gaining experience in working in and managing a team. In the second term, we translate this experience more directly into the world of academic research: formulating a question, reviewing the literature, and deciding on a method (or methods), before gathering and analyzing the data and presenting one's findings. Students will apply the lessons learnt in formulating a proposal for the dissertation, which they will research and write in their third year. As in the first year, the module will be taught as a seminar, with considerable time spent on the drafting and revising, as well as peer reviewing, of the two projects.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, students will:

  1. Design and deliver a multi-stage project.
  2. Formulate and refine a convincing research question, on the basis of an engagement with the existing literature in the relevant field(s).
  3. Identify appropriate methods and data with which to answer the question.
  4. Work with others to divide labour, monitor progress, and deliver results.

Scope and syllabus

Term 1

1. Introduction
2. Assembling a team
3. Identifying a problem
4. Finding information
5. Planning the work
6. Managing information
7. Interpreting evidence
8. Illustrating your findings
9. Presenting your findings
10. Revising your work

 Term 2

11. Generating ideas
12. Finding a question
13. Reviewing the literature
14. Qualitative methods
15. Quantitative methods
16. Gathering data
17. Analysing data
18. Visualizing data
19. Presentations
20. Presentations

 Term 3

21. Introductions
22. Conclusions

Method of assessment

  • Peer review of one draft group project (FE3) of 1,000 words - worth 10%
  • Group project - 2,000 words per-person - worth 20%
  • Peer review of 2 x draft research proposals of 2 x 500 words - worth 10%
  • Research proposal for final-year dissertation of 2,000 words - worth 40%
  • Presentation of draft research proposal - worth 105
  • Seminar participation - worth 10%

Suggested reading

Core reading is restricted to research handbooks.

  • Bryan Greetham, How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation, Palgrave 2014
  • Nicholas Walliman, The Undergraduate Dissertation, Sage 2013
  • Kate Williams, Planning Your Dissertation, Palgrave 2013


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules