PG Research Methods CACE11001 (2012-13)

Course description

Course Description


This course is designed to support postgraduate students in developing their research projects and to assist them in defining their modes of enquiry. In order to inform their wider approach to research, it will offer a general introduction to postgraduate research, its challenges and methodologies, including the use of creative practice in academic research.


The course will cover:

(1) the practicalities of research, including setting and achieving realistic goals, planning, working in a team, using resources, presentation skills, and meeting institutional requirements and expectations of good practice,

(2) techniques for advancing knowledge and understanding, such as setting up a programme of reading to inform literature review, undertaking archival research, interviewing, observation studies, ethnographic research, gathering evidence, using qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as creative practice as research,

(3) approaches to developing a critical framework in which to review research and research methods, taking account of the contested nature of research practice.


The course aims to:

  • provide an introduction to key aspects of MPhil/PhD/MSc research,  including research tools, methods, ethics, legal questions and modes of  dissemination
  • support students in the development of their research plan
  • encourage students to reflect critically on the processes of  research
  • assist students in the articulation of a critical language  appropriate to their research aims and interests
  • encourage the development of a supportive research environment
  • enable students to learn from cross-disciplinary communication,  which means being familiar with the range of research practices applicable  to the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and art and design
  • provide pointers to further investigation into appropriate research methods


Please note that this course has a strong cross-disciplinary aspect with a view to your long-term career as a researcher beyond even your studies for MSc/MPhil/PhD. Increasingly, university academics, people working in museums, galleries, research institutes and in practice are called upon to contribute to cross-disciplinary research projects and proposals, and to assess projects from other disciplines. This course provides an excellent opportunity to find out what it is like collaborating at various levels with researchers from disciplines other than your own. Increasingly, disciplines are borrowing from each other’s repertoire of methodologies (e.g., applications to the funding councils requesting support for a bio-science project might ask for input from a historian or artist, and may generate an exhibition as one of its outputs). It is also good to be clear about what are the differences between your approach and that of other researchers. In the current research climate there is no  standard approach to research in a particular discipline, and there is a constant need for researchers to justify the way they conduct their research. Have a look at the website for the Arts and Humanities Research Council to get a flavour of the push for cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research, and accountability in research methodologies.


Written by Richard Coyne

June 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

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