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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Advanced Issues in Socio-Cultural Research (PGSP11101)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course will offer advanced training in the ideas, issues and methodologies central to carrying out interdisciplinary socio-cultural research. It will be organised through seminars and workshops. The aims of the course are to:
- enable students to critically evaluate key debates concerning theory and epistemology in interdisciplinary socio-cultural research;
- provide students with an understanding of the possibilities, strengths and also limits of particular methodologies, in relation to the goals and desired outcomes and knowledge-claims intended for pieces of interdisciplinary research;
- engage students in debates concerning the analysis of interdisciplinary research and the epistemological, ethical, political and practical problems entailed;
- enable students to think from interdisciplinary perspectives to design interdisciplinary research projects focused on their own intellectual concerns;
- encourage students to use the course to develop a theoretical and methodological approach for their MSc dissertation and possible PhD research; and
- challenge students to work at an advanced level in a course that will 'join up' theory, methodology and research practice.
Course description The Course is a compulsory requirement for all postgraduate research students studying for the MSc by Research and/or Year 1 PhD in Sociology and Socio-Cultural Studies. Those PhD students who have previously completed the MSc by Research in the School of Social and Political Science are not required to attend, but may wish to do so, because the class meetings prepare participants for the end of year New Directions conference, where all Year one Postgraduate Researchers are required to present their research proposal to the Sociology group and other academic colleagues.

The course focuses on the craft of research, the articulation of a sociological and socio-cultural perspective, its translation into the design of a research project and its expression in academic writing. It draws on leading edge research in Edinburgh Sociology. In the writing workshops, we explore particular aspects of the craft of academic writing. The second semester offers preparation for the presentation given towards the end of the academic year in New Directions.

Outline Content

1. Introduction and writing an academic CV This introductory session begins by organizing an Academic Curriculum to best reflect your work, interests, skills and experiences. A template will be provided.

2. Reviewing or assessing a journal This task is intended to prompt you to think about the discipline of Sociology in a slightly different way, and to locate your research interests within it. In small groups, you will assess two journals: Is it a specialist journal or a general journal? What kinds of articles do they publish? Are they predominantly qualitative or quantitative? What is the word length? Is there variety in the subject matter? What do the articles in the particular issues that you've chosen have in common? Do the articles begin with an empirical problem or a theoretical one?

3. Writing and editing a book review for publication, Session I We will devote two sessions to this assignment. It has several aims. First, it is intended to complement the 'literature review' section of your MSc/PhD project; second, it invites you to think critically - but generously - about a new book in your field, and to locate it within the wider literature; third, it encourages you to concisely analyse both argument and content; fourth, it gives you the opportunity to edit someone else's book review, and thereby gain a new perspective on editing your own work; and finally, it gives you a chance to direct your review toward a book review editor of a relevant journal. So in the first session we begin by choosing a book and a journal that will publish your review.

4. Craft of research: Ethnographing Cultural Production Back Home This week we will look more closely at some of the considerations involved in being a participant observer at home. We will seek to address a number of questions on the positionality of the researcher in the field, continuously (and immediately) renegotiating boundaries of friendship, intimacy, professional collaboration, family, and research. How do these complexities influence ethnographing situated cultural production?

5. Writing and editing a book review for publication, Session II We continue from Week 3, session 1.

6. Craft of research: Reflections of an Early Mid-Career Researcher We discuss some common misconceptions about graduate school and life after graduate school that incoming postgraduate students tend to hold.

7. Craft of Research: Researching the Ordinary Political challenges arising from austerity and sustainability, alongside the emergence of technically sophisticated 'mobile' and 'live' methods, have helped to focus social scientific attention on the ordinary or the everyday. In this session we will look at some of the challenges of researching the ordinary, taking as an example the Liveable Lives project, a study of everyday 'kindness'. In particular we will look at research participants' reflexivity; that is, their experience of having their ordinary, everyday lives researched.

8. & 9. Writing for lecturing (in small groups) This semester we begin writing about your project for different academic audiences. This workshop on writing a lecture outline has two objectives. Most immediately, it asks that you think creatively and imaginatively about how to present to first-year students some dimension, idea, or particular area of your work about which you are especially enthusiastic. And secondly, it asks you to think not only about the best way to present something to attract interest in Sociology, but also to be mindful of how it might be at once engaging and accessible to a first-year class.

10. Revisiting the book review We return to the books reviews and assess progress, revisions and publication strategies.

1-3. Writing a research proposal, Sessions I-III The next 4 workshops encourage you to think about your research proposal, both for Board Paper purposes and in terms of how it might be presented to a grant or funding organization. Of necessity, you will have to pay particular attention to your methods/data: are your indicators really assessing (measuring) what you think they are? Does your evidence answer your question? Do you have access to interviewees? What is the difference between a literature review and a theoretical framework? It will also prompt you to carefully consider the potential impact of your research and, where relevant, its policy implications. We will do individual and group work as we craft research proposals.

4. Writing for publication This final workshop is not intended as an endpoint, but as a springboard for a potential publication. We will pull together some of what we have done in previous workshops and explore how to think about preparing an article or working paper based on some aspect of the research that you will undertake after this course ends.

5-10. Project presentations These last sessions are designed for crafting, delivering, critiquing and improving your project presentations, both in terms of content and delivery in advance of New Directions.

The Course takes the form of a participatory workshop, meeting for weekly for two hours.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  10
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 352 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This is a pass/fail course, to achieve a pass in the course students are required to:
- Attend every session
- Prepare an academic Curriculum Vitae
- Outline and present a first-year lecture in a small group based on your area of interest
- Present your research project to the class for extensive comment and feedback
- Write and submit to a book review for publication
- Make a research presentation to the New Directions Conference
- Attend all Sociology Seminar series talks and be prepared to discuss them in class
Feedback Students receive written or oral feedback on each of the submitted pieces of work (CV, book review, class presentation, and New Directions presentation), and on their research presentation by the course convener and peers in-class, and by Sociology staff and students at the New Directions conference.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Be alert to the changing ideas and 'place' of interdisciplinarity
  2. Understand the epistemological, ethical, political dimensions of socio-cultural research
  3. Critically evaluate ideas and debates concerning theory and practice in socio-cultural research
  4. Engage authoritatively with the strengths and limits of appropriate methodologies as they design a research project
  5. Effectively present their ideas and research designs in public fora and respond to constructive suggestions
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Radhika Govinda
Tel: (0131 6)50 3916
Course secretaryMs Aikaterini Charvala
Tel: (0131 6)50 4296
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