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

Undergraduate Course: Social and Political Science in Practice (SSPS10026)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySocial and Political Science in Practice Buchanan Institute provides the framework for Honours students (typically in their 4th Year) to undertake faculty-student collaboration on research, teaching or public education and engagement
Course description Social and Political Science in Practice Buchanan Institute provides the framework for Honours students (typically in their 4th Year) to undertake faculty-student collaboration on research, teaching or public education and engagement. In the first years of development it will focus on group rather than individual projects. It may also be used for student-directed research and practical projects; and, exceptionally, for work-based placements and service learning. Project ideas may be initiated by staff or students but must be agreed by the course convenor. A key part of the process is the negotiation of the learning contract. Learning and teaching activities will vary according to the specifics of the agreed project and the Learning contract but will typically include intensive group work. Whilst projects will differ from year to year, an emphasis will be placed upon putting knowledge, theory, critical thinking and creativity ¿to work¿ on social and political issues. This may include identifying concrete actions for raising awareness and affecting social change.

In 2016/17 the course will be run as a year-long opportunity for 4th year students to conduct their own research projects with mentorship from academic staff members and peer feedback from fellow course participants following the approach of the (student-led) Buchanan Institute. At the beginning of the course students will form groups of three to four, then design a research question, conduct the research using qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods (including the collection of primary data or assessing secondary data), analyse the data and consider how to turn the research into practical use. The overarching theme for this year¿s projects will be: ¿Social and Political Inequality in Edinburgh¿. The goal for students is not only to conduct their research, but also to think about projects that can be used for knowledge exchange activities or forms of social and political impact in this field of enquiry.
The course runs over a year-long period to give students the time to conduct the different research steps. After initial course meetings to set up the groups, course meetings will take place every two to three weeks. At those progress points groups will present their work done and receive peer feedback as well as feedback from academic mentors. In between progress points, students can also get further support and mentoring from the course instructors.
Overall, the course will enable students to become researchers, utilising their knowledge and skills and enhancing them further, as part of a team with the goal to use their research to make a contribution to the community the university is based in.
Note: the research project undertaken has to be distinct to the work students undertake for their honours dissertations according with university rules on plagiarism.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Negotiate and prepare an appropriate and agreed learning contract, demonstrate efficiency, collaborative team-working (when appropriate) and autonomy in the management of the required project and delivery of agreed outcomes.
  2. Apply knowledge and critical thinking to new context (the project) and demonstrate ability to identify, define and analyse problems and identify or create processes to solve them
  3. Communicate project findings and outcomes in a professional and creative manner to relevant audiences
  4. Demonstrate reflexivity as independent learner
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry: be able to identify, define and analyse problems and identify or create processes to solve them; be able to exercise critical judgement in creating new understanding
Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: to be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning, and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement; and to be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views
Communication: make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding; use communication as a tool for collaborating with others; seek an value open feedback
Personal Effectiveness: be able to flexibly transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another and to concrete projects; understand social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities and issues
Special Arrangements The course has a strict quota of 20 students and places will be allocated based on application. If you wish to apply, please send an email to the course organiser ( in which you should state i) which research methods courses you have taken (please see pre-requisites above), ii) what your motivation is for taking this course (up to 200 words), iii) what sort of research project you could imagine to be interesting in the context of this course (up to 250 words) and iv) how you think work from a course like this could have an impact in Edinburgh (up to 250 words).¿

Please send your email the latest by Monday, 12 September 2016, 5pm. We will let you know by Thursday, 15 September 2016 whether you got a place on the course.
KeywordsStudent-researchers,student-practitioners,faculty-student collaboration
Course organiserProf Fiona MacKay
Tel: (0131 6)50 4244
Course secretaryMr Daniel Jackson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
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