Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : African Studies

Postgraduate Course: Research Design (Online Learning) (PGSP11622)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis online course provides a solid grounding in the philosophical underpinnings and practical implementation of multidisciplinary research design and is intended to prepare students from a wide range of academic disciplines for doctoral study or extended research projects.
Research design calls for decisions about how research should be carried out, what kind of data should be collected and analysed, and how inferences should be drawn if the aims of the research are to be realised. The researcher has to be able to demonstrate that conclusions drawn from the research are robust and well-grounded epistemologically and theoretically. The course does not provide training in research methods; instead, it concentrates on the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of research designs as they relate to the aims, objectives and theoretical underpinnings of any piece of research.
This is a core course for all students taking the MSc by Research in Sustainable African Futures (distance learning) and it is not open to other students.
Course description This course will prepare students for the design and writing of a large research project. The course will introduce students to multiple approaches to designing a research project, including guidance on developing and integrating, literature, theory and methods, challenge-based and collaborative research, and generating research impact. Through recorded lectures, interactive conversations on the Discussion Board on the digital platform, readings, and weekly exercises through e-tivities (interactive online activities), students will develop an advanced understanding of a range of salient topics and tools, including epistemology, case study and comparison, literature reviews, multidisciplinarity, the politics of knowledge production, and how to effectively communicate findings.
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 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay (90%)
Students will be asked to write an essay of up to 4000 words which provides the basis for a research proposal, which will be created as part of the Dissertation core course of the programme. The assignment will be a logical framework for a research question of the students choosing, which offers an overview of the proposed field site, and outlines the importance of the topic and where it lies within wider intellectual debates. The assignment will also require a bibliography of literature that identifies relevant sources and research gaps. The assignment will enable students to develop a deeper understanding of their proposed research topic(s) in preparation for a more comprehensive research proposal to follow.

Discussion Board (10%)
In the Discussion Board students will receive prompts and questions relating to the topic of each class from the course convenor/tutor to reflect on and critically discuss. Reflections and dynamic conversations across students are monitored, supported and encouraged by the course convenor/tutor. The Discussion Board attached to each class/topic will remain open to students for 10 working days; after that they will not be able to contribute on that topic/class. This will allow for a timely interaction on the topic of each week.

E-tivities (no credits)
E-tivities: Each week, starting from Week 2, students are expected to work on e-tivities related to the weekly topic. These may relate to tools and exercises including (but not limited to) a short literature review, formulating and reflecting on research questions, communicating to policy makers, and data visualisation. For those e-tivities students will receive feedback from peers (through submission in a shared folder in Learn Ultra) and from the course convenor/tutor on a weekly basis.
Feedback E-tivities, online interactive exercises, will receive weekly feedback from the course convenor/tutor.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts and principles of research design.
  2. Create a comprehensive design for their own research project.
  3. Evaluate the robustness of research projects that use a range of approaches and methods.
  4. 4. Defend the choices they have made in designing their research project to general academic audiences.
Reading List
Franklin, A., & Blyton, P. (2013). Researching sustainability: a guide to social science methods, practice and engagement. Routledge.

Gebremariam, A., A. W. Yalew, S. Hirpa, A. Wondimagegnehu, M. Kaba, M. Assefa, I. Mitiku, E. J. Kantelhardt, A. Jemal, and A. Addissie (2018). "Application of the rapid ethical assessment approach to enhance the ethical conduct of longitudinal population based female cancer research in an urban setting in Ethiopia." Bmc Medical Ethics 19. doi: 10.1186/s12910-018-0328-8.

Lowe, P., J. Phillipson and K. Wilkinson (2013). Why social scientists should engage with natural scientists Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, 8(3): 207-222, DOI:10.1080/21582041.2013.769617

Mbembe, A. (2015) Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive. TRAFO Blog for Transregional Research. Available here.

Sultana, Farhana. 2007. Reflexivity, Positionality and Participatory Ethics: Negotiating Fieldwork Dilemmas in International Research. ACME 6(3): 374-385.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Independent research: Conduct research and enquiry into relevant issues through research design.
Analytical thinking: Analysis, synthesis and critical appraisal of literature.
Critical thinking: Capability to evaluate information thoroughly; identifying assumptions, detecting contradictory reasoning and defining terms accurately in order to make an informed judgement; ability to formulate a relevant research question and choose the appropriate methodology.
Handling complexity and ambiguity: have an understanding of contextually relevant ethics and values and ability to assess ethical challenges of work and research; demonstrate reflexivity and positionality in relation to own research topic.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ian Russell
Course secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information