Module Catalogue 2024/25

GEO2043 : Key Methods for Human Geographers

GEO2043 : Key Methods for Human Geographers

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Niall Cunningham
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Code Title
GEO2140Research Design and Planning for Human Geographers
Co Requisite Comment

Co-requisite does not apply to Y001 students or exchange students.


This is an important module for students taking the BA (Hons) Geography programmes. The module introduces students to the range and diversity of research methods used in human geography and in the social sciences more broadly. Human geographers engage with social, cultural, economic and political life, and human geography as a discipline is rooted in empirically-informed, conceptually-focused research which enables those social, cultural, economic and political relations to be explored. The aim of this module is to provide students with a solid understanding of the diverse array of research methods and techniques that are used to collect data and conduct analysis and how these might work together in order to address research questions and prove or disprove hypotheses.

The module’s core aims are:

•       To introduce students to the diverse range of research methods used across human geography.
•       To explore both conceptual and practical issues in research methodology and the use of research techniques.
•       To draw connections between learning about tools and techniques for research on this module, and the production of research findings as explored through the range of modules offered across the Geography programme.
•       To make explicit connection between research methods in human geography and the development of graduate-level transferable skills.
•       To give students the confidence to proceed with original data collection and analysis for the dissertation at Stage 3.

Outline Of Syllabus

The actual content of the methods to be delivered will vary from year to year dependent upon the expertise of available colleagues. However, core content around research as a process will remain, covering topics such as:      
•       Finding research questions; perspectives on the research process
•       Research design
• Mixed Methods
•       Research ethics
Indicative methods to be covered may include some of the following:
•       Quantitative techniques and statistical analysis
•       Visualisation of data and GIS
•       Interviews
•       Focus Groups
•       Participant observation
•       Research Diaries
•       Textual and visual analysis

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

•       By the end of the module, students will have knowledge and understanding of the strengths and limitations of a range of research methods used in contemporary human geography and across the social sciences.
•       Students will be able to select an appropriate technique for a given research design or type of research question.
•       Students will understand the distinctions between primary and secondary data, extensive and intensive research designs, qualitative and quantitative data and analysis, positionality and the ethics of research.
•       Students will understand the issues of rigour and validity in the research process.

Intended Skill Outcomes

•       By the end of the module, students will be able to identify a range of types of data (numeric, textual, experiential, verbal, visual) and will understand issues around the collection and analysis of these different data types.
•       Students will be able to undertake collection and analysis of different types of data, including numeric, visual, experiential, verbal and textual data, or understand the principles and practices behind data collection and analysis.
•       Students will have developed their transferable or graduate-level skills, particularly in critical thinking and the synthesis of ideas, written and oral communication, participation in small-group discussions, problem-solving, information literacy, numeracy, self-management and time-management.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical61:006:00Multiple computer lab sessions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1167:00167:00Independent study, including some structured guided learning activities, assessment prep and production, practice of research methods, and independent learning.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Qualitative Methods teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Drop-ins support for first (x1) and second (x2) assessment
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

•Lectures provide the framework for learning on this module. All key ideas, concepts, techniques and practices are introduced in the lectures. Lectures are used to direct independent study through directed research and reading.
•Small group teaching sessions provide students with the opportunity to practice the application of different techniques of data collection and analysis.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M50Qualitative Portfolio, 1600 words
Portfolio1M50Quantitative Portfolio, 1600 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

•       The portfolio on Qualitative Methods provides students with the opportunity to explore two (out of a possible four) different research methods, asking them to consider the specificity of that method, the practicalities of conducting research using that method (for which they draw on exercises conducted during small group teaching) and on their understanding of specific aspects of that method.

•       The Portfolio on Quantitative Methods asks students to write on a continuous project built up over the course of the sessions on a quantitative approach, using methods and techniques introduced in lectures. This assessment is designed to test students on their understanding of the concepts and techniques of quantitative approach introduced in this module and applying these techniques critically to real-world datasets. The report requires students to engage with relevant literatures, drawing both on textbooks and research articles, and asks students to construct an argument through hypotheses testing and synthesising ideas from different sources.

•       The Qualitative Portfolio is 1600 words, matching the Quantitative Portfolio is 1600 words. This reflects the equal emphasis and value placed on qualitative and quantitative methods in the module.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

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Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.