Module Catalogue 2022/23

HSS8020 : Designing Doctoral Research

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jen Tarr
  • Lecturer: Dr Ana Lopes, Dr Mwenza Blell, Dr Dariusz Gafijczuk, Dr Tina Sikka, Dr Emily Clough, Mr Nicholas Gardiner
  • Owning School: School X
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module aims to provide researchers with a series of questions through which they can better understand the design of their PhD research. Each session will focus on a particular question, providing different perspectives that help researchers to situate their own project in relation to the key issues and debates in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Aims include:
- providing a broad based and interdisciplinary encounter with questions of research design across the arts, humanities and social sciences;
- introducing principles for evaluating quality across a range of research methods and approaches;
- developing researchers' skills in understanding theory and practice;
- helping researchers to focus their own doctoral research plans.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will normally address the following topics and questions:

- Where do I start?: Connecting theories and methods
- What do I want to know?: Research topics, questions and hypotheses
- What am I working on? Data, texts, and other materials
- Is it all biased?: objectivity, subjectivity and reflexivity
- Can I prove anything?: Claims and evidence
- How do I focus my study?: Choosing cases and sampling
- Is it ethical?: applying research ethics in different contexts
- Is it sustainable?: doing research in a climate disaster
- Is it decolonial?: UK universities and global knowledge production
- Wrapping it all up: summary and assessment overview

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module, researchers will be able to:

- understand the relevance of the lenses introduced in the module to their own research projects;
- recognise the strengths and limitations of a range of different approaches to research;
- understand the relationships between theory and practice in different research designs;
- situate their work within the broader framework of knowledge production in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module, researchers should be able to:

- write coherent accounts of issues such as research topic, case selection, and reflexivity that are relevant to their research;
- identify ethical issues and apply principles of research ethics to their own work;
- take steps to manage data effectively;
-communicate effectively about their research to an multi-disciplinary audience;
- work independently and in interdisciplinary groups.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading701:0070:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching for this module will consist of a mixture of present-in-person lectures, directed online material, readings & activities, and seminars. Under each topic, the perspectives of multiple contributors from different disciplines will be presented and contrasted, so that researchers can situate their own work in relation to key theoretical and methodological traditions in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Seminars will focus on practical activities that illustrate the application of the guiding questions to the researchers' own work.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A100A 2000-2500 word report addressing two of the lenses presented in the module in the context of the researcher's own work
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment asks researchers to develop their research plans in terms of the questions presented in the module. Researchers will select two questions and outline how these relate to their own planned projects. They will be assessed on their ability to connect the theories and methods discussed in the module with their proposed practice, and demonstrate independent thought, originality or innovation in relation to their proposed research. The material developed for this assessment will assist researchers in developing research proposals.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.