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GEO8010 : Creative Methods in Social Science

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Alastair Bonnett
  • Lecturer: Dr Josep Almudever Chanza, Dr James Riding, Dr Adam Badger
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 30 student places

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


How might we affect people more fully with our research? Get people thinking and feeling the issues more directly? This module picks up the ongoing and substantive interest in innovative research methods and creativity across the social sciences. This is a lively field in which scholars are drawing on and experimenting with the arts and other creative practices to devise new ways of engaging with our ‘subjects’, to produce new ways of representing the world, and often to forge a more intimate, more deeply felt public politics.

The aims of the course are to:

- Explore the use of creative approaches and methods in social science research.
- Deepen the exchange between the social sciences and the arts.
- Provide opportunity for students to collaborate with their colleagues in a supportive environment.
- Develop new methodological skills and literacies.
- Provide a productive and fun co-learning setting.
- Experiment with new ways of producing and communicating research.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is an invitation to experiment and devise new ways of producing academic knowledge. We expand what counts as valid social science knowledge by placing the experiential, the personal and creative at the centre of our academic work. We value embodied practice, and the sensory and emotional experiences and descriptions of life and place. We are interested in how our research can be produced, communicated, and presented through a range of creative methods. These methods and approaches offer ways of reaching and constituting new publics for our work and ask us to reframe how we capture and communicate our worldly encounters. We push academic knowledge and ‘output’ beyond the edges of the academic essay and journal article and look to creative practices to not only expand how we represent the world but also how these might help us to articulate and envision more hopeful futures.

Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself creative! No prior experience or artistic skill is required to succeed in this module. We ask only that students bring their curiosity and willingness to experiment.

This course is organised around a series of creative doings. These practices will develop and extend the methodological skill set and know-how of postgraduate students. Through lectures, discussions, workshops and urban excursions, students will be introduced to and practice a range of creative methods and approaches, including creative non-fiction and ethnographic writing, psychogeography, photo-essay, subjective mapping, body mapping, and zines. The course is organised in weekly blocks focused on a particular method or approach and delivered in a combination of introductory lecture, excursion, and immersive workshop.

In assessment work, students will devise an in-depth final creative project responding to a central theme and site chosen by the teaching team – these themes and sites will be situated within of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Topics and methods on the course may include:

Creative non-fiction      
Ethnographic writing
Documentary theatre
Photographic essay
Subjective mapping                              
Body mapping      

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching72:0014:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1091:00109:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Introductory lectures will provide students with background and provide rationale and examples which set the stage for student experimentations. Lectures will be supported by pre-set weekly readings demonstrating a range of creative approaches and methods in social science research. Small group, experiential and hands-on teaching is fundamental to the learning objectives of this course. The course is structured into blocks addressing and engaging different methods and approach. Introductory lectures will often be followed by an urban excursion in Newcastle in which students will collect materials (i.e. text, photographs, sketches, interviews). These materials are returned to class where they are workshopped in the form and method of that week (i.e. place writing, photo essay, zine, map, diary, poem). Lectures, readings, excursions, and workshops all feed into and inform student’s assessment work which is a review of existing artwork and final creative project responding to a central theme, site or issue identified by the teaching team.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M251250 words
Design/Creative proj1M75The theme and focus of this project will be set by teaching team.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Course work will form 100% of course assessment.

Assessment I: Essay (1250 words, 25%)
Students will produce a critical review of an existing creative work. This could be a gallery exhibition, public installation, or artistic intervention (street art, yarn ‘bombing’, flash mob), community or live performance, poem collection, novel or graphic novel.

Assessment II: Final Creative Project (75%)
Students will produce a creative project in their final assignment. This could invole selecting one method covered in the course and could take different medium or form. It could be a zine. Or an ethnographic creative writing journal. It could be a photographic essay with ethnographic description. A short podcast or subjective map. Body map or zine. Its form will be determined in dialogue with course instructors. The project must respond critically and creatively to that year’s issue and theme or location in the city identified by teaching staff.

Reading Lists