Skip to main content


HSS8020 : Designing Doctoral Research

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jen Tarr
  • Lecturer: Dr Ana Lopes, Dr Mwenza Blell, Dr Dariusz Gafijczuk, Dr Tina Sikka, Dr Emily Clough, Dr Nicky Gardiner
  • Owning School: School X
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


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

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.

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 one of the lenses discussed in the module in relation to the researcher's own interests
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.

Reading Lists