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POL3103 : Community-based Research in Politics

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Judy Murray
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0


Students who take this module will have the opportunity to develop their research skills (as well as a range of generic skills, including presentation and communication skills, leadership, teamwork, time management, project management and working with external partners) through active involvement in a real research project that is designed to address a genuine gap in the knowledge/understanding of policy-makers/practitioners interested in Newcastle and the North-East of England. The student researchers will have the opportunity to broaden and deepen their understanding of effective research practice. Throughout the module, students will be asked to critically reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses as researchers (as well as their generic skills) and they will be encouraged to contribute to the research project in ways that will allow them both to demonstrate their existing strengths and improve their skills in areas where they are less strong.

Outline Of Syllabus

Week 1: Overview of the research subject
Week 2: Newcastle and the North East of England
Week 3: Workshop and potential research questions
Week 4-5: Reviewing the literature
Week 6: Identifying a research question
Week 7-9: Research design
Week 10: Planning data collection and analysis
Week 11-13: Data collection
Week 14-17: Data analysis
Week 17-19: Drafting report
Week 20: Prepare report for presentation
Week 21: Present report at workshop
Week 22: Review of workshop
Week 23-24: Prepare portfolio

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:3012:00Skills training sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching221:0022:00Seminars to discuss research.
Guided Independent StudyProject work1200:00200:00Students working independently and in groups to complete research project.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00Workshops with practitioners.
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity140:0040:00Students reflecting on their development of skills and how to present them to potential employers.
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity201:0020:00Weekly student-led meetings to discuss their research.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery241:0024:00Weekly drop-in/surgery for students to discuss any questions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision40:302:00Individual meetings with students.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study174:0074:00Students working independently to revise and prepare material for their research portfolios.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be capped at 20 students so all teaching (seminars and skills training) can be conducted in a single small group. Students will be required to do independent study and (usually) produce written work that contributes to their group research project each week in advance of student-led group discussions, which will take place in small sub-groups, and a weekly whole class seminar with the module tutors. Additional skills training (e.g. teamworking, project management, presentation) will be provided through a series of interactive small group sessions and students will be encouraged to reflect on their learning and skills development throughout the module. The first practitioner workshop will allow students to engage directly with practitioners and policy-makers to identify potential research questions and the second workshop will give students the opportunity to present the results of their research. Each student will also have four scheduled one-to-one meetings with one of the module tutors during the module to discuss their progress in relation to the learning outcomes and the module leader will have a dedicated one-hour surgery every week for students taking this module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2M80Individual Research Portfolio (8000-10000 words)
Report2M10Group Report (5000 words)
Prof skill assessmnt2M10Group Presentation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The students will be primarily individually assessed on a research portfolio. This portfolio will be highly structured, asking them to address a number of different aspects of the research project in a very specific way. They will have a chance to revise elements of the research project as the project progresses. Given that the module will constitute a significant portion of the final year it is important to ensure that a significant portion of the assessment is individual. The individual research portfolio will give students a chance to develop their personal research skills while moving towards an overall group goal. Members of the research group will be asked to comment on each others work, and part of the assessment will consider the quality of the feedback provided. This should help emphasise the importance of constructive feedback when working on a team.

The work that they have done on these individual elements of the research projects will give the research groups the resources to construct their group report and presentation. Students will be working together on their research teams throughout the year and should be familiar with the work of the other groups. Bringing together this research into a group presentation and report will emphasise the importance of the team aspects of the project.

Reading Lists