KE5005 - Approaches to Research in Human Geography

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn the processes through which research is designed, implemented and analysed. Part of the module addresses questions of philosophy and theory, you will understand the historical development of geographical thought within human geography, and learn how we arrived at the subject’s contemporary sub-disciplines. These ontological and epistemological themes will then be linked to an evaluation of methodologies adopted in contemporary research in the social sciences. You will build a toolbox of approaches which can be applied to your own research.

In the other part of module you will construct your own research project that will become your dissertation at level 6. Through exploration of literature, case studies and best practice from a chosen field of human geography, you will develop the ability to design innovative research questions. You will link these to an appropriate methodology and select methods suitable for your project.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, independent learning, tutorials and directed tasks (e.g. preparatory tasks for seminars and tutorials). The lectures will cover key themes relating to geographical thought, methodologies, and the practicalities of undertaking research projects.

Seminars are designed to allow you to explore issues raised in lectures and readings in greater depth. Tutorials are included to allow you to discuss in detail, and gain feedback from, staff on a one-to-one basis.

Directed and independent learning tasks will be set to allow you to explore the module material in your own way, and as preparation for seminars and tutorials.

The module content will draw directly from staff’s own research experience.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will include feedback from tutors during small-group seminars, and one-to-one tutorials. In addition tutors will use the module’s discussion board at the University’s eLearning Portal respond to questions so that the whole module group can benefit. Time will be set aside in lectures and seminars to provide opportunities for Q&A on assignments and formative feedback. Coursework will be submitted electronically via the eLearning Portal.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: You will assess the evolution of geography into dynamic, plural and contested discipline, and the role of broader political and social change in shaping it.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 2: You will plan and design an extensive research project which will be robust enough to become your dissertation at level 6.
• MLO 3: You will be able to justify the merits of contrasting philosophies, theories and methodologies.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 4: You will demonstrate an awareness of health and safety, moral and ethical dimensions in the design and conduct of geographical field investigations.
• MLO 5: You will demonstrate your motivation, self-awareness, self-management and intellectual curiosity in the design of an innovative and bespoke research project.

How will I be assessed?

There are two summative assessments on this module. The first a two hour seen exam (worth 40% of the module) which assesses you knowledge and understanding of geographical thought in relation to human geography’s sub-disciplines (MLO 1).

The second assignment (worth 60% of the module mark) requires you to produce a research proposal (3000 words). This should include a review of relevant literature, research questions, detailed methodology, ethical considerations, and a risk assessment. (MLOs 2-5)

Health and safety assessment and ethics evaluation (pass/fail): a compulsory pass/fail element to ensure that your research plans are safe and ethically sound (MLO 4).

On an on-going basis the module staff will provide feedback based on seminar tasks, and you should record and track your own progress.




Module abstract

Undertaking research in human geography is an exciting way to understand more about the people, places and activities around us. This module is designed provide you will the skills to undertake an independent research project through the dissertation module at level 6. You will learn about the key thinkers in human geography, the schools of thought which influence how we do research today, and the best ways to construct interesting dissertations.

You will become aware of the ethics involved in doing research, and the responsibilities that come with academic investigations. By the end of the module you will have developed a bespoke research proposal which will allow you to begin your dissertation research.

Course info

UCAS Code L700

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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