BSc Planning and Real Estate

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Research Methods

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN30091
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? No


An understanding of Research Methods is essential to the practice of effectively conducting the collection and analysis of primary and/or secondary data. Within Planning, Environmental Management and Real Estate a range of theories and techniques are available to researchers making use of qualitative and quantitative approaches.
The PLAN30091 Research Methods module introduces students to the breadth of techniques available enabling them to undertake an independent research project. The module should be viewed as introductory training for the mandatory PLAN30000 Dissertation module and is structured to provide students with the skills needed to develop a research proposal, and subsequently to complete their Dissertation.
The module will introduce a range of areas critical to the completion of a dissertation including the process of identifying a research topic, structuring a proposal, a reflection on primary/secondary data sources, qualitative/quantitative techniques of data collection, ethical considerations and issues of plagiarism. The module will also discuss the structure of the dissertation and how alternative research methodologies can be used to support your independent research.




The module aims to equip students with the following knowledge:
To develop students' understanding and use of alternative research methods in preparation for the execution of their dissertation;
To enable students to understand and formulate research questions and hypotheses;
To provide students with a broader understanding of the use of research methods to enable them to critically evaluate the research output of others;
To consolidate the students’ knowledge on a range of research skills required for the obtaining, analysis, presentation and interpretation of a range of data, both quantitative and qualitative.





The course will be comprised of the following main topics:


• Introduction; Why Research Methods in P&EM

• Topic selection

• Identifying your aim and defining research objectives

• Linking research questions to data collection processes

• Implementing research methodologies and discussing the results

• Research ethics, plagiarism

Teaching and learning methods

Virtual/Online blended delivery. All workshops is time-tabled for Monday 10am-12pm

Each teaching session will provide an opportunity for students to discuss their proposed projects with other students and PEM staff. The sessions will be both interactive and iterative in format allowing students to develop their thinking and use other members of the module as critical friends offering advice on how the project could be evolved. It is therefore essential that students come to each teaching session prepared. This includes initial thoughts on the topic, literature, methodologies and types of analysis.

Knowledge and understanding

Understand the processes of identifying a research topic, developing research plan and implement research methodologies;
Understand the characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research in Planning, Environmental Management and Real Estate;


Intellectual skills

Prepare research plans that employ a range of research methods including surveys, questionnaires, interviews, case studies and archival techniques;
Demonstrate an understanding of the principles behind the above;
Use a range of IT resources to obtain, analyse and present information;

Practical skills

Use of various IT software to present information in a professional manner;
Competency in presenting ideas verbally;

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Use of different research methods to develop research in the context of both P&EM course units and the professional practice.

Assessment methods

Summative Assessment (Assignment 1)Research Proposal (100% of module grade)
Assessment 1: Submission Week 10 – Thursday 28th November 2pm via Blackboard/Turnitin
Students are asked to produce a research proposal for their Dissertation (PLAN30000) outlining their topic/s, engagement with literature and proposed methodology that will be used to structure their independent research project and allocate supervisors to projects/dissertations.

Formative/non-graded Assessment (Mandatory) Research Proposal - Word Limit – 500 words (excluding references)
Submission Week 5 – Thursday 24th October 2pm via Blackboard/Turnitin
Students will be expected to submit an initial short-from assignment (approximately 500 words) that will be marked informally, i.e. as a formative assessment, to provide interim feedback on the developing ideas for the dissertation. The assessment should include initial reflections on the following:
1. Title
2. Aims and objectives
3. Literature overview
4. Methodology
The assessment will be used to provide guidance on the choice of topic and focus of the research, which can be developed further in the summative assessment.

Recommended reading

Essential reading

Walliman,, N (2006) Social Research Methods. SAGE
Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics. SAGE.

Further reading

Clifford, N., Cope, M., Gillespie, T. & French, S. (2016) Key methods in Geography, 3rd Edition. London: SAGE.
Farthing, S. (2016) Research Design in Urban Planning: A Student’s Guide. Sage, London.
Flowerdew, R and Martin, D (2005) Methods in Human Geography: a guide for students doing a research project, Longman, Harlow. 2nd edition.
Hakim, C. (2000) Research Design: successful designs for social and economic research, 2nd Edition. Routledge, Abingdon.
Kitchin, R and Tate, N J (2000) Conducting Research into Human Geography: theory, methodology and practice, Prentice Hall, Harlow
Robson, C. & McCarten, K. (2016) Real World Research, 4th Edition. Blackwell, Oxford.
Sheppard, A. & Smith, N. (2014) Study Skills for Town and Country Planning. Sage, London. Chapter 12: Writing a Dissertation, pg. 171-187.

Web resources
CASWEB, Web of Science, GeoBase, BIDS, Digimap, various online data archives
Other electronic resources / programmes: Excel, ArcGIS
Other: Past student dissertations in the Kantorovich and Main Libraries

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 89

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ransford Antwi Acheampong Unit coordinator

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