BSc Global Development

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Skills for Global Development Studies 1 (Qualitative Methods)

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI10001
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


In this course unit, students will develop research and academic skills. The course unit will introduce a range of qualitative research concepts, methods and skills through lectures, readings and by providing students with an opportunity to apply their learning through a guided research project. Students will also develop a range of academic study skills, including identifying appropriate academic sources, reading academic texts critically, and using academic tone in writing and presentations. The course unit is designed to guide students in developing the knowledge, skills and personal qualities needed by global development studies students, as well as future development professionals.


This course aims:

  • To introduce key concepts, methods and skills used for qualitative research in global development studies
  • To deliver training in a range of academic skills, including the ability to comprehend, analyse, synthesise and evaluate academic writing, reference literature, pose research questions, construct arguments and synthesise complex ideas
  • To develop transferable skills, including the ability to manage time, work independently and with others, and communicate both in writing and verbally
  • To provide experience in the design, execution, analysis and writing up of qualitative research methods
  • To guide students in critically reflecting on the skills and personal qualities needed by development professionals

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will be delivered through two-hour weekly lectures, where core course material is introduced by staff and invited guest speakers. The first lecture will take place in-person. After this, all lectures will be pre-recorded, with students watching lectures on their own time, following a flipped classroom model.

Students will also be asked to complete 1-2 compulsory readings each week, and a short activity related to the lecture topic each week. These activities will introduce students’ to  qualitative research concepts, methods and skills. For example, students may be asked to: finding and citing a relevant research paper; reading and answering reflective questions about an ethic review application; watching a short video clip of researcher doing an interview and evaluating what the researcher did well; and analysing a transcribed interview. These activities will be done using padlet, so that students can review each other’s answers and learn from one another and the course instructor can comment on students’ answers as well.

Lectures will be complemented by two-hour weekly tutorials. Tutorials will begin with a short discussion on the weekly lecture, readings and padlet activity. After this, students will have time to work on their reflective research portfolio (Assessment #1) with the guidance of their tutorial leader. Each week, students will be assigned a different part of their research portfolio to work on. The research portfolio is designed to walk students through a research project from start to finish, thereby deepening students understanding of qualitative research concepts, methods and skills, while also preparing them to write their final research report (Assessment #2).

Students will be provided with a range of resources to support their learning, including PowerPoint slides for lectures which will be posted to Blackboard for all sessions, links to relevant web resources, core readings and video clips.

To further support students’ skill development, students will also be signposted to optional sessions offered across the university to improve their research and academic skills, such as training and skills workshops offered by the University of Manchester Library.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Explain key concepts, methods and skills used in qualitative research in global development studies
  • Describe and reflect upon the skills and personal qualities needed by development studies students and professionals

Intellectual skills

  • Evaluate the research design used and arguments made in qualitative research studies 
  • Describe principles for ethical research and explain the role of positionality in research
  • Construct research questions and arguments based on qualitative data that connect to relevant academic literature

Practical skills

  • Explain how to use different qualitative methods for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing qualitative data, and identify when to use different methods
  • Design and carry-out a qualitative research project, including constructing research questions, selecting appropriate methods, analysing data and identifying and present key findings
  • Use, find and reference academic and non-academic literature

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Organise and manage a research project
  • Work independently and with others
  • Communicate in writing and verbally using critical, reflexive and professional language and tone
  • Evaluate one’s own knowledge and understanding

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 40%
Portfolio 60%

Feedback methods

Assignment 1: Formative and summative: The reflective research portfolio will be formatively assessed throughout the semester in two ways. First, students will receive verbal feedback while working on their portfolio during tutorials. Second, students will use a digital tool like Blackboard Journal for this assessment. This will allow the course leader to periodically review student progress and leave formative audio feedback.

At the end of the semester, the entire research portfolio will be submitted for summative assessment.

Assignment 2: Summative: The research report will be assessed with written feedback and a grade at the end of the semester. The content and timing of feedback will be consistent with University policy.

However, as the reflective research portfolio will inform the research report, formative feedback received throughout the semester on the portfolio will also support student success with their research report.



Recommended reading

Desai, V., & Potter, R. (Eds.). (2006). Doing development research. Sage.

Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S., & Smith, L. T. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies. Sage.

Scheyvens, R. (Ed.). (2014). Development fieldwork: A practical guide. Sage.

Smith, L. T. (2021). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd..

Sultana, F. (2007). Reflexivity, positionality and participatory ethics: Negotiating fieldwork dilemmas in international research. ACME: An international journal for critical geographies, 6(3), 374-385.

Tiessen, R., Cameron, J., Grantham, K. and Husband-Ceperkovic, T. (2019), "The value of liberal arts education for finding professional employment: Insights from international development studies graduates in Canada", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 574-589.

White, P., & Devereux, P. (2018, January). ‘Learning’ Development. Forum for Development Studies, 45(1), 119-141.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 156

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Charis Enns Unit coordinator

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