You will study the following modules:
Advanced Perspectives on Africa
This module deals with areas of concern and debate in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. It is hinged around the concept of the 'postcolony' (and the literature concerning it) and its relationship to evolving political cultures and ideas about and/or exemplary instances of articulations in the public sphere. You will be asked to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to your guided and independent reading, then to identify and develop case studies of especial interest to you and to research these in the relevant literatures. The module will make featured use of research in and resources drawn from the Internet so as to explore areas of concern and debate in the immediately contemporary context of 'breaking news.'
Research Skills and Methods in African Studies
This module is a practical hands-on introduction to research methods which takes you through the process of defining a research topic; identifying and accessing sources, including archival and electronic sources; compiling a bibliography; producing an overview of existing work on the topic; designing a project; establishing a timetable; gaining research permission; the ethics of research; planning and executing fieldwork; using interviews and surveys; using photography, sound and video recording; keeping field notes; archival research; assessing and analysing findings; and writing up.
Introduction to Social Research
This module provides a general introduction to studying research and methods, and to preparing for a dissertation. It emphasises key skills such as searching literature, finding existing datasets, referencing, taking notes, reading and presenting a table of numbers, presenting an argument, and criticising an argument. It continues with consideration of generic issues for research, such as the main principles of ethics for applied empirical research, negotiating access to research sites, the role of theory, the philosophical bases for understanding the social world, and synthesising existing research through focus on the findings rather than the conclusions.
This module introduces students to the concepts and varieties of social science research designs. A key aim is to explain that design is independent of, and so does not entail, methods of data collection and analysis. Our intention is to link the introductory module to the modules on data collection and analysis through consideration of research questions and warranting practices. It is important that students consider from the outset the kinds of research claims and conclusions that they wish to draw from their evidence. The logic of this claim leads back to entail a design. Another key element of the warrant is the sample. The module introduces students to types and methods of sampling, and a range of research designs including experiments, quasi-experiments, design studies, action research, case studies and ethnography. These elements are all linked into an over-arching theme of the full cycle (or spiral) of research activity from knowledge synthesis through development and testing to engineering results into policy or practice.
Social Research Methods
The module will focus on the different stages of data collection, indicating how various methods of obtaining data can be used to gather both textual and numerical data. The importance of team solutions to larger scale data collection will also be covered. This module introduces students to the principles and practice of data collection, collation and analysis, with a focus on deepening understanding of the rationale for choosing appropriate methods throughout the conduct of a study. Teaching and learning exercises demonstrate the value of research skills in relation to both textual and numeric data. The module develops understanding and experience of different stages of the research process, indicating how various methods of obtaining, managing and analysing data can be used with textual and numerical data (with reference to different methodologies).