Understanding Research Methods

This course enables students to develop their understanding of research methods, and confidence in designing a research project, choosing and executing appropriate methods, and assessing its intellectual/academic rigour.

About The Course

This course is about demystifying research and research methods. It will outline the fundamentals of doing research, aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at the postgraduate level. It places the student experience at the centre of our endeavours by engaging learners in a range of robust and challenging discussions and exercises befitting SOAS, University of London's status as a research-intensive university and its rich research heritage.

This course will appeal to those of you who require an understanding of research approaches and skills, and importantly an ability to deploy them in your studies or in your professional lives.

In particular, this course will aid those of you who have to conduct research as part of your postgraduate studies but do not perhaps have access to research methods courses, or for those of you who feel you would like additional support for self-improvement. No prior knowledge or experience in research is required to take this course and as such, the course is for everyone. 

This course draws on a wealth of existing course material developed to support research training across SOAS, University of London and particularly drawing from the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD).

Frequently Asked Questions

What are research methods?
There is no universal definition of research methods and this 6-week course will provide an insight of our understanding of them. What the course aims to do is to help you answer the question: what is your understanding of research methods?

What resources will I need for this class?
For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, the time to read, write, reflect and discuss, and willingness to contribute to the mutual learning experience.

Can I gain credit for this course?
This is intended to be an introductory outreach course, taken on an extramural basis. No credits will be awarded.
Where can I find more information regarding the University of London and its programmes? 

The University of London is a federal University which includes 18 world leading Colleges, who offer many levels of study including foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as diplomas and research degrees. 

It is, however, not essential to be in London to study for a University of London degree. 

The University of London International Programmes was founded in 1858 and is the world's oldest provider of flexible learning. Its programmes have enriched the lives of thousands of students by offering the opportunity to study for a University of London degree from anywhere in the world. 

These programmes result from a collaboration between the University of London International Academy and 12 Colleges of the University of London. Today there are 54,000 students in 190 countries studying through the University of London International Programmes, for more than 100 qualifications at degree, higher education diploma and certificate level. For more information, please visit: www.londoninternational.ac.uk 

The 'Understanding Research Methods' course has been developed in collaboration with SOAS, University of London, one of the Colleges of the University. SOAS, University of London is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. For more information on SOAS, please visit: www.soas.ac.uk

Recommended Background

There is no specific single textbook to accompany this course, however in certain weeks we will refer you to a particular article or chapter from a book (details will be in the Syllabus).

One such book is: Tracy Bowell and Gary Kemp, Critical Thinking, 3rd Edition (Routledge 2009). The first chapter is available on the web, which you may care to consult at this juncture. 

In addition, it is recommended that you refer to a range of  supplementary resources as background material. As you may have noticed, there are numerous books and articles out there with 'Research' and 'Research Methods' in their titles. They come in all formats and styles. Some are free and some are not. Don't be afraid to pick ones that work for you!