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The University of Southampton

GEOG6097 Data Collection and Research Methods for Sustainability

Module Overview

GEOG6097, Data Collection & Research Methods for Sustainability, is a module which aims to equip students on the MSc Sustainability programme with the skills necessary to plan and undertake independent research, with a view towards the summer dissertations and beyond. Students are taught qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis and are given the opportunity to practise these during the module. Students receive instruction on fundamentals of research: academic integrity, ethics and risk assessments. They are shown where and how to search effectively for academic literature and how to use it to construct a literature review. Following sessions exploring different research methodologies which can be used for sustainability studies, the students get the opportunity to practice these principles before applying them to qualitative and quantitative reports which contribute to the assessment of the module. The later stages of the module see the students receive a series of guest lectures showing how the methodologies and practices they have learnt are applied in real-world research projects. Finally, all elements of the module are brought together as the students reflect on what makes for good research and apply that to a research proposal demonstrating the skills which they have developed.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Formulate research questions and associated hypotheses.
  • Plan a research project to address those research questions.
  • Understand why risk assessments and ethical assessments are needed for data collection and able to create these.
  • Conduct a review of relevant and appropriate literature.
  • Have an awareness and practical knowledge a range of quantitative and qualitative modes of scientific enquiry.
  • Use appropriate data sets (primary and/or secondary) and devising a suitable schedule of analysis, which may involve fieldwork.
  • Effectively utilise data and other evidence adopting correct statistical or qualitative practices.
  • Produce and structure a research report in the approved format.
  • Understand what makes for a good research proposal and report.


- Finding and managing literature - Producing a literature review - Academic Integrity - Ethics applications - Risk assessments - What is qualitative research? - Qualitative methods - Ethnographical research - Qualitative field work - Why use quantitative research? - Quantitative data: understanding and analysis - Quantitative data: presentation - Data-base quantitative report - Guest lectures – demonstration of methods in action - Research proposals

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module uses applied and participatory learning approaches, within and beyond the classroom, to explore and instruct in data collection and research methods for sustainability. Sessions are designed to inform, inspire and give an opportunity for students to apply what they have learnt through problem-based qualitative field work and quantitative practical sessions. For seminar sessions, students are provided with material to review in advance for staff-led group discussion, to further their understanding. Field work and quantitative statistical practical sessions are used to give hands-on application of the methods and best practice which students have been taught and lead into the assessments for the module.

Independent Study110
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Vaccaro, I., Smith, E.A, Aswani, S. (2010). Environmental Social Sciences Methods and Research Design. 

R. Kumar (2005). Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners. 


Assessment Strategy

• Student needs to gain an average pass mark of 50% to successfully complete this module


MethodPercentage contribution
Report 25%
Report 25%
Research proposal 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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