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The University of Southampton

RESM6025 Area Studies: Research Techniques and Data Sources

Module Overview

This module deals with the practical challenges of research in area studies. Indicative content includes: the challenges of applying multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches; comparative methods; language and discourse analysis; the question of sources in area studies; collecting original data; preparing for and undertaking area studies fieldwork.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognise the value of multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches in area studies research
  • Make informed choices about methods and sources in area studies
  • Prepare yourself appropriately for undertaking fieldwork in area studies.


Research methods and techniques for Area Studies: • The challenges of applying multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches in practice. • Comparative methods – comparative vs transnational perspectives. Functional, rationalist and interpretive approaches: the importance of contextual knowledge [context-rich approach] and cultural competence, in order to avoid focusing solely on outputs without understanding the complexity underpinning decision-making processes. • Language and issues in multi-/inter-disciplinary and transnational research, and how to overcome them. • Discourse analysis: choosing texts; recognising context and evaluating significance; close textual analysis. Data Sources for Area Studies: The question of sources in area studies. Which sources? Collecting original data. Oral history. Archives and their uses. Surveys. Fieldwork: Preparing for and undertaking area studies fieldwork – security in fieldwork, importance of cultural competence, undertaking interviews, using translators and interpreters in fieldwork, language training, archival work overseas, field research in anthropology.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• Lectures • Workshops • Independent study

Completion of assessment task20
Preparation for scheduled sessions22
Wider reading or practice36
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Warleigh-Lack, Alex; Cini, Michelle (2009). Interdisciplinarity and the study of politics. European Political Science. ,8 , pp. 4-15.

Pedersen, Thomas (2009). Strategies for theoretical innovation: The importance of area-studies and interdisciplinary thinking.. Proceedings of the Institute for European Studies at International University Audentes. ,5 , pp. 14-32.

Engerman, David C. (2015). The Pedagogical Purposes of Interdisciplinary Social Science: A View from Area Studies in the United States. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. ,51 , pp. 78-92.

Andersen, Hanne (2016). Collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and the epistemology of contemporary science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. ,56 , pp. 1-10.



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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