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Unit information: Global Bristol in 2020/21

Unit name Global Bristol
Unit code SPAI10008
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Hussein
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit builds on the academic capacities developed in ‘An Introduction to Study in the Social Sciences’, developing these further through group and individual work aimed at uncovering the global in the local lived experiences of students. The unit will introduce an additional level of empirical breadth and historical engagement, while allowing students to situate their intellectual development in their own lived experience, and those of communities beyond the University. There will be opportunities for students to discuss the utility of the social science skillset in linking these levels of analysis, and the value of this in subsequent academic and professional life. The unit aims to facilitate students’ development as self-directed learners, while providing them with a range of key qualitative and quantitative research skills relevant to study across the social sciences. These skills would normally include:research-related skills such as identifying a topic for research, developing research questions; research design-related skills such as selecting an appropriate methodology; practical skills related to gathering data, managing time; teamwork-related skills such as developing a work plan and distributing a workload, analytical skills relating to evaluation of data, writing-up and making an argument.

Students will be asked to collaborate with others in identifying a suitable subject for a group research project, and will have opportunities to reflect on their progress in executing this work in seminars; the unit is thus intended to help students to gain an understanding of the importance that is placed on participation and mutual responsibility for learning at degree level.

The unit will also include sessions introducing participants to key debates in the theory of social science, and developing their facility for critical, reflexive thinking. Topics may vary from year to year but are likely to include sessions on the objectives of academic enquiry, why theorising social science matters, the relationship between power and knowledge, debates relating to the possibility of objectivity and neutrality, and via consideration of the global in the local, core debates concerning universality and specificity.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate the ability to work effectively as part of a group;
  2. take responsibility for an individual area of work;
  3. demonstrate a range of intellectual and practical skills (e.g. in identifying research questions, selecting a methodology, gathering and processing and interpreting information and data, reading critically, developing work-plans, constructing arguments) integral to academic enquiry in the social sciences;
  4. articulate an awareness of the connections between the local and the global, and of why different ways of theorising about such connections matters – by extension, why social science is important beyond the academy;
  5. demonstrate an awareness of how the skills developed on the course might be useful in subsequent study or work;
  6. articulate how their skills in research have developed across the course.

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

1 x Poster Presentation (75%) [ILOs 1-3]

1 x 500-word Learning account (25%) [ILO 4]

Students will complete two summative pieces of assessment, demonstrating their engagement with a collaborative research project running throughout the term, and reflecting on what they have learnt. This will involve development of individual posters and presentation of the poster in the poster exhibition and a brief 500 word account of their learning experience from research work.

These tasks are intended to help students to develop and demonstrate their skills in team-work alongside other skills like identifying research questions, selecting a methodology, gathering and processing and interpreting information and data, reading critically, developing work-plans, constructing arguments, presenting research information visually in a poster etc. The assessments are designed to enable students to demonstrate their awareness of the way in which global relations are constitutive of and constituted by local social relations by carrying out their own research and presenting the findings visually through a poster.

Reading and References

Elbow, Peter, (1981) Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Blaxter, Loraine, (2010) How to Research, London, Open University Press

Jones, Pip (2007) Satan’s Kingdom: Bristol and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Past & Present, Oxford

Dresser, M (2016) Women and the City: Bristol 1373 – 2000, Redcliffe Press, Bristol