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Unit information: Researching Education in the City in 2020/21

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Unit name Researching Education in the City
Unit code EDUC20003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Keri Facer
Open unit status Not open

Researching Educational Questions or Introduction to Psychology in Education



School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit introduces students to ways of planning and conducting a small-scale research study. Practical exercises will help students investigate the diversity of education in the city environment and reflect on how that diversity can best be captured and understood using different research tools. In analysing their data, students will consider how city spaces shape education possibilities and identities and report on the diversity of learning experiences that characterise learning in the city.

By undertaking real world research, exploring questions about learning and education in the city, students will develop a critical appreciation of what is involved in the design and conduct of a small-scale research study. From comparing their experience of using a range of research methods students will be able to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of different research approaches and evaluate how they can best be used to answer different kinds of research questions.

The aims for this unit are to:

  • introduce students to a range of methodologies and research methods that can be used to explore the diversity of educational experiences in the city;
  • provide students with an opportunity to apply these research methods in learning about and exploring learning in the city;
  • enable students to recognise the range of ethical issues that are involved in real world research and how to uphold ethical standards in practice;
  • enable students to critically reflect on their experience as researchers, taking into account the difference between a research plan and its execution;
  • enable students to compare findings, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches they have adopted.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this course unit students will be able to:

  1. plan and carry out a range of research activities, reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches adopted;
  2. know how to take ethical considerations into account at each stage of planning and conducting empirical research and when making findings public;
  3. present findings from a small-scale research project to an audience, linking activities to key research questions;
  4. reflect on what they have learnt about education in the city and how and why their findings might matter in the education field.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, reading and discussions.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment

ILO 3&4: A group poster presentation on planning of an empirical project in the city

Summative assessment ILO 1-4: A 2000-word report on the research planned and a reflection on learning, including an assessment of the methods chosen and a reflection on their own learning as they planned the research project (100%).

Reading and References

Bell, J. with Waters, S. (2014) (6th Edition) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First Time Researchers. Berkshire: McGraw Hill.

Bartlett, S., & Burton, D., (2009) Key Issues for Education Researchers. London: Sage.

Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods (4th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gilbert, N. & Stoneman, P. (Eds.) (2015) Researching Social Life. London: Sage.

Lupton, R. (2006) How Does Place Affect Education? London: IPPR.

Platt L., (2011), Understanding Inequalities: Stratification and Difference, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Massey, D. (1998) The Spatial Construction of Youth Cultures. In Skelton, T & Valentine, G. (Eds.) Cool places: Geographies of Youth Culture. London: Routledge.

Wellington, J. (2015) Educational Research: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches (Second Edition) London: Bloomsbury Academic.