Co-requisites: Roots of Transformation (Autumn) and Understanding the Contemporary (Spring)
This module is not available to short term/exchange students.
OverviewOne of the impediments to communication between different academic disciplines is their use of different ways of making, and validating, arguments and proofs. A key element of the programme in Liberal Arts is to develop a genuine inter-disciplinary approach so that students can understand, appreciate and assimilate the findings from diverse academic approaches. This module examines the varying modes of developing scientific, social scientific and humanities discourses to facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding of qualitative and quantitative reasoning. Following an introduction to Modes of Thought, engaging students with concepts of rationality as elaborated in logic and analytical reasoning, it will familiarise students in lectures and readings with quantitative and qualitative methodologies as well as with associated processes of data presentation, validation and conclusion reaching. Seminars will serve both to discuss and assess approaches and to familiarise students with working with techniques of data analysis and representation (quantitatively through statistical methods and software packages such as Excel and SPSS and qualitatively through sessions engaging grounded theory, narratology, actor network theory and image studies). Insofar as an element at the core of reasoning is representation per se, the issue of cognition and its unconscious shaping by both social and psychological forces will be addressed.
Themes introduced here not only intertwine with teaching and practical exercises in the two concurrent first year core modules (for instance the training in research design, statistical methods, and data analysis carried out here will be drawn upon in Understanding the Contemporaries' study of social and historical changes in local communities) but also recur throughout the rest of the programme. The cross-disciplinary debates and communications opened in this module will be revisited, and nuanced, over the following three years.
The module Modes of Reasoning is rich in transferable skills training, helping students to develop numeric and analytical skills, engaging them in the formulation and design of research questions and hypotheses, and familiarising them with select software packages.
This module appears in:
Lectures: 24 hours, Seminars: 48 hours
The module contributes:
BA in Liberal Arts (Honours)
Method of assessment
100% Coursework (one 2000 word essay (25%), seminar performance (10%), the development of a mixed methods study design of approximately 1000 words in response to a self-developed research question (15%), reading diary (10%), mixed methods research thesis of approx 3500 words (40%))
There is no set text for this module. It will feature a case study driven approach to introduce students to original research literature at an early stage. This is an intentional strategy to place students at the heart of the creation of knowledge. As such, original journal articles will be selected from existing library journal provision and will provide the focus for bi-weekly discussions. Where necessary, students will be directed towards on-line learning support for specific issues relating to statistical evaluation. Research design will be addressed by, among other texts and case studies, John Creswell and Vicki Prices Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research (Sage, 2010).
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key academics studies within the sciences, humanities and social sciences, how they were implemented, and their impact on broader society
- Understand how to develop and test hypotheses using study design approaches appropriate to the discipline
- Understand the utility and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data
- Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate primary and secondary literature appropriate to the discipline
- Demonstrate an ability to formulate and intellectually respond to the problems and challenges shaping contemporary culture and society.
- Formulate research questions, organise a research project in response to those questions and produce a well-written research thesis integrating qualitative and quantitative data in answering the questions.