Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Research Design and Methods (Nankai) DUMF5140

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Summer
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course outlines the core concepts of the research process in Environmental Sciences, covering research design, comparative methods, quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, strategies for data collection and interpretation (including data management), and the conventions of structure and content in environmental publications and reports. In developing an overview of the research process, this course aims to provide students with a framework into which subject specific techniques learned throughout the wider degree programme may be placed. The course will also cover key preparatory aspects of the dissertation project, building the skills required to systematically review and evaluate existing literature, identify gaps in existing fields, and develop appropriate research questions.


Ten two-hour sessions

Requirements of Entry

Only open to students enrolled on Nankai Joint Graduate School programmes.

Excluded Courses





A written Research Proposal of 1,500-2,000 words (35%), summarising the student's proposed dissertation topic. An Impact Statement of 600-800 words (30%), highlighting the variety of stakeholders and impacts associated from the student's proposed dissertation project. 

A mini meta-analysis a group report of between 1,500-2,500 words (final wordcount to depend on group size, but each student is expected to contribute roughly 500-700 words), summarising a literature review and meta-analysis on a given topic. For this, the students will be asked to devise key words/search terms, decide on sorting and exclusion processes, and summarise results (35%)

Course Aims

The overall aims of the course are to:

■ Introduce students to the core concepts of research design and provide an opportunity to apply these concepts in preparing for a research proposal;

■ Highlight the importance of ethical standards in environmental research and introduce processes for compliance to said standards;

■ Provide students with the necessary tools and approaches to analyse environmental problems;

■ Enable students to think critically about environmental issues they are addressing and develop solutions to mitigate these problems;

■ Strengthen students' skills in systematic literature review (key word choice, information sorting, interrogation of the literature and critical analysis).

■ Develop key collaborative research skills (including task apportionment, group management, writing joint reports) through undertaking a group project in the context of an environmental problem; 

■ Provide students with the necessary skills in and knowledge of research methods to develop their independent research and dissertations.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Evaluate and apply rigorous design options when developing a research project;

■ Select and justify appropriate techniques for empirical analysis;   

■ Identify the merits and limitations of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches; 

■ Assess critically methodological standards, trends and biases; 

■ Articulate appropriate ethical considerations and standards in independent research

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.