ENVS3017 Urban Lab III: Planning Research
Module coordinator: Dr. Jung Won SONN
Course units: 0.5
Timetable: Term 1 Friday 15.00 – 18.00
Teaching & Learning Methods
Lectures, tutorials and one-to-one contact
Aims & Outcomes
To introduce students to the research processes used in urban studies and urban planning, to the
methods of data collection and to the writing of research reports. The course builds on Urban Lab
I and II, which introduced the student to a range of tools and methods. The earlier modules
focused broadly on the analysis of secondary data, whilst this course will deal with the entire
research process in which analysis of secondary data is only a part. The immediate objective is to
equip students with the knowledge and skills required to undertake the BSc III’s ‘research-based’
Upon completion of this course, students will have gained:
o An appreciation of the research processes and methods of data collection
o An appreciation of how to structure and research a report or a dissertation
o Practical experience in conducting a piece of independent research
o An ability of undertake future research in a professional context
4 2-hour lectures, 6 small group seminars and individual tutorials
Coursework: 100% Written examination: 0%
Description of Assessment(s):
Submission date to be confirmed. Feedback can be expected within 4 weeks.
Indicative Reading Material
1. Blaikie, Norman (1993) Approaches to Social Enquiry. Cambridge: Polity Press.
2. Silverman, David (2004) Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. London:
Lecture 1: The structure of a dissertation
The first lecture deals with the typical structure of a dissertation and how it is different from other
kinds of writings, such as magazine articles or policy reports. The importance of research
questions and research methods is emphasized.
Lecture 2: Different traditions in planning research
The second lecture deals with some philosophical issues of research. What is the purpose of
research? How do we know what we have found is valid? How do we generalize what we have
Lecture 3: Case study, comparative study and generalization
The overwhelming majority of planning research involves case studies and comparative studies.
If making a general argument is the ultimate purpose of research, can a case study or a
comparative study serve this purpose? If so, how do we accomplish that aim?
Lecture 4: How to choose a method?
There are many methods available: statistical analysis, map interpretations, landscape analyses,
interviews, surveys, archives, discourse analyses, etc. This lecture deals with the issue of how to
select a research method from academic and practical perspectives.