Methods in Spatial and Social Analysis

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alan Mace STC513a, Dr Murray Low STC512 and Mr Philippe Bracke

Dr Romola Sanyal


This course is compulsory on the BA in Geography. This course is available on the BSc in Environment and Development and BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

Introduces students to a range of qualitative and quantitative research approaches and methods used in the construction of contemporary knowledge related to human geography and the environment. The course covers an introduction to philosophy of science and discusses philosophical approaches to research such as Marxism, feminism, and postmodernism. The quantitative component of the course covers approaches to describing data visually and numerically, sampling techniques, the basics of statistical inference, and the principles of structured hypothesis testing. The course uses statistical software to analyse social deprivation data as well as the use of mapping software to represent these data spatially. The qualitative component of the course discusses research design and epistemology, the selection and analysis of case studies as a research method, the collection and analysis of primary data through fieldwork, and methods of interpreting primary and secondary texts. The final module includes a full week of fieldwork day trips to East and South London investigating themes of the impact of industrial restructuring, globalization, regeneration, and social exclusion, during which students are required to apply various methods from the course in their own research.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of classes in the LT.

Compulsory fieldwork: one week, London, week 10 of LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to read and review research that employs a range of qualitative and quantitative methods. There is also an essay (750 words) in MT. Classes in MT serve as direct preparation for statistical methods to be used in the assessed practical exercise.

Indicative reading

A Blunt et al. (Eds), Cultural Geography in Practice, 2003; D Ebdon, Statistics in Geography, 1985; R Flowerdew ; D Martin (Eds), Methods in Human Geography, 1997; I Hay (Ed), Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography, 2010; K Hoggart, L Lees ; A Davies, Researching Human Geography, 2002.

A number of more specialised texts will be recommended.


Exam (40%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Coursework (30%) in the LT.
Coursework (30%) in the ST.

In the examination students answer two questions out of six (40%). The coursework comprises of (i) A practical exercise (30%); (ii) Field work report (30%).

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
First 12.3
2:1 64.4
2:2 21.9
Third 1.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2012/13: 14

Average class size 2012/13: 8

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 89.2%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)