GY452      Half Unit
Urban Research Methods

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Hyun Shin S601F

Additional teacher(s): Professor Sylvia Chant; Professor Gareth Jones; Dr Neil Lee; Professor Claire Mercer; Dr Romola Sanyal; Dr Austin Zeiderman, Dr Mara Nogueira


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is available on the MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) for those students who choose the MSc in Urbanisation and Development track for their Year 2 studies.

Course content

The course aims to introduce students to the key methods that are frequently mobilised to carry out research on urbanising societies around the world. Additionally, the course is to help students think more systematically about methodological considerations in order to execute a successful dissertation research. Below is a list of themes to be covered in the course:

  • Designing an urban research project and ethics
  • Comparative (case) studies
  • Working with archives
  • Interviews and focus groups
  • Conducting ethnography
  • Quantitative data and questionnaires
  • Analysis and write-up


12 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the LT. 6 hours of workshops in the ST.

Workshops are for students to present their research proposals. Seminars normally involve individual and/or small group activities, some of which are carried out in advance in preparation for seminars.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Flyvbjerg, B. (2001) Making social science matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hay, I. (ed.) (2010) Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Heimer, M. and Thogersen, S. (eds.) (2006) Doing fieldwork in China. Copenhagen: NIAS Press

Hennink, M. et al (2011) Qualitative Research Methods. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Sayer, A. (1992) Method in social science: A realist approach. London: Routledge

Ward, K. (ed.) (2012) Researching the city: a guide for students. London: Sage


Essay (60%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) and research proposal (20%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 41.5
Merit 45.3
Pass 13.2
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2018/19: 22

Average class size 2018/19: 24

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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