MLM11-Introduction to Research Skills and Methodology

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 30 [15 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Daniela La Penna


Summary module description:

This module, normally taken by all students (FT and PT) in their first term, provides a basic introduction to research skills and methodology. Students will be made aware of resources relevant to their own area of research, develop an understanding of the nature of work expected at graduate level and learn how to present their work in a scholarly manner.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module the student will be able to:

• Critically evaluate research methodologies and techniques and their application, especially with respect to the use of a wide range of primary (textual, visual, archival) sources
• Work independently on a well-defined set of sources and critical literature
• Examine critically the value and relevance of the chosen primary sources and critical literature
• Place the primary (textual, visual, archival) sources used in this module within the wider historical, cultural, and historiographical contexts
• Identify the appropriate bibliographical resources
• Employ a wide range of primary and secondary information to inform a coherent piece of written work
• Research a project in a scholarly fashion;
• Present the results of their research according to scholarly conventions;
• Use bibliographical and other skills in their research;
• Apply these techniques to their chosen modules
• Demonstrate a knowledge of the current debates in methodology; critical theory; research design in Modern Languages

In addition to the above, students will:
1) be able to formulate research questions and recognise relevant problems and complexities.
2) be able to examine and question their own assumptions, arguments and choices of critical languages.
3) be able to analyse arguments made by others in terms of their assumptions and claims, including those of their tutor.
4) be able to read any text - fictional, critical, or non-fictional - closely and be able to analyse its precise use of language.
5) be able to think out loud and engage in peer-group discussion and debate.

Additional outcomes:
In addition to the above, students will:
• learn to absorb and assess a large range of often complex texts through independent reading;
• become adept at manipulating abstract issues at an advanced [postgraduate] level;
• engage in high-level peer-group debate and learn from students of diverse academic background;
• become both comparative and selective in the use of a wide range of textual material.

Outline content:
This is a team-taught interactive and student-led module

Part of this module is developed in partnership with the Museum of Rural Life (MERL) and Special Collections at the University of Reading. It provides students with hands-on training on primary sources from the Middle Ages onwards. Students will work in the Special Collections Reading Room at MERL. They will first receive three induction sessions from the MRes Director and the relevant language-specific advisor (if applicable) and from MERL members of staff. In the following two sessions, they will work on their own on a set of primary sources in the MERL Reading Room while one member of staff will be of assistance to answer any queries they may have and to give advice. Students will have to prepare a 30-minute presentation by week 10 of the Autumn Term on the primary source they have studied.

The Library sessions will cover:
• gathering specialist information e.g. a detailed bibliography and recording it in a database or other appropriate format
• the use of resources in the University Library, outside resources (e.g., the British Library, the National Archives) and on the Internet;
• where relevant for the student’s area of interest the use of special support (e.g. microfilms, newspaper, etc);
• the presentation of material in a consistent and scholarly manner;
• detailed preparation of research techniques for the chosen modules and the dissertation.

The remainder of the classes will be devoted to the discussion of relevant research methodologies and critical theories relevant to the discipline, period, and national traditions approached for study.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The details of the course are tailored to equip the students with as wide a range as possible of skills relating to material or sources material available for the study of language-specific period studies, including, literature, history, politics, culture and society. Students will be expected to prepare for seminars and training sessions and to carry out practical assignments. There will be visits to specialist libraries and archives repositories. The distribution of teaching hours is indicative only.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 5 5
Practicals classes and workshops 6
Supervised time in studio/workshop 4
Total hours by term 15.00 5.00
Total hours for module 20.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Other information on summative assessment:
The 10 contact hours + 10h practicals in the University Special Collections and University Library can be taught either in one term (Autumn and Spring only) or spread over the two teaching terms.

This module will be examined by one presentation and essay or similar assignment on a topic or topics covered by the module and relevant to research in the area of specialisation in which the degree is taken, with a combined total of between 2,500 - 3,000 words, to be agreed with the module convenor.

Task criteria
1. Evidence of extensive reading and critical interpretation of relevant literature
2. Accurate and logical presentation of material
3. Clear, reasoned, and sustained argument
4. Clarity of organisation and presentation, and appropriate style and referencing

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
A grade of at least 50%.

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of the coursework by 1 September

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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