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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

FOEV5002M Research and Skills for Urban Sustainability

30 creditsClass Size: 35

Module manager: Caroline Mullen

Taught: 1 Nov to 31 Dec View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This second module on the University of Leeds MSc Sustainable Cities provides students with a rigorous grounding in epistemology and research methods that teach the skills needed for change-focused research in urban sustainability. The module is structured around the action research cycle: plan, act, observe/do, evaluate/reflect. Teaching combines lectures, seminars, showcases, and a selection of intensive methods ‘boot-camps’ under the guidance and support of Faculty of Environment academic research expertise; these culminate with reflection and evaluation of acquired skills and methods.


This module equips students with understanding of data sources, research methods, good research practice and understanding of the epistemological basis of different research methods, assessment tools and types of data. This will provide students with the knowledge and analytical skills needed to critically engage with debates and practice on developing sustainable cities.

Learning outcomes
The programme level outcomes this module fulfills are:
• Acquire new qualitative, quantitative and digital skills in researching and analysing key urban systems from an action research perspective.
• Diagnose and solve real world urban problems using new data analysis and action research techniques.
• Understand the social, environmental and economic impacts of key urban systems and how they are evaluated.

By the end of the module students will be able to:
• Demonstrate critical understanding of theories of knowledge and their relation to research methods;
• Demonstrate awareness of the diversity of methods suited to addressing urban sustainability issues;
• Exhibit competence in comprehensive conception and design of research projects;
• Exhibit in-depth and practical understanding of specific research methods relevant for developing sustainable city systems;
• Demonstrate awareness of data sources, research ethics, and data protection relevant to urban sustainability issues;
• Take a proactive and self-reflective role in working and to develop professional relationships with others.


Building blocks of postgraduate level research: epistemology; politics and knowledge; ethics; qualitative and quantitative methods; digital skills, assessment methods (such as CBA); capabilities (visioning; governance and leadership; delivery; outcomes and accountability).
Further work reflecting the systems modules, methods traditionally used in that sector and the role that these play in creating the systems.
5 one day ‘boot-camp’ workshops on methods relevant for moving to sustainability in each of the systems - e.g. on co-design; on participatory visioning - the methods would be agreed with the leads of the system modules and project module.
Reflection and evaluation, and individual presentations will be used alongside longer form critical essays on method.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment14.004.00
Private study hours244.00
Total Contact hours56.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Days 13-14 will be private study and preparation for the presentation. Weeks 10-C4 will be private study and writing the 4000 word essay; during this time students will be able to meet module staff at pop in sessions.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be given formative feedback on the development of their presentation and again on the presentation and supporting materials. The latter will support them in writing the 4000 word assessment. Feedback on the 3000 word critical essay undertaken in module 1 will also be delivered during this module period.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 word essay60.00
PresentationIndividual presentation and supporting materials40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Essay due C4 (beginning of exam period/end of semester 1) If student fails to submit any work or does not achieve required average mark the re-sit format will take the form of the 4000 word essay as for the first sit, and a 3000 word essay on action research design and good practice.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/08/2023 15:41:24


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