Diploma in Academic Research and Methods (DARM)
Full-time 8 months
The Diploma in Academic Research and Methods is a postgraduate diploma course at pre-Master’s level, offered to those students who do not meet UCL Qatar MA and MSc programmes’ direct entry requirements. In addition, the Diploma facilitates the transition from a variety of educational backgrounds to the taught research-oriented graduate studies offered by UCL Qatar and other leading institutions.
Preparation for MA/MSc level study
UCL Qatar MA and MSc degrees are taught programmes which require a high level of pro-active learning and learning autonomy, the ability and willingness to process and utilise large amounts of academic literature, and the ability to think abstractly and conceptually. This means students need very strong academic skills, including the ability to organise ideas and notes, to structure their thoughts in writing and in oral presentations, and to research and integrate sources to support a personal, coherent argument. Finally, students need to be able to contextualise an issue or debate, engage with theory and apply it to specific case studies. These are precisely the areas the Diploma will prioritise.
The Diploma is intended to prepare students thoroughly for the academic studies and research skills required at postgraduate level at UCL. Students will improve their academic English and study skills. Specifically, the Diploma will develop students’ ability to write argumentative essays, take and use notes from a Master's level lecture, prepare for and participate in seminars, give academic presentations, and carry out independent research. This includes knowing how to analyse and evaluate sources that are referenced in their research.
In addition, students will be encouraged to adopt good academic habits and practice: to critically read academic texts and evaluate the different perspectives expressed in those texts; to write extensively and understand the basic structures and styles of argumentation; and to be aware of the rules and expectations at postgraduate level while engaging actively with their fields.
Main focal points of the Diploma
The three main focal points of the course are:
- Academic literacies and criticality: Analysing concepts, assessing and interpreting evidence, examining connections between ideas, asking critical questions, forming opinions and developing arguments. Exploring general theories in social science research.
- Research and learning autonomy: Developing independent research skills through in-depth study of discipline issues related to the students’ future areas of study. Introducing research methods and methodologies. Encouraging self-study, self-reflexion and pro-active learning.
- Subject knowledge: Providing an introduction to the subjects that students will study and research in their future Masters’ programmes. Encouraging interdisciplinary thinking and knowledge.
Programme learning objectives and outcomes
The Diploma focuses on academic English and develops students' research skills and ability to engage with, and contribute to a research/academic field. In particular:
- Introduction to, and engagement with, key concepts and current academic debates and issues relevant to their fields.
- Critical reading of academic texts and evaluation of the different perspectives expressed in those texts.
- Analysis and evaluation. Use of resources.
- Argumentation: definitional, causal, evaluative, proposal and comparative.
- Independent and pro-active research.
The course runs over two semesters from September to April with 15-20 hours per week of teaching (lecture, seminars, workshops and individual tutorials). In addition, students are expected to engage in a minimum of 20 hours of self study each week.
Lectures are given by UCL Qatar faculty members and guest speakers. These lectures introduce students to key concepts in the fields of Museum Studies, Conservation, Archaeology, and Library Studies. They provide students the opportunity to develop a broader academic culture while practicing their listening and note-taking skills. These lectures also provide students with further exposure to academic arguments and the importance of different perspectives in the fields.
The lecture series is supported by seminars: before the lecture, students are introduced to key concepts and literature that help prepare for the lecture. They also develop different strategies for effective note-taking. Post-lecture seminars help students review their notes, identify questions and deepen their understanding of the themes and thesis of the lecture. These also encourage students to reflect further on the theme and concepts of the lecture and the issues and debates they raise.
In seminars, students learn to review relevant literature by summarising, analysing, critiquing, and synthesising ideas. They evaluate the arguments made by different academics to familiarise themselves with the wider concepts of theory and methodology associated to their fields. This helps students better understand important current academic debates relevant to their fields.
Students also learn to form their own academic voices and arguments. They are introduced to different types of argumentation relevant to Masters’ dissertations (e.g. definitional, causal, evaluative, and comparative). Students learn to structure and maintain coherence in their writing while supporting their own arguments. This involves research, evaluation and integration of sources.
Students attend individual tutorials on a weekly basis. In these tutorials, students and their tutors work together to develop learner autonomy and time management strategies to aid the students in their postgraduate studies (e.g. ability to conduct independent research).
PROGRESSION TO MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMMES
In order to be considered for admission to one of UCL Qatar’s MA/MSc programmes following the completion of the Diploma, the following conditions should be met:
- Minimum weighted arithmetic mean of 65% for the postgraduate diploma
- All course work submitted
- Minimum 70% attendance
- 65% minimum in the Research 2 module
Completing the Diploma does not guarantee progression to UCL Qatar Master’s programmes, however students on the Diploma will be offered advice and support by UCL Qatar's Admissions team in order to assist them in submitting competitive applications to the Master's programmes.
Candidates should hold a Bachelor’s degree normally with a final GPA of 2.7 out of 4.0 or equivalent. Candidates must also pass a recognised English language examination at the requirement level, for example IELTS (6.0 overall including 6.0 in Writing and Reading).
Additionally, candidates enrolling on the Diploma programme, particularly mature candidates, are expected to possess computer literacy skills including word processing, email and basic internet usage skills.