UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Academic Research: Approaches & Methods

Academic Research: Approaches & Methods is situated as bridging the academic content of the six UPCH optional modules and the improved communication elements of the Academic English module. This is a compulsory UPCH module with 3 hours and 10 minutes* UCL teaching contact hours per week.

It consists of lectures, seminar discussion classes and research methods classes. Class sizes are kept small, with an average of 14 students in each class.

The course will examine approaches to knowledge from a range of perspectives within the humanities and social sciences through a weekly lecture series. You will develop your ability to think critically by considering broadly how knowledge is produced in different fields and through applying theory and approaches across the humanities to particular topics such as London, collective memory, postmodernism and collective identity.

In addition, you will be taught research methods; crucial for undertaking the assessed research projects in Term 2. Through practical research methods classes, you become familiar with academic practice and conventions. In addition, research initiative is developed to help you become independent and confident about presenting information in both oral and written form.

Content and skills

The module aims to equip you with the skills of perception and critical analysis. Thinking critically about how knowledge is constructed in different ways in academia will allow you to learn the values and assumptions that underpin disciplinary (and interdisciplinary) practice and to apply these to your own research. During the seminar that follows each weekly lecture, you will have the opportunity to discuss key concepts introduced in the lecture and accompanying background reading text, considering the wider implications of these and how they relate to previous and following lectures.

Module structure

You will be introduced to the key themes through a weekly lecture. This lecture will be followed up by a seminar class. As well as introducing you to disciplinary epistemology and theories in order to develop critical thinking skills, the lectures provide you with an opportunity to practice your listening and note-taking skills and develop a wider academic vocabulary and phrasing. You will be tested on key concepts studied through end of term tests.

A weekly research methods class will help you with the practical skills needed to undertake a research project. In this class, you will learn how to:

  • use library databases and how to evaluate the reliability, credibility and relevance of material selected
  • select a suitable research topic, narrow the focus and write a thesis statement
  • develop the ability to read academic texts critically
  • apply appropriate academic referencing conventions in order to avoid plagiarism 
  • reflect on individual areas of weakness in order to meet personal goals.

The main focus of the research methods class is preparation for the UPCH extended research projects of 3,000 words. This is supported by mini assessment tasks in Terms 1 and 2 as well as one-to-one tutorials throughout the year.

*This excludes breaks and is calculated using the UCL class 'hour' of 50 minutes.