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MSc/ Diploma in Social Science Research Methods (Environmental Planning)

Environmental Planning Pathway Information

Research training in Environmental Planning, (including Sustainability and Environment Studies, Transport, Spatial Analysis and Urban and Regional Governance) builds upon the internationally recognised research carried out by academic staff within the School of Planning and Geography (CPLAN).   

CPLAN is a major international centre for research in the areas of planning, human geography and spatial policy. Its mission is to play an internationally leading role in research and academic inquiry associated with the agenda and debates in the development, management and sustainability of cities, regions and rural spaces. It has been consistently rated the top planning school in the UK in terms of its research environment and number of world-leading researchers. It also contains a significant number of world-leading human geographers, and it is our intention to enhance geographical research agendas within the School during the next few years. The School is serviced by the Innovation and Engagement Unit, which organises high profile research and public seminars. The research is organised into four large research groups: Environment, Spatial Analysis, Spatial Planning and City Environments and Urban and Regional Governance. The research activity is very broadly based; it draws upon interdisciplinary social science, particularly the linkages between planning and human geography, and much of it contributes to combinations of academic, policy, practice and professional debates. There is a strong emphasis placed upon engagement of users in research. The School has a number of research centres which contribute to giving a public view of our work. They include the Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACE), the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD), the Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food (SURF) and the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Space (CRESS).

Course Description

The MSc in Social Science Research Methods provides students with the opportunity to acquire generic research skills required by all social science researchers; as well as the subject-specific requirements of the ESRC’s Environmental Planning Subject Area Panel.

For the taught component, students will be required to complete six 20-credit modules (5 core research modules and 1 pathway module). 

In all modules students have the opportunity to engage with literature and research relevant to their Pathway (Environmental Planning).

Environmental Planning ModuleSSRM students on the Environmental Planning Pathway can choose between a range of environment related modules either in the autumn semester (CPT855 Environmental Policy and Climate Change or CPT832 Theories and Principles of Sustainable Development) or the spring semester (CPT826 Environmental Management, CPT878 Planning for Sustainability, CPT863 Environmental Behaviours: Citizens, Consumers and Communities or CPT864 Local Food and Sustainable Development).
Foundations in Social ResearchAutumn term: The module introduces philosophical/theoretical concepts alongside practical issues of research method choice and design. 
Qualitative Research MethodsAutumn & Spring: This main aim of the module is to provide knowledge, training and practice in the collection, analysis and representation of qualitative data.
Quantitative Research MethodsAutumn & Spring: This module introduces students to the systematic collection and analysis of quantitative data, including a broad range of commonly used statistical techniques.
Research ApplicationsSpring term: This module critically explores the various applications of research to different settings. Students tailor their learning by selecting from a menu of options.
Core Competencies for Postgraduate Social ScientistsAutumn & Spring: This module introduces students to essential postgraduate social science survival skills. The module ends with an end-of-year Student Conference.

On successful completion of the taught component, students prepare a dissertation (of a maximum 20,000 words) to be submitted by mid-September. The 60-credit dissertation component requires independent study. Dissertation topics are chosen by the students in agreement with their supervisors. Recent SSRM Environmental Planning thesis titles include:

  • Attempts to include aviation into the European Union Emissions Trading System and the political processes behind them
  • The actants of ecological modernisation: analysing the processes that bring music to market
  • Exploring the socio-spatial assemblage of the Monaco Grand Prix – a more-than-land perspective
  • Fostering productive relationships between cities and their rural hinterlands: the role or urban food policy makers
  • Neighbourhood Planning: what it can tell us about rights-based approaches'
  • Researching social justice within the Manchester Food strategy

For Further information please contact Dr Mara Miele: MieleM@cardiff.ac.uk

Student Testimonial
  • Environmental quote