Course 1: Fundamental elements of reflective professional development and developing the individual skills for Research Approaches (mandatory)

Modules Aim

  • Course 1 is designed to present you with ways of understanding and approaching all kinds of research.
  • Supports you to become a successful researcher.
  • Provides you with key understandings and questions that you need to explore in order to make progress.
  • Presents some of the choices available to you as you think and design research.
  • Sensitises you to the flexibility in thinking that is required when undertaking contemporary research projects


What is a research thesis?

Providing an overview:

  • What is a research work and why to write one?
  • Basic standard structure of a research work.
  • How to develop a research concept and research questions for a complex research problem.
  • Importance of clear questions.
  • How to review and evaluate research papers.
  • Balancing research scope.
  • Critical thinking.

Research philosophies and approaches

  • The nature of being or nature (ontology).
  • The nature of what exists and how knowledge is gained (epistemology).
  • Rationalism v empiricism.
  • Methodology and axiology.
  • Languages.
  • How do you view knowledge?
  • What are you looking for?
  • What do you expect to find?
  • How do you think you will find and justify this knowledge?

Ontology and creative practice

Covered above, therefore not needed 

Generating aims and objectives

  • Creating a title, and aim(s).
  • How to write research questions and objectives.

Research ethics

  • What is ethical research and why is ethics important?
  • Privacy (GDPR / DSGVO).
  • Consent and Transparency.

Theorising and conceptualising

  • What is a paradigm, positivism, interpretivist and mixed methods?
  • The crafting of theorises (inductive, deductive and abductive) and conceptualisation.

Writing for research

  • Suggested structures.
  • Academic reading and writing advice.
  • Formatting.
  • Key elements.
  • Clear and plain language.
  • Other conventions.
  • Literature.
  • Don’ts.

Indicative Module Content

This module introduces the concept of a research thesis, covering its definition, purpose, and key components. It emphasizes the importance of a clear focus, a balanced perspective, and staying up- to-date with current knowledge. The course journeys through the adventure of research, exploring the role of language, the debate between rationalism and empiricism, and various philosophical perspectives including constructivism and critical theory.

Students will delve into mixed-methods research, setting research objectives, and anticipating discoveries. The module also covers epistemology, exploring different approaches to knowledge acquisition and validation, and ontology, the study of the nature of existence.

Ethical considerations are central to this course, addressing informed consent, research integrity, privacy, data management, conflicts of interest, ethical review processes, and honest reporting. Students will learn about bias, theory formulation, concept definition, hypothesis development, and critical thinking.

The course guides students in constructing frameworks or models, highlighting the iterative process of research and its contribution to knowledge. Planning, literature review, data collection and analysis, and academic writing are covered in depth, along with feedback, revisions, editing, and proofreading.

Referencing, citation management, ethical compliance, time management, and finalization are also key components.

Finally, the module focuses on generating aims and objectives for research, providing a roadmap with tasks, milestones, and deliverables, and offering insights into core concepts.

Summary of Course 1

Fundamental elements of reflective professional development and developing the individual skills for Research Approaches

This foundational module trains the researchers to get an overview and a critical analysis of various research paradigms and methodologies, including the essentials of research dissertations and theses. It focuses to the importance of clear research questions, the role of language, rationalism vs empiricism, and philosophical perspectives such as constructivism and mixed methods research. The module also deep dive into epistemology, ethics in research, and balancing research scope with degree requirements, preparing students for the Project Approval milestone with a focus on academic writing and critical thinking.


Course 1 Assessment

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You will write an essay for the exam. You can choose from these options:


Write an essay of approximately 5,000 words which sets out your research gab, research questions and your research aims and contextualises them in relation to key paradigms and theoretical perspectives employed within the area of your study.


Write a approximately 5,000 word essay portraying a particular body of theory you intend to use in your research and explain how that theory is going to aid you in engaging analytically with your research.


Compare and contrast two different approaches to or philosophical positions on research. Write a approximately 5,000 word essay that identifies both positive and negative aspects of these approaches/positions and debates their usefulness for your own proposed research.

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michael lister

Prof. Dr. Michael Lister


Prof. Dr. Jürgen Polke