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PAST212 Research Methods

Analysis of a variety of social research methods to be used in theological research and research relating to the practice of ministry.

"Research shows..." You meet this phrase everywhere, but can you tell the difference between sound research and shonky research? This paper offers you some tools for doing that and for doing quality research yourself when you tackle a dissertation such as a Master of Ministry. Particularly when you are doing research that involves people, the issues are complex, and the information gathered needs to be handled with care. Questionnaires, interviews and observation all require skill to get reliable results. This paper will provide you with those skills.

Paper title Research Methods
Paper code PAST212
Subject Pastoral Studies
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2017
Domestic Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for 2017 have not yet been set
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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PASX 212
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
Course outline
Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an examination of the scriptures, history, content and relevance of the Christian faith, but it presupposes or requires no Christian commitment from students. All it requires is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Tim Cooper
Lecturer: Dr Ken Booth
Paper Structure
This paper is divided into weekly components:
  • Week 1 - What is research? Getting started
  • Week 2 - Basic methods in research
  • Week 3 - Reading for research
  • Week 4 - Managing your research
  • Week 5 - Ethical and cultural issues
  • Week 6 - Documents
  • Week 7 - Interviews
  • Week 8 - Observation and diaries
  • Week 9 - Questionnaires
  • Week 10 - Analysing data
  • Week 11 - Writing up your research
  • Week 12 - Final considerations

The assignment work consists of a series of four web-based exercises on a fortnightly basis over the first nine weeks of the paper. These four exercises are done for credit, 10% each, amounting to 40% of the paper in total.

Three other written pieces are submitted: A literature review (1,200 to 1,500 words) 15%; an essay on methods in relation to a research proposal (1,500 to 2,000 words) 20%; and a final essay (2,500 words) - a critique of a formal research proposal 25%.
Teaching Arrangements
As this paper is Internet-based, there are no formal meeting times. The time allotted to the paper is at the student's discretion, governed only by the need to demonstrate an understanding of the material. Full use is made of Blackboard to facilitate class interaction in the first nine weeks. The remainder of the work is covered by work submitted to the lecturer. The lectures consist of a close reading of the textbooks, with assignments arranged to show engagement with the material and the opportunity to practise some of the research techniques.
Gary Thomas, How to do your Research Project: A Guide for Students in Education and Applied Social Sciences, 2nd ed. London: Sage, 2013.

A course book has also been developed for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a wide variety of research methods, both quantitative and qualitative
  • Demonstrate discernment between methods in terms of their appropriateness for investigating different types of questions
  • Demonstrate ability to employ these methods by designing an original research project
  • Demonstrate ability to plan the presentation of research findings
  • Design and defend a detailed proposal for original research in some aspect of the theology or practice of ministry

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Not offered in 2017

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system