Designing Critical Enquiry (914N1)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

This is a core module for students enrolled in the MA in Participation, Power and Social Change and is oriented towards supporting the design of your Critical Inquiry into Practice. It is also open to other MA students who wish to design a dissertation inquiry and to first year PhD students at IDS who will be using primary research in a constructivist, action research or action learning paradigm. 

In this module, you explore basic principles of action research, action learning and constructivist research design, strategy and method.

You examine contrasting research paradigms and epistemologies, and interrogate questions of validity.

You consider how to formulate research questions and researchable problems and address issues of positionality and ethics in research processes, relationships, communications and outputs. 

In terms of practice, the module will provide examples and opportunities to try out, critique and choose methods and tools useful for action research, action learning and constructivist research. You consider the components of a research plan, from identifying research problem to analysis, synthesis and communication. 

You gain practical experience during the module by working in groups to design, implement and communicate the results of a piece of action research, action learning or constructivist research. 


100%: Seminar (Class)


100%: Coursework (Presentation, Report)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 48 hours of contact time and about 252 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.