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Course content

This course assists you and your supervisor in devising a training programme that meets your own very particular needs; gives you vital information about University processes and procedures; and helps you to understand your research work in its professional and academic context.

Also, this course provides the opportunity for all Mres/MPhil/PhD/Professional Doctoral students to meet and work together for a short period. Research work can sometimes be rather lonely and your discussions and debates are mostly with your own supervisor or immediate team. The opportunity to learn from others with a totally different perspective or even to link up with others dealing with the same agenda as yourself can make a major contribution.

The award is for all students: part time, full time as well as those students who study predominantly at a distance. You and your supervisor will decide the pace at which you will undertake the award. It will be determined by a combination of your own needs and the practicality of the availability of training opportunities.

Course content

Are there any exemptions to the Programme for research students?
Yes. First of all, some programmes here at the University run their own in-house research training that has been designed to earn you an exemption from the PgCert. Second, you might already have considerable research experience, in which case you can apply for an exemption to the University Research Degrees Committee.

Please keep in mind, however, that most research students will have completed some other taught Masters Award (MA, MSc, MBA etc) which has included research methods training. However, the types of skills required of a doctoral-level degree are generally qualitatively distinct from those required at masters level. Thus, simply having a Masters degree is not normally considered sufficient reason for exemption.

However, it is possible that on your masters award you achieved some of the specific outcomes of this award. There is a process within the PgCert (on the ‘learning contract’) for taking this into account, and giving you credit against knowledge and skills that you already possess.

When do I study the Programme?
There are two fundamental regulatory requirements.

First, you must have successfully passed the entire award prior to the formal assessment of your MPhil/PhD/Professional Doctorate. 

Second, you must complete the PgCert within two years of first enrolling on it.

It is strongly recommended that you start the PgCert as early as possible in your PhD studies, since part of its purpose is to give you advice and guidance concerning the early stages of your work. Since the Certificate can help you to get through the RDC1 proposal stage, it is additionally recommended that you begin the Certificate before completing your proposal.

The taught portion of this course is a single day workshop, run twice yearly for your convenience.

In common with the majority of higher education institutions the University has adopted a Credit System, which is based upon an estimate of the total time involved in the study of a module, including all of your own reading and assessment. As a guide, a single credit point approximates to 10 hours of study. This is a rough approximation for the average participant.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods is a 60 credit award, consisting of three modules. First, two 15 credits modules dealing with issues like the regulations and standards of Doctoral work, practical advice concerning working with your supervisors or managing your time, your personal and professional development, and reflection on how your research fits into a broader picture of research in general. Second, a 30 credit ‘negotiated’ module. So, the total extra time you will need to put into the Certificate is relatively modest.

Visit the Research Methods PG Cert page on the Staffordshire University website for more details!





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