Research Methods

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Module Details

Module Code: HOPP 5009

Module Credits: 15 credits

Module Leader: Gil Pasternak

Module Tutors: Kelley Wilder, Gil Pasternak, Elizabeth Edwards, Stephen Brown

Module Duration: This module is delivered in a series of workshops, organized throughout the year.

Module Meetings: Meeting places and times in this module will vary according to our needs.

Assignment Due:

Module Contents page

Follow this link to the Research Methods Contents page to get started on the module.

Back to the MA: Photographic History Main Page


Harold White in Lacock Abbey, researching Talbot's Correspondence c.1950.

Research Methods are at the core of what we do, and so this module is taught throughout the programme, to give you time to develop or modify your own research methods as the MA progresses. Although it is a discreet module, in actuality Research Methods will be the focus of our study the whole year of this course. Many of the assignments and activities in other modules require you to employ what you will learn in this module. Your success in dissertation writing is heavily reliant on what you will learn in this module.

You already have a research method, but do you know what it is? Have you thought about the implications for your work given the research method you use? Researchers at all levels are, or should be, always asking themselves questions about their research methods. How do I conduct my research? How do I find the archives I need? What do I do during archive visits? How do I form my research questions? Having a system doesn't necessarily mean that you are conducting research in the most effective way, or answering your research questions appropriately. As we spend more years researching, we evaluate and modify our research methods, sometimes even discarding the old method and using an entirely new one. This module will enable you to build up a portfolio of research methods one or some of which you will use for the Dissertation module at the end of your programme.

There are currently no established Research Methods standards in the field of photohistory. This is partly because in photographic studies, the 'method' has several components: handling the primary material (objects), and developing research questions and strategies for writing about the primary material (methodology). If you learn photohistory in a museum, you would learn very much about handling, object histories, and preservation. If you learn photohistory at a university in a department of art history, your training would emphasize the history of images and the methodologies used to address these images. If you were studying Art and Design, your Research Methods would concentrate on the observation of the process by which things are designed or made, heavily emphasizing artists' working practice. This Research Methods module will combine aspects of all areas, to give you the broadest possible choice in developing your own working method, and applying it to areas of photographic history as you find them.

In addition to delivering the module in a series of workshops and seminars, additional seminars in research skills will be on offer throughout the year. These will be optional, but highly recommended. You may also suggest workshops that would be helpful to you and your fellow students by speaking to the Programme Leader.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Handle a range of historical materials including photographs, manuscripts and objects
  • Use citation of various styles (Chicago Manual of Style, Humanities and Author/Date) in their proper context of web versus print based publications
  • Employ conceptual and practical research methods and techniques suitable to the Masters level
  • Evaluate currently available electronic and museum resources used for photographic history
  • Work with digital images for various professional purposes
  • Write in various styles and reflect on the use and flexibility of varied writing styles

Back to the MA: Photographic History Main Page