Research formation is enabled by helping participants to: identify research focus and questions; evaluate, choose and implement an appropriate methodology, including evaluation of mixed methods; understand and prepare for the gaining ethical clearance; develop a literature review. Theological Reflection will be explored in the context of the Action Research Cycle. Research methodologies particularly relevant to Counselling and Psychotherapy, Practical Theology and Ethnographic Research may include: Action Research, Grounded Theory, Autoethnography, Narrative analysis and Case Study. Specific data collection methods such as interview, surveys and focus groups will be considered. Modified Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) and Software (eg NVivo) resources that assist with research writing, data collection, analysis and referencing will also be evaluated.

Unit code: DP9034S

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Stirling College

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Learning outcomes


Describe and apply the terminology, theoretical foundations, principles and limitations of research methodologies appropriate to their field of practice and context.


Critically review current literature in their research field and evaluate the methodologies used in selected research projects/studies.


Formulate a research project, outlining research questions and the key elements of the research methodology appropriate to their inquiry.


Provide a systematic rationale for their chosen research methodology, illustrating this through the research design and describing the skills required for effective implementation of contextually appropriate methods of data collection.


Describe and illustrate how Theological Reflection (individual and community) can complement the design, implementation, data analysis and practice dimensions and recommendations of a research project.


Critically evaluate the ethical issues relevant to their project and provide a contextualised understanding of Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) requirements.

Unit sequence

This unit introduces students to and supports them in undertaking human research in professional contexts. There is a particular interest in understanding how people make meaning of their lived experience in a given context. The focus is on the development and writing of research projects using qualitative and quantitative (or mixed) methodologies appropriate to the student’s discipline and the culture and sociology of their chosen field or practice. This could be within an academic award pathway or simply within their work/service context.


Before the weekly seminar/workshops participants will engage lectures and video presentations, readings and set activities. Remote learning and blended delivery are embodied in the unit. Workshops will focus on: integrating the theoretical foundations, history and principles that have shaped the practice of human research; the design and practical implementation of chosen research methods; methods of data analysis.

Students are expected to participate in group work. Peer and shared reflective processes will complement lecturer feedback via assessment tasks. The practical challenges, ethical concerns and collaborative dimensions of such research will be explored through case studies and real-life examples. Additional group work: Critical review of actual studies and evaluative assessment of Instruments such as PROMS and software such as NVivo will enable participants to develop competencies and resources relevant to their discipline, context and stage of research formation/activity.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, William Bizup and William FitzGerald. The Craft of Research. 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
  • Bryman, Alan. Social Research Methods. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Cameron, Helen and Catherine Duce. Researching Practice in Ministry and Mission: A Companion. London: SCM Press, 2013.
  • Cameron, Helen and Deborah Bhatti. Talking about God in Practice: Theological Action Research and Practical Theology. London, SCM Press, 2010.
  • Charmaz, Kathy. Constructing Grounded Theory. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications, 2014.
  • Creswell, John. W and Cheryl Poth. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Approaches. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications, 2018.
  • Denzin, Norman K. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications, 2018.
  • McLeod, John. Doing research in counselling and psychotherapy. Sage, UK. 2015.
  • Rossman, Gretchen B. and Sharon Rallis.* Introduction to Qualitative Research: Learning in the Field*. 4th edn. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications, 2017.
  • Sensing, Tim. Qualitative Research: A Multi-Methods Approach to Projects for Doctor of Ministry Theses, Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2011.
  • Swinton, John and Harriet Mowat. Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. 2nd Ed. London: SCM 2016.
  • Yin, Robert. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage, 2014 (6th edn. eBook 2017).


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Project Report or Project Journal

Project Proposal 3500

3500 50.0

‘Research Article’ Critique 2000

2000 25.0
Case Study

Methodological Case Study 2000

2000 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 15 Oct, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000