THEL400 Research Methods Seminar
Teaching organisationThis unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as participation in face-to-face sessions, Adobe Connect sessions and/or online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.
Unit rationale, description and aim
This unit is designed to assist students in developing the advanced writing and research skills required for completing an Honours thesis in theology or philosophy. Students will be guided in developing thesis writing and research skills, including writing a: thesis statement, annotated bibliography, methodology statement, research proposal, scope and limitations statement, expected results/outcome statement, and literature review. Students will also be introduced to the methods of the major disciplines of theology (biblical studies, patristics and church history, systematic theology, moral theology and practical theology), and philosophy. Students will undertake detailed study in the methods of their own discipline area and begin to develop insights and arguments with respect to their thesis. The aim of this unit is to aid students in developing their thesis writing and research skills, culminating in a draft of the first chapter of the thesis.
On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:
LO1 - Formulate a thesis statement and compile an annotated bibliography using the appropriate skills (GA4; GA5);
LO2 - Display the skills required for writing a thesis proposal, including explaining a relevant and appropriate research methodology (GA5; GA5; GA9);
LO3 - Demonstrate principles of clear and precise thesis writing by preparing a draft first chapter of their thesis, including a literature review (GA8; GA9; GA10).
GA4 - think critically and reflectively
GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession
GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information
GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media
GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.
Topics will include:
- Choosing an appropriate thesis topic;
- Issues requiring ethics clearance, and how to proceed with an ethics application if necessary;
- The purpose, scope, and role of an Honours thesis, including analysing Honours thesis exemplars;
- Consideration of the range of theological and philosophical disciplines and their specific methodologies;
- The purposes and writing of a thesis statement;
- The purposes and writing of an annotated bibliography;
- Selecting an appropriate research method, and writing the methodology section;
- The structure of an Honours thesis;
- The purposes and writing of a thesis proposal;
- The purposes and writing of a literature review;
- The purposes and writing of the first chapter of the thesis.
Learning and teaching strategy and rationale
This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks.
The total includes formally structured learning activities such as participation in face-to-face sessions, Adobe Connect sessions and/or online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.
The unit is normally offered in attendance or multi-mode via Adobe Connect. Students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes.
THEL400 asks students to develop practical writing and research skills required for undertaking an Honours degree. The emphasis is on guiding students through the process of writing the different components of an Honours thesis in theology and philosophy, such as thesis statements, methodology sections, and literature reviews. Students will be mentored by the lecturer and expected to analyse and evaluate exemplars of Honours theses as well as engage with online modules on different theological and philosophical methods. The focus of this unit is on thesis writing and research methods skills.
Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop essential practical writing and research skills.
Assessment strategy and rationale
In order to pass this unit, students are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve an overall grade of Pass (50% or higher).
The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.
The assessment strategy is intended to allow students to display development of thesis writing and research methods skills appropriate for an Honours thesis. All three assessment tasks are linked together, so that the feedback received from each task also acts as feedforward to help the student prepare for the next task.
Assessment task 1 enables students to display achievement of LO 1 by asking them to compile an annotated bibliography of relevant key resources for their proposed thesis topic and drafting a thesis statement, outlining the argument of their proposed thesis.
Assessment task 2 builds on the work the student undertook for Task 1 and extends it further by asking them to write a proposal involving the following key elements: revised thesis statement, methodology statement which justifies the most relevant method for the proposed topic, outline of expected results/outcomes, scope and limitations of research, outline of thesis structure, and bibliography. It aligns with LO 1 and 2.
Assessment task 3 enables students to bring together and apply the spectrum of learning gathered in the unit by writing a draft of the first chapter of their thesis, involving the following key elements: revised thesis statement, literature review, revised methodology statement, revised expected results/outcomes, revised scope and limitations, revised thesis structure, and bibliography. This task aligns with LO 1, 2, and 3.
Overview of assessments
|Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment Tasks||Weighting||Learning Outcomes||Graduate Attributes|
Thesis statement and annotated bibliography:
Requires students to demonstrate the skills of writing a thesis statement and compiling an annotated bibliography of relevant sources.
Requires students to demonstrate the skills of writing a thesis proposal, including: thesis statement, methodology statement, expected results/outcomes, scope and limitations, thesis structure, and bibliography.
LO 1; LO 2
GA4; GA5; GA9
Draft Chapter One of Thesis:
Requires students to display the skills of writing a draft of the first chapter of their thesis, including: thesis statement, literature review, methodology statement, expected results/outcomes, scope and limitations, thesis structure, and bibliography.
LO 1; LO 2; LO 3
GA 8; GA9; GA10.
Representative texts and references
Allen, Paul L. Theological Method. Guides for the Perplexed. London: T&T Clark, 2012.
Dulles, Avery. The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System. New York: Crossroad, 1995.
Hauerwas, Stanley. The Work of Theology. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 2015.
Jensen, Michael P. and Latimer Trust. How to Write a Theology Essay. London: Latimer Trust, 2012.
O'Collins, Gerald. A Short Guide to Writing a Thesis: What to Do and What Not to Do. Hindmarsh, SA: ATF Press, 2011.
Stone, Howard W. and James O. Duke. How to Think Theologically. Third ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013.
Vyhmeister, Nancy J. and Terry Dwain Robertson. Quality Research Papers for Students of Religion and Theology. Third edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.
Yaghjian, Lucretia B. Writing Theology Well: A Rhetoric for Theological and Biblical Writers. Second ed. New York: Continuum, 2015.