Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Graduates working in geographical, environmental and social sciences need to apply a wide range of tools and approaches to solve the complex problems of our world, and they need the knowledge and skills of project management to initiate, plan, implement and evaluate projects.

In this practical-based unit, students will gain an understanding of key quantitative and qualitative research skills and geographical methods that can be used to address real-world environmental and social problems. The unit is built around project-based work and learning, where students will be introduced to the study of project management and develop skills needed to manage research projects through project life-cycles, from the initial stages of planning, budgeting and applying for funding, through to evaluation. This unit features applied work integrated learning (WIL) whereby students will experience coursework and work-related opportunities that may include interaction and feedback with industry professionals.

The aim of this unit is for students to develop expertise in key research skills and approaches used in geographical, environmental and social sciences including research project management approaches. This unit forms part of the Geography, Environment and Society major, but it is also suitable for students from different backgrounds who wish to gain hands-on experience in learning and applying research and project management skills required in the many industries and sectors today.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe ethical and responsible behavior in research, including guidelines for the ethical conduct of research involving human participants (GA3, GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Apply quantitative and qualitative research skills appropriately (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Explain research outcomes clearly and coherently in a variety of media, using Geographical language correctly (GA9)

LO4 - Analyse a geographical problem, develop an appropriate research question based on this problem (GA3, GA5, GA6)

LO5 - Develop a research project proposal including rationale, logical framework, schedule, budget, and risk management plan (GA3, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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:

The first half of the unit is focused on the following subjects

  • Forming a research question
  • Collecting evidence: Quantitative and Qualitative research methods
  • Different views and scales of geographical research 
  • Field work in geographical. environmental and social research
  • Evidence-based decision-making frameworks and practices
  • Introduction to statistics in geographic and environmental research
  • Ethics and professional practice in Geography
  • Approaches for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in research

In the second half of the unit, learning and skill development will focus on project management for environmental and social science projects, including:

  • Understanding different approaches to project management in geography and the environment
  • Project life cycle, planning and initiation
  • Scheduling and budgeting
  • Research proposals and grant applications
  • Risk management and ethical considerations
  • Project evaluation and monitoring

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will use both face-to-face and/or multimedia forms of instruction during class. The in-class lecture component is used to convey new material and offer students the chance to engage and ask questions in person. The tutorial portion of the course is to be used to gain hands-on experience in key geographical research methods and project management.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. Attendance at tutorials is strongly encouraged to ensure that you learn the appropriate tools and techniques in research and project management. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. The assessment strategy allows students to engage in a variety of tasks, each aligned to their own learning outcomes.

Assessment in this unit is designed to teach and guide students through the process of conducting a research project. The first two assessments are based around the mastery of qualitative and quantitative research approaches, where students will complete a quiz that examines their understanding of key research concepts, and also develop a portfolio of geographical research results that demonstrate proficiency in these approaches. Assessment in the 2nd half of the unit is focused on a six-week project undertaken in tutorials where students design and develop a full project proposal, using knowledge and skill developed through the unit. A passing grade in this third assessment task (which examines LO5) is required to pass the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Understanding research methods: this assessment is a quiz, the purpose of which is to allow students to consider their understanding of key Geographical research methods at an early stage in the unit, with rapid feedback


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Research methods portfolio: The purpose of this assessment task is to allow students to develop a portfolio of work that demonstrates their understanding and application of qualitative and quantitative methods used in geographical, social science, and environmental research


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8

Project proposal: The purpose of this assessment task is to design and develop a full project proposal including rationale, logical framework, schedule, budget, and risk management plan.


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Aubry, M. and Lièvre, P. eds., 2016. Project Management in Extreme Situations: Lessons from Polar Expeditions, Military and Rescue Operations, and Wilderness Exploration. CRC Press.

Burt, J.E., Barber, G.M. and Rigby, D.L., 2009. Elementary statistics for geographers. Guilford Press.

Clifford, N., Cope, M., Gillespie, T. and French, S. eds., 2016. Key methods in geography. Sage.

Couper, P., 2014. A student's introduction to geographical thought: theories, philosophies, methodologies. Sage.

Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. eds., 2005. Methods in human geography: a guide for students doing a research project. Pearson Education.

Gee, J.P., 2014. An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. Routledge.

Kennett, B. 2014. Planning and Managing Scientific Research: A guide for the beginning researcher. ANU Press.

Martin, K.L., 2008. Please knock before you enter: Aboriginal regulation of outsiders and the implications for researchers. Post Pressed, Brisbane.

Phillips, R. and Johns, J., 2012. Fieldwork for human geography. Sage.

Rogers, A., Viles, H.A. and Goudie, A. eds., 2003. The student's companion to geography. Blackwell.

Rogerson, P.A., 2019. Statistical methods for geography: a student’s guide. Sage.

Rose, G., 2016. Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials. sage.

Walford, N., 2011. Practical statistics for geographers and earth scientists. John Wiley & Sons.

Zina, O., 2018. Research Proposals: Little Quick Fix. SAGE

Zina, O., 2018. Research Question: Little Quick Fix. SAGE.

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