Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


DVST100 Introduction to International Development Studies OR DVST101 Humanitarian Work and Aid

Unit rationale, description and aim

Good planning, an ethical approach, and appropriate research techniques are essential for effective development work. This subject introduces students to some of the basic approaches and tools for qualitative development research. In particular, it trains students in qualitative research design, providing them with the tools required in the preparation of project development, evaluation and report writing. The role of gender in development research is explored, as are a variety of tools and positionalities when conducting qualitative research. 

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 - Demonstrate a sound understanding of the relevance of development research (GA5)

LO2 - Understand and reflect upon the usefulness of applied research for development planning and evaluation (GA3, GA4)

LO3 - Assess and evaluate the applicability of various data gathering research techniques (GA4, GA8)

LO4 - Understand and apply the fundamentals of social impact analysis and participatory action research (GA5)

LO5 - Manage and analyse qualitative data and apply a range of project evaluation skills (GA8)

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 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

  • The nature of social research, and its role in research and planning for development;
  • Ethical approaches to research in developing countries and cross-cultural contexts;
  • Theories and issues concerning the ways gender relates to development practice and research;
  • The application of qualitative research tools, including observation and interviews;
  • Practitioner applications of social research in development, including participatory action research (PAR); and social impact assessment (SIA);
  • Theoretical and practical approaches to project evaluation;
  • Practical issues in data management and content analysis;
  • Report writing for development projects

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Observation Field Notes (individual)


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5


Part 1: Devise Interview Questions (group)

Part 2: Conduct an Interview (individual)

Part 1 - 10%

Part 2 - 20%

LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8

Data Management & Analysis (individual)


LO4, LO5

GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Barbour, R. (2008). Doing focus groups. London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). (2000). CIDA Evaluation Guide. Canada: Performance Review Branch, CIDA.

Department of Social Services. (2012). Research in action: A guide to best practice in participatory action research, Canberra: ACT: Department of Social Services, Commonwealth Government of Australia.

Desai, V., & Potter, R.B. (2014). Doing development research. London: Sage.

Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R.I., & Shaw, L.L. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes, (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Laws, S., Harper, C., Jones, N., & Marcus, R. (2003). Research for development: A practical guide. London: Sage.

Liamputtong, P. (2010). Performing Qualitative Cross-cultural Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Srinivasan, B., & Mehta, L. (2003). “Assessing Gender Impacts”. In Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay (Eds) The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 161-78.

O'Leary, Z. (2014). The essential guide to doing your research (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.

The Interorganizational Committee on Principles and Guidelines for Social Impact Assessment (2003) “Principles and Guidelines for Social Impact Assessment in the USA”, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 21 (3) (September), pp. 231-50.

Walter, M. (Ed.) (2013). Social research methods (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs