University of Technology Sydney

55993 Honours Research Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication: FASS Communication Core
Credit points: 12 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This is the foundational subject for all honours students in communication. It provides students with the opportunity to develop the research skills that enhance their capacity for independent scholarship and for successfully producing their project in the second session. A main emphasis of the subject is on research methods and methodologies in conceptual, empirical and practice-led modes. In this subject students deepen their understanding of the nature and importance of research methodology, and further develop the theoretical framework and overall research design of their projects. The subject's interdisciplinary context also fosters students' larger understanding of diverse approaches to knowledge creation.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

a. Learn to develop advanced core research skills
b. Create an effective reseacrh plan for the execution of a sustained thesis project
c. Explain the theoretical foundations of their thesis project
d. Integrate appropriate methodologies and methods into design of their thesis project
e. Articulate the significance of their research to themselves and to others
f. Compare a wide range of academic and creative perspectives
g. Understand ethical dimension of research practice

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject engages with the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs), which are tailored to the Graduate Attributes set for all graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

  • Apply theoretically informed understanding of the communication industries in independent and collaborative projects across a range of media (1.2)
  • Possess information literacy skills to locate, gather, organise and synthesise information across diverse platforms to inform the understanding of the communication industries (2.1)
  • Be reflexive critical thinkers and creative practitioners who are intellectually curious, imaginative and innovative, with an ability to evaluate their own and others' work (2.2)
  • Possess the awareness of ethical practice in the personal, political and professional contexts of civil society (5.1)
  • Possess well-developed skills and proficiencies to communicate and respond effectively and appropriately across different contexts (6.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject uses both participatory and independent learning modes, which involve: sustained small-group and whole-class discussions; peer-led critique; scaffolded learning to develop independent project management skills; workshops in research writing skills for both discipline and non-discipline specific audiences; formal presentation of research to peers in an academic forum; advanced digital library research skills.

Content (topics)

The subject teaches research methods in both traditional and practice-led modes of research. It provides students with core skills in research methods and methodologies, and examines the range of proficiencies, knowledge stocks, ethics practices and digital competencies required to create rigorous, multi-skilled researchers.


Assessment task 1: Annotated Bibliography


a, e and f

Weight: 25%

1000 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Relevance of selected texts to research fields 30 a 2.1
Quality of articulation of research significance 30 e 2.2
Quality of critique of selected texts 20 f 2.2
Conciseness of relevant arguments and data 20 f 6.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Preliminary Literature Review


c, d and f

Weight: 35%

2000 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Range and scope of selected texts 30 f 2.1
Relevance of key texts to research field 30 d 2.2
Quality of critique of selected texts 20 c 1.2
Conciseness of relevant arguments and data 20 c 1.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Presentation of Reworked Thesis Proposal


b, d and e

Weight: 40%

3000 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Clarity and precision of aims and ideas as stated in reseacrh question 30 d 2.2
Suitabilty of methodological choices and overall reasearchoroject design 30 d 1.2
High-Level written and structural skills 30 b 6.1
Explication of ethical frameworks and practice 10 e 5.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

Classes are based on a collaborative approach that involves essential work-shopping and interchange of ideas with other students and the tutor.

In this subject assessment tasks are cumulative so that each task builds understanding and/or skills, informed by formative feedback. Consequently, all assessments must be submitted in order for you to receive feedback. Students who do not submit all assessments will not pass the subject.

Required texts

The essential texts for this unit are all available via the UTS library, with links provided via UTS Online.

Recommended texts

Additional texts may be recommended in class, with the "References" list below also a useful collection.


Booth, W.C., 2001, The Craft of Research, Chicago UP, Chicago.

Achtert, W.S. & Gibaldi, J. 1985, The MLA Style Manual. Modern Language Association of America, New York.

Allison, B. & Race, P. 2004, The student's guide to preparing dissertations and theses, Routledge, London.

Barrett, E., Bolt, B. (eds), 2007, Practice as Research: Approaches in Creative Arts Inquiry, I B Taurus & Co, London.

Butcher, J. 1992, Copy-editing: the Cambridge handbook for editors, authors and publishers, Cambridge University

Press, Cambridge.

Crème, P. & Lea, M. 2003, Writing at University: a guide for students, Open University Press, Buckingham.

Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., 2004, What is Philosophy?, Verso, London

Foucault, M., 1972, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Tavistock Publications, London.

Frow, J & Morris, M (eds), 1993, Australian Cultural Studies: A Reader, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards.

Foucault, M., 1998, Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, New Press, New York.

Goleman, D., Kaufman, P. & Ray, M., 1993, The Creative Spirit, Plume Books.

Hogue, A. 1996, First Steps in Academic Writing, Longman, NY.

Jameson, F., 1991, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Duke UP, Durham.

Kumar, R. 1999, Research Methodology: a step by step guide for beginners, Sage, London.

Latour, B., 1997, 'Stenger's Shibboleth', in Stengers, I., Power and Invention, Situating Science, University of

Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Law, J & Mol, A., 2002, Complexities: Social Studies of Knowledge Practices, Duke University Press, Durham.

Morley-Warner, T. 2000, Academic Writing Is: a guide to writing in a university context, Centre for Research and

Education in the Arts, Broadway, NSW.

Murray, R. 2002, How to Write a Thesis, Open University Press, Buckingham.

Parker, J., 2003, Social Theory: A Basic Tool Kit, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Pryke, M., Rose, G. and Whatmore, S. (eds), 2003, Using social theory: thinking through research, Sage, London.

Ranciere, J., 2004, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, Continuum, New York

Rudestam, K.E., & Newton, R., 2001, Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process,

Sage Publications, London.

Seale, C. (ed), 1998, Researching society and culture, London, Sage.

Smith, H., and Dean, R. (eds), 2009, Practice-Led Research, Research-Led Practice in the Creative Arts (Research

Methods for the Arts and Humanities), Edinburgh UP.

Snooks & Co. 2002, Style Guide for Authors, Editors and Printers, Wiley, Milton.

Stengers, I., 2000, The Invention of Modern Science, Minnesota University Press Minneapolis.

Swales, J. & Feak, C.B. 2004, Academic writing for graduate students: essential tasks and skills, University of

Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.

Tomasi, L. (ed), 2001, New Horizons in Sociological Theory and Research: the frontiers of sociology at the beginning of

the twenty-first century, Ashgate, Aldershot.

Turabian, K.L., 1999, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Chicago.

Turley, R.M. 2000, Writing Essays: a guide for students in English and the humanities, Routledge, New York.

Turner, B.S. (ed), 2000, The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, Malden, Blackwell.

Van Emden, J. & Becker, L. 2003, Effective Communication for Arts and Humanities Students, Palgrave Macmillan,


Van Leunen, M-C., 1978, A Handbook for Scholars, Random House, New York.

Zerubavel, E., 1999, The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books, Harvard

University Press.

The Chicago Manual of Style 2003 , University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Other resources