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LN906 Research Skills in Modern Languages

15 CATS (Term 1)

Module convenor and contact: Dr Caroline Summers

What are the skills needed to be a researcher in your particular branch of Modern Languages? What are the standards and expectations for presenting your research in the field and beyond? How do these research skills reach beyond academic work to equip you for other professional contexts?

This module addresses the basic principles and procedures at the heart of advanced research in all areas of Modern Languages. You will become familiar with key research resources in your field and will learn how to evaluate and apply the materials available to you. You will also learn how to position your own research and writing within a broader scholarly landscape.

Core research principles explored on the module:

  • Academic integrity
  • Originality
  • Reproducibility
  • Research ethics

Students wishing to find out more about the SMLC ethics permission process can find out more here.

The module focuses on developing the following skills:

  • Locating and accessing a range of scholarly resources;
  • Evaluating existing scholarship and other materials, including abstracts and close reading of academic articles;
  • Writing for different audiences, including summarising an article and producing long-form academic writing.

The research techniques that you will develop and the ability to apply a chosen stylesheet consistently and accurately in order to present a piece of work to high standards are also transferable professionalising skills that are valued in a variety of jobs.

The understanding and skills you gain in this module will support the specific studies you undertake in other MA modules, and especially the Dissertation. They will stand you in good stead if you wish to continue to doctoral research after your MA, and are also highly transferable professional skills that are valued in a variety of jobs.

Teaching schedule

The module will be taught in 5 compulsory 2-hour sessions and one optional 2-hour session. Sessions are conducted by SMLC staff members and by specialist subject librarian(s). Preparatory work will be set for each session, to enable all students to participate fully in the discussion. MA students are also encouraged to attend co-curricular events and research events across the SMLC that will support their development as researchers in Modern Languages.

Below is an indicative module outline, to give an idea of the topic areas that may be covered. Actual topics may vary from what is listed.

    • Week 1: Introduction to the module and core principles of research, including a Development Needs Analysis (DNA)
    • Week 4: Asking good questions
    • Week 5: Positioning your work
    • Week 6 [optional]: Writing a PhD proposal and applying for funding
    • Week 7: Finding good answers
    • Week 8: Communicating your research

    In weeks where no taught session is scheduled, support and materials will be available to students to enable them to continue their work for the module. There will be optional tasks to complete during these longer periods between sessions.


    Annotated Bibliography in Modern Languages & Translation Studies (30%)

    Compile an Annotated Bibliography (12-18 entries) on a specific topic within Modern Languages research, using a variety of relevant databases and/or reference works. You should put into practice the skills and insights you have acquired through the module sessions: the bibliography will demonstrate your capacity to locate, understand, synthesise and evaluate sources that are relevant to your research. Each entry should be accompanied by an annotation of up to 150 words to justify its inclusion. You should also add a list of bibliographical tools and search terms used, with a brief, reflective statement on what you found the most helpful or most limited, and why.

    Literature Review (70%)

    Write a literature review of c. 2,000 words for a topic or research problem of your choice related to your research area. This must be a different topic from the annotated bibliography, but you may use some of the same databases and sources where relevant. A literature review is a discursive, analytical survey of the most significant research that, in your view, has already been conducted on your chosen topic. It should identify and evaluate significant theoretical or methodological approaches and assess these against the backdrop of a particular research question or questions.