Research Methods in Human Geography
An introduction to research methods in human
geography. Emphasis is placed on the application of various methods
to understanding human spatial behaviour.
Two lectures, one lab (two
hours); one term
Prerequisite: One of GEOG 1HA3, 1HB3;
Antirequisite: CMST 2B03, GERONTOL 2C03, HEALTHST 2B03,
HLTH AGE 2A06, 3Z06, SOCIOL 2Z03
Time/Term Offered: Term Two, Winter 2012-13
Instructor: Dr. Michael Mercier
Room: General Science Building Rm. 220
Tel:(905) 525.9149 x27597
Office hours: Monday 9:30-11:20 AM,
Thursday 9:30-11:20 AM
This course serves as an introduction to the methods of research in human geography. An emphasis is
placed on the application of various methods to understanding human spatial behaviour.
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the research methods used in human geography.
Human geography can be defined broadly as the study of social relations in space and the social structures
that underpin those relations. Human geographers attempt to explore, describe and/or explain these social
relations and social structures and the ways in which they shape and are shaped by space. Geographers
use a variety of different methods to accomplish their research goals. The particular method or methods
used will depend on a number of factors, including the research question under investigation and the
theoretical framework adopted by the researcher. The primary purpose of this course is to introduce
students to these research methods and the ways they are employed by human geographers. By the end of
the course, you should have a better understanding of the basis of exploration, description and explanation
in human geography. You will also be able to think more critically about what constitutes good
Tuesday & Friday 2:30-3:20 Location: BSB B-136
lectures and one two-hour lab/tutorial. The labs/tutorials will be used primarily for preparation for class
assignments, and occasionally discussion of assigned readings or other activities. The lecture and
lab/tutorial schedules are included with this course outline (subject to change). This course has an
A2L/Avenue site, and materials will be deposited there regularly; students are encouraged to make use of
Required Text Books/Course materials:
Bryman, A., Bell, E. & Teevan, J. (2012) Social Research Methods (Third Canadian Edition).
Oxford University Press: Don Mills.
The required textbook for this course (listed above) is available for purchase in the Titles Bookstore. You
are expected to read this material – it will be covered on both tests & exams, and will prove beneficial for
your assignments as well.
Additional readings which complement the lecture material and aid in your preparation of course
assignments may be made available either via reserve in Mills Library or on A2L/Avenue. Reading
material that complements and/or challenges the ideas presented in lectures is an important component of
the university educational experience.
The evaluation for this course is divided equally between tests and assignments. There are three required
assignments. These assignments are designed to engage you in research design and implementation, and
to introduce you to different research methodologies. Their purpose is to help you draw connections
between concepts discussed in lectures and readings and real world research examples. These are
practical, hands-on and experiential assignments. There will a Final Exam and a Mid-Term Test designed
to examine your retention of key lecture and reading materials, and key course concepts.
Assign. 1: Social Surveys Due: Week of March 4-8 (in Lab) 20 %
Assign. 2: Qualitative Interviews Due: Week of April 1-5 (in Lab time) 20 %
Assign. 3: Ethnography Due: April 9 (4:00pm) 10 %
Mid-Term Test Date: Feb 15 (in class time) 15 %
Final Exam Date: April Exam Period 35 %
Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception
or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences,
e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation
on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for
academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the
The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes
academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic
dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/Students-AcademicStudies/AcademicIntegrity.pdf
The University reserves the right to change any aspect
of this course outline.
Please Note: The Instructor and University reserve the right to modify elements of this course during the term. The University may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.