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FOAR7000 – Research Paradigms

2020 – Session 1, Fully online/virtual

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff
Greg Downey
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Admission to BPhil/MRes
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

This unit provides a broad overview of the research paradigms that characterize the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Through this unit, the Faculty of Arts seeks to provide students with a constructive framework to recognise the possible contribution of diverse theoretical and disciplinary approaches. By concentrating on a core problem that crosses disciplinary boundaries in their final assessment task, demonstrating how that problem might be confronted under different paradigms, students will become conversant in a range of analytical techniques and theoretical perspectives. Students will learn to better recognise the assumptions that underwrite diverse approaches, their strengths, and their relations to each other, especially to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Although much of scholarship today requires focused specialisation, being able to communicate our ideas, recognising the significance of new research, and building meaningful collaborations all require an understanding of the diversity of approaches available in the Arts.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: refer to and use key texts and intellectual paradigms in the context of a range of Arts disciplines.
  • ULO3: communicate a clear and coherent explanation of ideas to different audiences, including within their own discipline and across cognate disciplines.
  • ULO4: analyse a model text and identify broad paradigms being deployed by another theorist.
  • ULO5: devise model research projects, on a single topic, demonstrating command of multiple theoretical paradigms.
  • ULO6: describe and evaluate diverse theoretical paradigms in general and in relation to a particular research topic.

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

All resources, including readings and lecture recordings, will be made available through the unit's iLearn site and Leganto, a service of the Library Reserve (which is online). Please refer to this site for specific due dates, procedures, and other materials, including the schedule of topics and reading. The unit is offered both externally and internally, and students are encouraged to establish reading groups (like tutorials), but these are not required. 

We do strongly recommend that students try to attend physically, both the lectures and the discussions. We know that this can be inconvenient, but most students, in spite of their best efforts, maintain higher motivation, attention and performance if they physically attend classes. Even if you are registered to do the unit externally, please know that you are welcome to attend either the lectures or a tutorial discussion. We believe that, at the MRes level, students are the best judge of how to apply their time and energy to achieving their goals in the program. 

Discussion boards will be provided online, and students are encouraged to engage with the texts and assessment tasks, although all students must produce their own work on the two assessment tasks. Discussion of these tasks is permitted and encouraged.

PLEASE NOTE: Students do not need to purchase texts for this unit. All materials will be available through electronic reserves.

As of 2017, a new optional tutorial program has been added for students to provide an opportunity to explore the paradigms in a more interactive, peer-to-peer fashion. These tutorials are headed by highly qualified recent PhDs and late-career PhD students (as well as the unit convenors, on occasion). Although they are not required or assessed, attendance will be recorded and they are strongly encouraged. External students will have an analogue activity available online.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

Unit schedule for 2020.

Week 1 Introduction to Research Paradigms Overview: Greg with Noah and Nicole

Week 2 Rational Choice Theory. Overview: Greg Guest lecturer: Adam Lockyer (Security Studies and Criminology)

Week 3 Marxisms. Overview: Noah Guest lecturer: Jean-Philippe Deranty (Philosophy)

Week 4 Functionalism, Structural Functionalism, et al. Overview: Greg Guest lecturer: Nick Harrigan (Sociology)

Week 5 Modernisation theory, Weber and the use of ‘ideal types’ Overview: Greg Guest lecturer: Jon Symons (Sociology)

Week 6 Hermeneutics and symbolic approaches. Overview: Greg  Guest lecturer: TBA

Week 7 Psychoanalysis and psychodynamics. Overview: Greg Guest lecturer: Kevin Groark (Anthropology)

Midsemester break

Week 8 Narrative theory. Overview & Guest lecturer: Paul Sheehan (English)

Week 9 Microsociology or Interactionism Overview: Greg Guest lecturer: TBA

Week 10 Structuralism, Semiotics, and Cognitive Approaches Overview: Greg Guest lecturer: TBA

Week 11 Poststructuralism Overview: Nicole Guest lecturer: Noah Basil (Modern History, Politics and International Relations)

Week 12 Post-humanism and the Anthropocene Overview: Greg or Nicole Guest lecturer: Ian Collinson (Media, Music, Communication, and Cultural Studies)

Week 13 Wrap up, evaluations, synthetic discussion: Noah and Greg

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

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Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

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