Diplom-/ DissertandInnenseminar

Link: TISS 280.514

SE Seminar / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 3.0

i. Aim of the Course

The seminar is aimed at doctoral and advanced master students conducting research in urban design, planning theory, urban studies and related disciplines. It is intended for students who are looking for an opportunity to discuss their thesis projects in a supportive environment with both their peers and an interdisciplinary team of researchers. The course will include lecture-type inputs on research design and research methodologies in the interdisciplinary field of urban study. It will provide support to participants in developing their research designs, including advanced contemporary theories, questions, hypothesis and methods. Particular focus will be placed on reflecting on the approaches to (social) space in architecture, urban design and planning considering the perspectives of urban sociology and cognate fields of public space and urban cultures.

The seminar is structured in two concentrated interactive blocks (for dates see below). Participants will be expected to present their research ideas, progress and open questions or problems in each block. Each presentation will be followed by a solution-oriented discussion on the presented project. Presenters are encouraged to unveil problems instead of successes while listeners will advise and support their fellow students (rather than criticizing them). By receiving and articulating constructive feedback, participants will learn about a range of theories and methods in urban research and develop the capacity to critically engage in the assessment of research projects.

ii. Subject of the Course

Contemporary urban theory has developed apace over the last decade to consider complex urban processes and issues that have risen as a result of globalisation, diversification of the economy, socio-demographic shifts, neoliberal political agendas, migration and growing concerns around the environment, amongst many other salient issues. Urban design and landscape architecture theory is increasingly concerned with new issues and concerns focused on questions of urban democracy, spatial and environmental justice, theorizing everyday life and discussing emerging epistemologies of collective acts of appropriation of (public) urban space. The seminar will place a particular emphasis on urban culture and public space, but contributions on other subjects are welcome.

The seminars will be interactive, delivered in concentrated blocks. Depending on the number of participants, each student will be allocated a 30-minutes slot for discussing her/his work. The students will be expected to prepare a text of 4-6 pages about their research and upload it on the course website at least 14 days in advance, so that teachers and fellow students can prepare for in-depth discussion. All students are requested to write a one paragraph feedback to their peer-students exposés. The nature of the seminars is developmental, designed to help the students with constructive feedback.

iii. Additional Information

The course language is English.

The course is structured in five blocked days. A minimum of 80% participation is mandatory. Attendance at the Kick-Off meeting is required to confirm registration to the course.

iv. Dates

Kick-Off: 03 October, 9am

18 Ocotber 2017, 9am – 3.30pm
19 Ocotber 2017, 9am – 3.30pm
29 November 2017, 9am – 3.30pm
16 January 2018, 11am – 3.30pm
17 January 2018, 9am – 1pm

18th Oct 2017    
09.00 – 10.30 Unit 1 Introduction + Getting to know one another
11.00 – 12.30 Unit 2 Short Lecture Ed + Debate (e.g. on different strands in urban design theory, or similar)
    This lecture presents theories pertinent to the design of cities. The lecture will include discourses from the late 19th Century leading to contemporary theories that inform city making. Specific cases from Global North and Global South contexts will be used to highlight the translation of ideas, which have formed within a range of disciplines, across contrasting geographies. Issues of uneven urban growth, distribution of resources and global/local relations provide essential contexts for the urban design theories discussed.
14.00 – 15.30 Unit 3 Short Lecture Sabine + Discussion (Introduction to urban studies and creative writing)
    This lecture unit links urban design theory to wider urban theories, and thus connects the fields of architecture, urban design and planning to the multidisciplinary research field of urban studies. Are we doing research on the city, the urban or on urbanization, and what are the differences? At which scales and with which type of spatialities does urban research deal? How is the research on the city linked to research on texts and text production? How can cities become (re)presented as texts, and what is lived space?
19th Oct 2017    
09.00 – 10.30  Unit 4 Short Lecture Ed + Debate (e.g. on different strands in landscape architecture theory, or similar)
    This lecture presents theories pertinent to the design of landscapes. Focusing on the development of contemporary theories the lecture will discuss conceptions such as scale, temporality and representation illustrated through specific cases. The lecture will present the contexts of environmental, social and urban equity that many ideas of landscape aim to address.
11.00 – 12.30 Unit 5 Student Presentation 1 + 2
14.00 – 15.30 Unit 6 Student Presentation 3 + 4
29th Nov 2017    
09.00 – 10.30 Unit 7 Short Lecture Sabine + Debate (e.g. on research design)
    This lecture basically presents different types of research designs for master and PhD theses in architecture, urban design and planning. What is a research question is not enough, but we will ask which ones are good and which ones are bad research questions (in terms of the insights you may produce with them, or not). Which type of research traditions are we dealing with at architecture and planning faculties? How do we set up hypothesis and methodological repertoires, and which tools are appropriate to analyse and interpret data, and process data into socially relevant information? Also, how can we keep research explorative, innovative and experimental, while acknowledging the methodological expertise e.g. from planning, architecture, sociology and geography? Finally: How do me manage to split thesis projects into workable units? And how is this connected to producing socially relevant contributions, while using the thesis to position yourself in the future labour market you want to approach?
11.00 – 12.30 Unit 8 Student Presentation 5 + 6
14.00 – 15.30 Unit 9 Student Presentation 7 + 8
16th Jan 2018    
11.00 – 12.30 Unit 10 Short Lecture Ed + Sabine (e.g. on public space research)
    This lecture focuses on approaches to the research of public spaces. It brings together a range of disciplinary perspectives of public space and the contrasting research techniques. From architecture to urban sociology, but with a focus on the public spaces of cities, seminal research projects and researchers will be discussed. Within this range of approaches the lecture will focus on public space research that addresses contemporary issues of cities and public spaces.
14.00 – 15.30  Unit 11 Student Presentation 9 + 10
17th Jan 2018    
09.00 – 10.30 Unit 12 Student Presentation 11 + 12
11.00 – 12.30 Unit 13 Closing + Debate


Please register for the course via TISS.

v. Examination modalities

  • Exposé text of max. 4-6 pages about own research and 1 paragraph of written comment to all other exposés (40%)
  • Presentation of the individual thesis project (12min) (40%)
  • Delivery of creative writing exercises (20%)

Criteria for evaluation: Deepness of analysis, engagement in the discussions, reflection and self-reflection, creating an own position, ability to take criticism; degree of reflection on researcher¿s role, processes, methods, designs, pitfalls and aporias.

vi. Bibliography

Bridge, G and Watson, S (2011) The New Blackwell Companion to the City. Wiley. (Part Introductions) 

Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press. Section The Research Process, Point 1 (The Nature and Process of Social Research) Point 3 (Research Design) and Point 4 (Planning a research project and formulating research questions), Pp. 2-15, 39-89.

Corner, J. (1999) Recovering Landscape. Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press [pp – Introduction]

Deinet, U. (Ed.) (2009):Methodenbuch Sozialraum. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden.

Deming, M. E.; Swaffield, S. R. (2011): Landscape Architectural Research: Inquiry, Strategy, Design. John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey.

Denscombe, M. (2010) The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects. London: The Open University Press.

Groat, L. and Wang, D. (2002): Architectural Research Methods. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Hou, J. (2010) (Not) your everyday public space. In: Hou, J. 2010. Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities. Oxon: Routledge [pp – chapter 1]

Johnson et. al. (2004) The Practice of Cultural Studies. Sage. Section Groundings (Pp. 26-43, on methodological combination) and Section Make Space! Spatial dimensions in cultural research (Pp. 104-118) 

Lassus, B. (1998) The Obligation of Invention. In: Swaffield, S. 2002. Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press [pp – 64-72]

Peat, J et al (2013) Scientific Writing. Easy when you know how. BMJ Books.

Saukko, P (2003) Doing Research in Cultural Studies. An Introduction to Classical and New Methodological Appraoches. Sage. Pp.1-36 (Thinking Methodologically)

Shane, D. G. (2011) Urban Design Since 1945 – A Global Perspective. Wiley [pp Introduction]

Silverman, D. (2010): Doing Qualitative Research. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.

Verma, N. (2011) Urban design: an incompletely theorized project. In: Banerjee, T. and Loukaitou-Sideris, A. 2011. Companion to Urban Design. Oxon: Routledge [pp – Chapter 4]

Yin, R. K. (2012): Applications of Case Study Research. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.