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Research project 2: Transport policy and planning case study (CIV5073W)

Course convenor: A/Prof Roger Behrens (Department of Civil Engineering)

Course objectives
The course aims to develop research skills, with a particular focus of developing professional practice in the transport studies field. The objective of the research project is to provide students with an opportunity to undertake a case study in which they are able to develop or deepen critical analytical skills in transport policy and planning processes. The research involves undertaking a critical investigation of the requirement for, the process of preparing and implementing, the content and the impacts of a selected transport policy, plan, strategy or project.

Course structure and submissions
Students are not required to be present on the university campus while undertaking this course. Contact with the course convenor can be maintained through email and Skype. Weighted at 25 credits, the course will require in the region of 250 hours of research time to complete.

The course runs over a single semester (either the first or the second semester), and is comprised of the following phases and associated submissions:

Phase 1:       Topic selection and research proposal

This phase will involve:

  • understanding case study method;
  • identifying an interesting transport policy, plan, strategy or project for study (e.g. an integrated transport plan, a public transport strategy, a transit-oriented development programme, pricing scheme, a travel demand management strategy, etc.) – students are responsible for identifying suitable cases, but are welcome to discuss their ideas with the staff within the Centre for Transport Studies; and
  • preparing a research proposal that motivates why the case is of interest to the student’s base context (i.e. the context for which lessons from the case are to be derived), articulates a set of key research questions, explains the research method that will be followed, and organises the required research activities into a programme of work.

Submission: research proposal (maximum 2,500 words)

Phase 2:       Research ethics clearance

This phase will involve:

  • preparing a research ethics application; and
  • acquiring clearance to proceed with the planned research.

Submission: Assessment of ethics in research projects (submitted to department representative on the Faculty Ethics in Research Committee)

Phase 3:       Literature search and primary case data collection

This phase will involve:

  • searching library data bases and internet search engines to find information on the selected case; and
  • identifying and contacting key individuals and organisations to collect information on the case that is not available in the literature.

Submission: none

Phase 4:       Draft research report (and abstract)

This phase will involve:

  • analysing the information and secondary data collected in the earlier phase;
  • writing a draft research report which presents the findings of the case study analysis; and
  • writing a draft abstract aimed at a professional audience.

Submission: draft research report (maximum 8,000 words excluding references appendices and tables) and abstract (maximum 350 words)

Phase 5:       Final research report (and abstract)

This phase will involve:

  • revising the case study on the basis of the feedback received;
  • finalising the research report; and
  • finalising the abstract aimed at a professional audience.

Submission: final research report (maximum 8,000 words excluding references appendices and tables) and abstract (maximum 350 words)

Phase 6:    Infographic for decision-makers

This phase will involve:

  • synthesising the key lessons emerging from the case study for the base context; and
  • presenting these lessons in an infographic (e.g. electronic poster, or website) aimed at a political decision-maker audience

Submission: infographic (maximum 350 words)

Learning outcomes
Students who have completed the course successfully should:

  • be able to design and execute a case study research method (including an appreciation of research ethics);
  • be able to undertake a critical review and analysis of the process of preparing and implementing, the content and the impacts of a selected transport policy, plan, strategy or project (e.g. an integrated transport plan, a public transport strategy, a transit-oriented development programme, pricing scheme, a travel demand management strategy, etc.);
  • be able to draw well-substantiated findings and conclusions; and
  • be able to identify lessons and implications for improvements in the formulation of policies, plans or strategies.

Assessment
The research project will be subjected to both internal and external examination.

First drafts of the research project reports will be assessed by the course convenor for the purposes of feedback, but no marks will be awarded.

The aggregate mark for this course is compiled as follows:

research proposal 10%
final research project report (and abstract) 80%
infographic for decision-makers 10%
  100%


Students who do not obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% will be deemed to have failed the course.