Field Research Practicum

 (Subject to change)


Overview and Objective of the Course

This field research will guide students in developing the capability of utilizing theoretical knowledge in real-life research. Through this course, students will obtain intuitive and direct understanding of various aspects of Shanghai, the most modernized city in China. The general objective of the field research is thus to encourage students to discover the unique aspects of Shanghainese society through practicing social scientific studies. This course is listed in the Queen’s calendar as LLCU432 and is worth 6.0 units. Fudan grades will be converted into Queen’s letter grades and recorded on each Queen’s student’s transcript.



The theme of this field research is “discovering Shanghai.” Students are required to conduct field studies with a partner on a specific topic that is related to this theme. Besides, as part of this field research, students should review an appropriate amount of literature (either in English or Chinese) on the chosen topic and address the connections between empirical findings in field research and the extant literature in their final report. The final report should be written in English.


General Guideline

  • Collaborate with your partner throughout the field research: one unique design of this field research is the one-to-one matching between Queen’s and Fudan students. Therefore, the final report should be accomplished as a collaborate project and both parties of a team should collaborate with each other in every step of the research.
  • Select a feasible research topic: before formally starting your field research, you and your partner should think well about the “feasibility” of your topic and make sure it is practically doable. If necessary, please communicate with the instructor.
  • Make due literature preparations: this field research emphasizes the real-life “discoveries”, so the focus is set on the empirical findings and personal reflections. However, you should provide sufficient background information about the theoretical significances of your research. This can be accomplished through literature review.
  • Conduct field research: Depending on your specific topic, there can be a host of methods you may use in your research, including but not limited to key informant interviews, participant observation, secondary quantitative data analysis. You can also use multiple methods simultaneously in your field work.
  • Accomplish a research report: in principle, no pre-determined report structure is provided and you are responsible for organizing your final report by yourself. However, generally you should include sections of Background, Method, Findings, and Conclusions, which are always necessary for a formal research report.



Final marks of the field research will be based on an assessment of the following assignments:

Research Collaboration Exercise (5%)

In the first class, each group will be randomly assigned a research topic and you will have one week to collaborate with your partner to collect information about this topic. You can use all kinds of information sources, including but not limited to the library, online news, etc. In the second class, your group should give a short presentation about this topic (around 5 minutes). This is the first task of this class and calls for close collaboration.

Proposal (20%)

The students will prepare a proposal which should include background discussions of the research site(s), the research topic(s), the significance of the research, and some other related issues. Through this proposal, the director of the field research can evaluate whether or not the research project is practically workable. In this light, it is always helpful to write your proposal in great detail.

Also, each group should include a detailed budget in the proposal. The maximum research expenditure for each group is 1000 Yuan.

Journal (20%) 

The students are required to maintain written journals for the duration of the project (no less than one entry and no more than two entries per week). The journal will contain the details of the field research and thus would be extremely helpful for the final report.

Final Presentation (25%)

The student teams will be required to give a 15 minute presentation. The presentations should not be a mere recounting of the research details but should bring into focus the connection between broader issues of development and the students’ overall experience.

Final Report (30%)

The final report should be a well-written article in which students are required to present their unique findings in a broader research context. It should be a combination of technical account and academic assessment of the research.  Details are explained below.

Final grades will include +/- designations when applicable. Late work will be penalized.


Academic Products Information


Students are required to maintain a journal for their field research on a continuing basis. The journal is an opportunity for you to record the challenges you’ve encountered and how you sought to overcome them; your thoughts about linkages between what you have encountered during your field research and prior experiences and/or your academic training; and questions that you would like to continue to think about. What are the things that challenge, or perhaps conform to, your prior expectations and experiences?

The value of keeping a journal will be directly proportional to the effort you put into writing on a continuing basis, and the degree to which you challenge yourself continuously to reflect upon your experiences while living/studying abroad.

Final Report 

It is important to emphasize that the final report is both a technical account and academic assessment of the placement. What follows is a suggested format for your final report in which you document and reflect upon your experiences in the field research. Please adapt these guidelines in relation to the particular circumstances of your own experience: emphasize what is most relevant, omit elements which “don’t fit”, add other elements that were particular to your experience, and organize material in a way that makes the most sense to you. You are encouraged to use headings throughout the report to highlight its organizational structure.

1. Technical Component (approximately 5 pages)

• Provide a concise overview of your research. Cover such information as the physical setting(s) where you studied/worked and your research activities. Provide time-lines for the various activities.

• Assess your research as a practical learning opportunity. Consider the biggest challenges you faced (and how you overcame them), what you enjoyed most about the field research, and things which were disappointing or frustrating.

• What aspects of your studies proved to be most useful? Were there noticeable gaps in your preparation here that could be addressed for the benefit of future students?

2. Academic Component (approximately 8-10 pages)

• You should critically examine the experience through the “development studies lens.” This requires you to step back from the practice and to use a more critical and intellectual set of criteria in your assessment. You should treat this aspect of the report as any other academic activity and should draw on theory and other academic writing to support your assessment of the experience.

• You may draw on material from your journal, as well as coursework and other academic material presented to you during your courses at Queen’s or elsewhere.

• This aspect of the final report is the most important component as it provides the opportunity for you to show how the experience has contributed to your intellectual growth in and how your view(s) of international development have been affected by the practical experience you have undergone.


Note: The anticipated total length of your report is 15 double-spaced pages. Make the report as concise as possible while at the same time ensuring that you include sufficient details to convey effectively what you experienced in the placement. If you have a few selected photographs or other materials which help to illustrate aspects of your activities, you are encouraged to include these with your report.

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