Interdisciplinary Problems and Methods (Bachelors)
Whilst problems provide the framework for the course, it’s the focused knowledge of core academic disciplines, research methods, and amplification techniques that will give you the ability to tackle them.
The course is designed to give you an understanding of a variety of knowledge areas including data science, sociology, engineering, ethics, international relations, psychology, design-thinking, sustainability, history, machine learning, new media, and business. That being said, it’s important to think beyond silos. The world is not divided into subjects and neither is this programme. Instead, you will learn how to bring together the most important knowledge areas from each discipline - relevant to the problem at hand - using research methods and amplification techniques to make connections and find new solutions.
LIS students will develop...
Superconcepts, like evolution, entropy, and post-modernism, are powerful tools for any polymath. They are just one of the tools you will use to go beyond the constraints of subject silos. Originating in a single discipline, superconcepts traverse disciplinary boundaries - often blossoming in disciplines far removed from their initial genesis. Consider evolution. Evolution, originating from biology, is now found in psychology, game theory, history, ecology, environmental science, computer science, new media...
Research methods allow you to produce your own knowledge as well as critique knowledge gained in a wide variety of disciplines. In an age where factual knowledge is immediately easy to come by, the value of generating your own knowledge is greatly increased. By studying a range of qualitative tools (e.g. videography and ethnography), as well as key quantitative methods (e.g. machine learning and data science), you will be well-positioned to do research in your own areas of interest and the areas of interest to our employer partners.
Practical skills for the future of work
It is no longer enough to simply graduate with a 2:1. You need to graduate with the skills employers are looking for - skills you will actually use in the workplace. We will open the doors to our network and give you access to some of the UK's most prestigious employers. We will teach you how to communicate effectively, both across disciplinary boundaries and different employment sectors, so you can deliver genuinely useful work to a variety of audiences in written, oral, and graphic form. Not only this, but you'll recognise and have a nuanced understanding of any ethical issues associated with your work. Our partners are excited to meet you!
Knowledge you can transfer
Transferable skills. Often talked about but rarely explained. At LIS, your learning and development will extend beyond the constraints of a traditional lecture theatre. We will encourage you to be hungry for knowledge and to demonstrate an independence of mind. Your third-year Capstone research project will be a good opportunity to demonstrate this. Here, we’ll ask you to work with one of our partners to dissect a complex problem they're facing, before drawing upon your previous learnings to propose a potential solution.
Please note the programme and module structure below is indicative and likely to change (including the module names). Just as the world and its many problems evolve, as will our curriculum. The details below give you a flavour of what you may study whilst at LIS.
Problems and Amplification Ia
This module will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study of complex, real-world problems. The exact nature of the problem - e.g. whether it is ‘Knife Crime’, ‘Plastic Waste’ or ‘Issues Associated with an Ageing Workforce’ - will be determined nearer the start of each academic year. Students will be required to build up an interdisciplinary perspective on each problem through a range of guided formative and summative assessments based on the techniques, tools, and knowledge they will learn in the Qualitative and Visual Methods section of the curriculum.
Problems and Amplification Ib
Problems and Amplification Ib will build further on the interdisciplinary study of complex, real-world problems covered in Ia.
Problems and Amplification Ic
This module will progress students further in the interdisciplinary study of complex, real-world problems. Students will be required to synthesise aspects of their learning from Terms 1 and 2, as well as the qualitative and quantitative methods modules to demonstrate that they can apply interdisciplinary learning to a problem of their choice.
Interrogating and Using Data
Quantitative methods are foundational tools which can be used in conjunction with multiple disciplines. This module will introduce students to a range of quantitative tools, skills, methodologies and concepts including statistics, estimation techniques, and probabilistic thinking.
Coding and Machine Learning
During this module, students will understand how quantitative methods, such as Python and linear algebra, can be used to tackle real-world problems. On completion, students will be able to use a variety of quantitative methods.
Communicating Visually and Verbally
Although often originating in identifiable disciplinary contexts, qualitative and visual methods are nevertheless cross-disciplinary in their applications and therefore a key part of any interdisciplinary toolkit. During this module, students will learn how to apply a range of qualitative and visual tools (e.g. videography, essay writing, and systems diagrams) to tackling complex problems.
Hearing and Recounting the Lived Experience
This module introduces new qualitative research methods and ideas as well as building on areas, such as ethics, from previous modules. Students will learn how to apply a range of qualitative and visual methods to interdisciplinary problems.
Problems and Amplification IIa
The problem-based classes are core to the LIS philosophy and will feature in each year of the programme. In their second year, students will assess problems through a professional lens (e.g. designer, marketer, ethicist, consultant etc.) rather than disciplinary (Law, Psychology, Economics, Data Science etc.) as they do in the first year. The aim of these modules is thus to introduce students to inter- or post-disciplinary ways of analysing and tackling complex problems which are related to professional disciplines, rather than academic disciplines.
Problems and Amplification IIb
Students will continue to explore the inter- and post-disciplinary ways of analysing and tackling complex problems related to professional disciplines.
Problems and Amplification IIc
This module will require students to synthesise aspects of their learning from Terms 1 and 2, as well as the qualitative and quantitative methods modules, and to demonstrate that they can apply interdisciplinary learning to a problem of their choice.
This module will allow students to use their interdisciplinary learnings and apply these to areas of particular interest. Examples of these topics may include complexity and social systems, consciousness, integrated design, climate change impact research, smart communities etc.
Mental Models and Superconcepts
Using a lattice of mental models (of which Superconcepts are one type of model), this module is designed explicitly to help students think across disciplinary boundaries so they can make connections between both existing disciplines and worldviews. Examples of mental models: anti-fragility; opportunity cost; simple heuristics. Examples of superconcepts: Evolution; Entropy; Fiction; Postmodernism.
Qualitative and Visual Methods II: Influencing
Students will learn how design and communication influence people’s behaviour. This will allow them to: better understand ‘the user’ and the world around them; challenge assumptions; redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions; communicate those strategies and solutions effectively.
Quantitative Methods II: Data Visualisation
During this module, students will build further on topics covered in Quant Methods Ib. Topics covered may include databases and SQL interfaces, basic unit testing, modules, packages, and debugging etc.
Students will work on a real-world problem of their choice either individually or in teams of 2-5 people. The Capstone Project is a good opportunity for students to bring together their learnings from the rest of the degree and apply it to a real-world problem of particular interest to them. External partners (most likely employers) will pitch to the student teams/individual the problem they would like the students to focus on. The student teams/individual will then pitch back to the partners their suggested approach to the problem. There will be a match-making exercise with an aim (though no guarantee) that all employers and student teams should be able to work with one of their top 3 choices.
Advanced Methods and Amplification (options)
Methods Advanced functional concepts: Arithmetic series and progressions, infinite series, Fourier transforms, phase space, complex functions, convolutions (10 week course) Data Science and Machine Learning: K-means clustering, SVM, neural nets, deep learning, fairness Concepts of: RNNs, GANs, reinforcement learning, federated learning and privacy, safety, multi-agent (10 week course) Ethical Analysis of business and operating models: Deep analysis of broader implications through different normative ethical approaches: virtue ethics, deontology, consequentialism, utilitarianism, care/relational ethics, pragmatic (6 week course) Advanced project management: Including PRINCE2, Agile etc., and use of tools for collaboration and remote working including Trello, Asana etc. (4 week course) Multi-stakeholder foresight analysis: Such as red/blue/orange/purple team approaches (4 week course) Amplification Techniques Linguistics & language of power structures and systems, institutions and organisations: Decoding one’s environment to be able to effect change & subvert within it. Pluralistic platforms: Platforms and spaces for dialogue and debate between multi- and often opposing voices and partners (as opposed to a channel through which similar voices and ideas are expressed and galvanised). 'Cross-voice’ platforms that allow for new forms of engagement and understanding. Presence and public speaking across media: Developing an understanding of personal impact style and how to communicate with different audiences. Workshops with professional actors and musicians on presentation and projection. Advanced film and audio techniques Innovation spin-out - From research to start-up. Transitioning from academia to the company, including topics like funding (sources and how to structure it), growing an organisation, IP, governance, partnerships. Dynamics of Power: How to disaggregate types of power in organisations and systems. Identifying intervention points and ethical considerations of utilising them.
Advanced Interdisciplinary Electives
These modules will build on the interdisciplinary electives covered in year 2.
Guided MOOC specialisation
At LIS, we want to encourage all students to ‘exemplify a positive attitude to continual learning’, and deepen their expertise in an area of their interest. A MOOC, sourced by the student in consultation with LIS tutors, will allow students to progress in disciplinary knowledge and more advanced methods, building on knowledge and methods learnt in the LIS curriculum and through the problems. After completing the MOOC, the student will be asked to present a seminar on their learning, which contributes to the overall grade for the module.