London Interdisciplinary School ©2019

Interdisciplinary Problems and Methods

Course Content

Course Content

Whilst problems provide the framework for the course, it’s the focused knowledge of core academic disciplines and research methods that will give you the ability to tackle them.

To approach problems, our Programme will give you the opportunity to learn the methods and tools you need to prosper at LIS and in your career.

The course is designed to give you an understanding of a wide variety of knowledge areas from the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, and mathematics.

Real-world problems

Through working on real-world problems, you will draw upon both research methods and knowledge areas.

What problems interest you?

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

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 outside organisations.


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 teach you how to communicate effectively across disciplinary boundaries 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. The organisations in our Network 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, you will work on a real-world scenario to dissect a complex problem before drawing upon your previous learnings to propose a solution.


Year 1
Year 2
Year 3

Please note the programme and module structure below is indicative and likely to change (including the module names). The details below give you a flavour of what you may study during your first year at LIS.

Problems Ia, Problems Ib, and Problems 1c

18 credits each


These modules will introduce you to the interdisciplinary study of complex, real-world problems. You will study problems in the areas of Public Health, Social Issues and Sustainability. You will examine these problems through interdisciplinary lenses, drawing on the techniques, tools and knowledge you will learn during the rest of your first year.

Problems Ia and Ib involve group work, Problems Ic allows you to work on an extended individual project, and to demonstrate how you would apply some of the tools and techniques you have learnt in Year 1 to tackle a problem of interest to you.

Quantitative Methods Ia: Thinking Like a Scientist

15 credits


This first Quantitative Methods module presents an introduction to quantitative and scientific thinking (Part A) and the basic techniques of estimation in statistics and probability (Part B). A grounding in statistical methods and estimation techniques forms the core of all quantitative methods that involve large volumes of observed and inferred data – such as we find in all complex real-world problems.

Quantitative Methods Ib: Introduction to Data Science and Natural Sciences

15 credits


This second module on Quantitative Methods presents an introduction to quantitative methods in data and coding as well as foundational material on evolutionary thinking for the natural and human sciences.

Qualitative and Visual Methods Ia: Communicating Visually and Verbally

15 credits


This module will introduce you to qualitative ways of seeing the world and conceptualising problems. Through adopting an interdisciplinary approach that spans the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, you will acquire the necessary critical thinking skills to approach those parts of the world which are not (yet!) captured, categorised or measured by numbers.

During this module, you will learn how to apply a range of qualitative and visual tools (e.g. videography, systems diagramming and written approaches) to tackling complex problems.

Qualitative and Visual Methods Ib: Hearing and Recounting the Lived Experience

15 credits


This module is a successor to ‘Communicating visually and verbally’ and introduces new qualitative research methods and ideas such as interview techniques, as well as building on areas such as ethics from previous modules.

In Year 2, you can choose three optional modules from a range of quantitative and qualitative methods modules. You must select at least one module from the Quantitative methods II list, and at least one module from the Qualitative methods II list.

Problems IIa, Problems IIb & Problems IIc

18 credits


In your second year, a further range of complex problems are tackled.

Problems IIa and IIb involve group work (in the complex areas of Technology and Ethics, and Education, respectively), Problems IIc allows you to work on an extended individual project, and to demonstrate how you would apply some of the more advanced tools and techniques you have learnt in Year 2 to tackle a problem of interest to you.

Mental Models and Superconcepts: Interdisciplinary ways to view the world

15 credits


Through exploring powerful concepts applicable in current research areas that cross disciplinary boundaries, this module is designed explicitly to help you to think in new ways across disciplinary boundaries so you can make connections between both existing disciplines and world views.

Quantitative Methods II

15 credits each

  • Investigating the physical world I: Quantitative spatial analysis
  • Investigating the natural and human world I: Methods for understanding the evolution of social behaviour
  • Introduction to Data Engineering
  • Further statistics and probability
  • Intermediate functional methods

Qualitative and Visual Methods II

15 credits each

  • Design Thinking
  • Telling the story of a wicked problem: from Tyndall to TED
  • Thinking through writing
  • Thinking visually: from visual narratives to system thinking
  • Ethics and ethnographies: designing socially engaged research

You will choose five options from a selection of modules. You must choose at least one module from the Quantitative Methods III list, and at least one module from the Qualitative Methods III list.

Capstone Project

30 credits


The capstone project is an opportunity for you to work on a real-world problem of your choice either individually or in teams.

You will have the chance to exhibit the sum of your learning in interdisciplinary problem-solving and methods and apply these to a real-world problem of particular interest to you.

Mixed Methods Research and Interdisciplinarity: Theory and Practice

15 credits


Interdisciplinary research and problem-solving often call for qualitative (QL) and quantitative (QN) methods to be combined within a single study. This is challenging because QL and QN methods tend to be grounded in contrasting, and often unspoken, assumptions about the nature of reality (ontology) and the nature of knowledge (epistemology). You will learn how to mix methods without self- contradiction, to understand disciplinary assumptions and adopt an overarching theoretical position that facilitates a shift from ‘either/or’ to ‘both/and’. This module provides a theoretical foundation for the Capstone project and helps you to contribute at the forefront of interdisciplinary practice.

Quantitative Methods III

15 credits each

  • Complexity and Modelling Systems
  • Full Stack Web Development
  • Further Data Engineering
  • Investigating the physical world II: Dynamic physical systems
  • Investigating the natural and human world II: Understanding and measuring human intelligence in context
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Climate Change and Planetary Health

Qualitative Methods III

15 credits each

  • Stories and Campaigns: communications to shape the world
  • Social Exploration and Excavation – Qualitative research in action
  • Apparatus, Process and Subjective Methodologies in Photography and Videography
  • Global Citizenship
  • Podcasting and Power
  • Skills for Sustainability