Download the course brochure

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 degree 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...

01

Interdisciplinary
knowledge

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...

02

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.

03

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!

04

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.

Degree
Structure

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3

Please note the course 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 - Quantitative Spatial Analysis:
This module is designed to give you the foundation skills to model objects and analyse geographical and spatial phenomena, such as viral spread, trade and climate.
Investigating the human and natural world I - Methods for understanding the evolution of social behaviour
This module aims to future deepen your understanding of Evolution, and explores how understanding human social behaviour through the lens of natural sciences can help us address major societal problems such as anthropogenic climate change, supporting charities, xenophobia, overfishing
Introduction to data engineering
This module is designed to enable you to use programming to handle large amounts of data
Further statistics and probability
On this module you’ll learn more sophisticated methods to analyse complex data and to model the likelihood of outcomes in relation to real-world problems.
Intermediate functional methods
This module teaches mathematical methods to analyse and make sense of complex systems, to enable you to grapple with real world problems from population growth to the spread of ideas.

Qualitative and Visual Methods II

15 credits each

+
Design Thinking
This module provides an introduction to design thinking, from how design influences people’s behaviour, to how to engage in a critical, lean, and iterative design process that focuses on the user and pushes the boundaries of the possible.
Telling the story of a Wicked Problem: from Tyndall to TED
This module focuses on the communication of wicked and interdisciplinary problems, and aims to develop advanced close reading skills of media from print to TED talks.
Thinking through writing
This module aims to improve your ability to write and think in a reasoned way, using critical thinking techniques and avoiding cognitive biases.
Thinking visually: from visual narratives to system thinking
The aim of this module is to allow you to create images and generate significant connections between them as a method to communicate, analyse, imagine, relate, criticize and tell a story. You’ll explore how images and system diagrams are used to document and comment on society, and the ways in which knowledge can be created and undermined through still and moving images.
Ethics and ethnographies: designing socially engaged research
This module will introduce you to the ethical principles of research with human subjects, and will support you in designing a small-scale project to answer a research question.

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
This module builds on the Level 5 module, “Thinking visually: from visual narratives to systems thinking”, and aims to enhance your diagramming toolkit so that you can illuminate and communicate complex problems, quantitatively model your understanding, and build simulations.
Full Stack Web Development
This module aims to equip you with the knowledge and methods to create a “Full stack” website, using best practice modern techniques.
Further Data Engineering
This model aims to equip you the foundations of a cutting-edge and best practice set of methods to handle data, and to familiarise you with the journey from small-scale to big data that you will encounter in real-world contexts.
Investigating the physical world II: Dynamic physical systems
This module teaches concepts and methodologies to model and analyse dynamic physical systems. You’ll apply these concepts and methodologies directly - for example to problems of product innovation, weather and energy distribution - but also as a superconcept to problems of political, economic, social and human systems.
Investigating the natural and human world II: Understanding and measuring human intelligence in context
This module aims to develop your scientific literacy, particularly around the controversial topic of intelligence. It will provide you with an opportunity to apply your previously learned scientific research methods and skills in developing your own quantitative experiment.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
This module covers the core concepts of machine learning, which is fast becoming a standard methodology and approach to solving real world problems that involve large amounts of structured and unstructured data.
Climate Change and Planetary Health
This module examines the impact of social and economic inequalities on our collective sustainable consumption of natural resources on earth, as well as its consequences on human health and the sustainability of our current civilisation.

Qualitative Methods III

15 credits each

+
Stories and Campaigns: communications to shape the world
This module centres on the discourses and practices of multi-media campaigns. While new media brings unprecedented power and possibilities, it also raises problems including "context collapse" - in other words, how can we tell stories in the digital age when we have little control over how it will be received by multiple audiences?
Social Exploration and Excavation – Qualitative research in action
This module aims to develop your practical qualitative research skills, including active listening and communication, through undertaking a detailed qualitative research project in a small team.
Apparatus, Process and Subjective Methodologies in Photography and Videography
This module aims to give you the tools to develop an original personal video project, the technical skills to produce, edit and post-produce it, and the investigative abilities to apply personal research methodologies in photo-video. You’ll be able to experiment with video and photography as types of media that are dynamic, interdisciplinary and continually evolving.
Global Citizenship
This module aims to prove you with an understanding of the international system and its inherent and burgeoning interconnections, and will encourage you to cultivate a “global” approach to exploring and designing solutions to complex problems.
Podcasting and Power
This is primarily a practical module designed to empower you to make podcasts of a professional quality, both in terms of content and technique. As part of the module, you’ll learn about important theories and principles concerning free speech, the power of communication, and their limits.
Skills for Sustainability
This module introduces key aspects of learning-for-sustainability from both theoretical and practical perspectives. It aims to support students in developing real-world skills in restoring habitats for native wildlife, reducing food waste, and engaging in intercultural communication and co-creative practice.

A word about credits

In the UK, to gain a degree you need to pass a certain number of credits in each year of the degree. Each module is given a credit – you are awarded this when you pass the module at assessment. Credits are accumulated towards the total credit required for the degree. To get a BASc (Honours), you need to get a total of 360 credits over three years.

The way our degree is structured, you will need to earn 120 credits in Year 1, up to 135 in Year 2, and at least 105 credits in Year 3 to gain a BASc (Honours).