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Free Community Research online course launches

August 6, 2021

Anna Ehsan and Charlotte Woodhead introduce a brand new – free! – online course which aims to support anyone to conduct their own research for positive social change.

Where is this from?

The Centre for Society and Mental Health and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London have launched a new online course: Research Methods: A practical guide to Peer and Community Research”.

Researchers designed the course to make doing research more accessible. We hope that by making this course freely available to all, it will help build research skills for people who want to engage in community research, but who may have been excluded from doing so in the past. It has been made for anyone who is interested in learning more about community research methods, regardless of past education or experience.

Why did we do it?

We are committed to doing our part to dismantle the structures underpinning unfair differences in access to education and training opportunities. These also contribute to unfair differences in health and mental health in our society. We recognise how ‘The University’ and ‘University Research’ can help to maintain those unfair differences, in who has access to research, what gets researched, how and by who. We recognise that the knowledge, expertise and understanding of how to reduce social inequalities lies not in academia but in the people and communities most affected. We recognise that redistributing the power is essential to real change. We hope that this course is a (small) example of ways people with ‘power’ can help to shake things up.

What is covered?

The course helps bridge community interests with ethical research methods that can help answer research questions in a rigorous way. Learners will learn about academic research methods, but they will also hear reflections from peer researchers and different community organisations that have consulted on the course content, such as Toynbee Hall, Thrive LDN, Black Thrive Global, and the McPin Foundation.

The course runs for 10 weeks and is hosted on FutureLearn. It covers a wide scope of material that is pivotal to doing community research, including:


1.     Introduction to community research

2.     Critical perspectives in community research

3.     Research ethics

4.     Research questions and finding the right method

5.     Interviews and focus groups

6.     Participant observation and other qualitative methods

7.     Surveys and other quantitative methods

8.     Introduction to data analysis

9.     Staying safe while doing research

10.   Sharing knowledge


What will I get out of it?

By the end of the course, learners will be equipped with skills to design their own community research project. They will be encouraged to think critically about issues they may find in their own communities and how to approach them through research. They will gain research skills by developing research questions and finding appropriate methods to help answer them. Research methods covered include both qualitative and quantitative approaches, as well as how to think about analysing data generated from this research. Students will demonstrate an understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and learn to reflect critically on power dynamics and their own position in the research process. They will also learn about staying safe while doing research, and how to best share their findings with different audiences.

Anna (left) and Charlotte (right) will guide you through the research methods on this free course.

Please note – this is a work in progress!

This is not a final polished product, while we are happy with the first iteration and think it’s ready to go, we will be improving and refining the course, especially after feedback from its first run. This includes hearing from people where the language doesn’t feel accessible, understanding if there are any different types of methods or approaches that people want to hear more about, and anything they want more or less of, so all feedback and critique warmly welcomed, help us make this work for you!

How do I enrol?

Students can take part in the course at any time by following this link:  

For more information about the course and to share your feedback, please email

PS – you might recognise Charlotte – she was part of our first set of co-production pilot projects back in 2018!


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