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Dartington Social Research Unit offers a curriculum for the training of research students based on the Common Language. The training is offered as a supplement to orthodox university programmes leading to a PhD qualification. Consistent with the goals of the Common Language, the curriculum training is designed to equip students to:

  • Use research knowledge to inform policy and practice with regard to children in need
  • Work across disciplinary boundaries of health, social services, police and education
  • Operate flexibly across research, development, dissemination and service delivery organisations
  • Communicate difficult research questions and results to a broad audience
  • Use a clear set of concepts and ideas to contribute knowledge about child development and services to improve that development
  • Operate across legal jurisdictions and national boundaries
  • Develop a network of research colleagues across Europe and North America

In line with the ambition of the Common Language project, the research curriculum seeks to orientate students to the use of evidence to improve demonstrably outcomes for children in need.

The training is primarily delivered through six single week courses and connected through a series of tutorials and individual student tuition. After a probationary year, each student must be registered with a reputable university PhD programme. Students participating in the course have been registered at the universities of Exeter and Bath in England. The course comprises:

  • Lectures dealing with concepts, research methods and applications to policy and practice
  • Tutorials linked to the lectures and covering an extensive reading list used to underpin the Common Language project
  • Practical exercises, often using the Common Language practice tools, designed to connect conceptual work to routine research and clinical practice
  • Seminar discussions led by students describing aspects of their own research for a PhD qualification or other research studies to which they contribute
  • Presentations and exercises dealing with specific skills linked to applied research, for example writing articles or preparing research proposals

The curriculum is aimed at students training to be researchers who seek to apply these skills to the development of children's services with the ultimate goal of demonstrable improvements in outcomes. Wherever possible, each course brings together students from several countries. To date, two cohorts (eleven students) have completed the training programme; representing participation from the UK, US, Argentina, Jordan, Belgium, South Africa and Spain.

A third cohort of students began their training in 2006.

The six single week courses are delivered at:

  • Dartington, UK
  • Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, US
  • Universidad de Pais Vasco, Spain

The course uses a library of relevant literature covering:

In addition to completing the six-week programme and registering for a PhD with a reputable university, students are expected to:

  • Summarise one article or book chapter per week to be shared with other students
  • Participate in a major research study or development project
  • Collaborate on a published article with other students on the course