We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Faculty of Social Sciences & Health

Participatory action research : theories, methods and challenges

Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (NINE DTP), in conjunction with Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University, and the UK Participatory Research Network.;

A two-day course for doctoral students and members of community organisations

Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd July 2018

Kenworthy Room, St Mary's College, Durham University, Durham, UK. DH1 3LR

Following three very successful courses in 2015 and 2016 and 2017, we are pleased to offer again a two-day course designed to develop understanding and skills in the theory and practice of participatory action research (PAR). PAR is increasingly popular, involving people affected by/interested in a research topic taking an active part in designing, carrying out and putting research into practice. The aim of PAR is to bring about change – for example, in people’s living conditions, service provision or public policy. Doctoral students taking a PAR approach face many challenges, including negotiating how to work with partner organisations, handling co-ownership of research findings relating to the thesis, and responsibilities for working for social change.

The course will cover key values, ethical/political issues, theorising and critiquing PAR, working with partner organisations to influence change, and participatory approaches to research design, process, analysis, dissemination and implementation. The course will be participatory, using small groups to focus on specific questions and evaluate learning. Community partners and academics will act as tutors. Ten places will be reserved for members of community organisations, enabling a process of mutual learning for doctoral students and community partners.

The objectives of the course are to:

  1. Enable participants to develop critical understandings of the uses, advantages and limitations of PAR, and an ability to draw on a range of theoretical and practical insights.
  2. Develop participants’ awareness of ethical and political challenges in PAR, particularly in community-university partnership working, and strategies for handling these.
  3. Facilitate the development of participants’ confidence in working with the complexities of PAR within different disciplines and settings.
  4. Offer participants the experience of learning and understanding through active participation during the course, particularly through the co-inquiry group model.
  5. Develop participants’ understanding of the impacts that PAR may have, and processes for creating and capturing these.

Facilitators: The course will be facilitated by a team of academic and community-based practitioners of PAR, with a variety of areas of expertise and experience, including: Professor Sarah Banks, Co-director, Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University; Professor Mary Brydon Miller, University of Louisville, USA; Dr Tina Cook, Liverpool Hope University; Yvonne Hall, community researcher; and others to be confirmed.

Who should come: The course will be of interest to doctoral students and members of community organisations who do, or are interested in doing, research that is participatory. In selecting participants from community organisations, priority will be given to those based in North East England or Northern Ireland. PLEASE NOTE: This course is only available to doctoral students and members of community organisations..


Timing: the course will start at 10.30 on day 1 and finish at 16.00 on Day 2.


  • The course is free for PhD students from NINE DTP Universities: Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Queens Belfast, Teesside, and Ulster, and for members of community organisations.
  • £60 to attend for postgraduate research students from other Universities. This fee includes meals during the two days, but doesn’t include overnight accommodation.

Accommodation: Overnight accommodation is available in the University for participants travelling from outside the North East region. If accommodation is required for either of the nights of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd July, please do let us know via the online application form. You will need to book this and pay directly yourself via the online booking form which we will send you on confirmation of your place.

Further information: Please email , or telephone (+44) 0191 3341987. If you require any further information about the course content, please email Sarah Banks