Advanced Research Design in Politics and International Relations - PO8108

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn 7 20 (10) DR A Wroe checkmark-circle


The purpose of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the foundations and practices of research and research design in politics and international relations at an advanced level. It will enable students to understand the connections between research questions and the theory and methods used to explore them; and to understand the rationales and contexts that shape different choices about research questions, research designs and research methods, including epistemological, ontological and practical issues. Upon finishing the module students will be able to make and defend their own choices on research design and understand the menu of choices available to them as they develop their research careers. In pursuit of these goals the module will in its core section introduce students to debates about the main approaches to investigation in politics and international relations as well as an understanding of the main elements of different research designs, including the intellectual and practical issues that need to be addressed when making choices about these elements.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 178
Total study hours: 200

Method of assessment

Poster focussing on Research Question, including Literature Review and Theoretical Argument, 40%
Outline of research design and methods, 2500 words, 60%

Indicative reading

Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath, Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills, 2nd Edition (Oxford University Press, 2017)
John Gerring, Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework, 2nd Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, 5th Edition (Oxford University Press, 2016)
Peregrine Schwartz-Shea and Dvora Yanov, Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (Routledge, 2012)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the foundations and practice of research and research design, including the philosophy of research methods, in politics and international relations
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the role of research questions, and possess the ability to identify an advanced-level researchable question in politics and international relations
Build and defend a theoretical argument in politics and international relations at an advanced level
Understand the strengthens and weaknesses of different ways of testing theoretical arguments in politics and international relations, including scientific hypothesis testing
Understand the rationale for, and identify different ways of using, quantitative and qualitative data, from a wide range of methods including, but not limited to, narratives, interviews, observational, ethnographic, and mixed methods, to assess theoretical propositions in politics and international relations and assess the strengths and weaknesses of research designs and methods using these forms of data
Write an advanced level research proposal in politics and international relations which reflects critically on how the research design and methods chosen answer the chosen research question


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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