FDR in Politics and IR - POLI9971

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 7 4 (2) Tom Casier checkmark-circle
Spring Term 7 4 (2) Tom Casier checkmark-circle


This module does not form part of the formal 180 credits (for the standard) or 240 credits (for the extended) MA. Therefore, assessment of this module does not formally 'count' for the degree. The module represents extra learning and an opportunity to gain advanced social science research skills, including transferable skills to enhance employability. The module is built around 12 practical, discussion, and in-class research seminars, delivered weekly over the course of one term. They cover the ethical, ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues in the social sciences; the main approaches to social science (for instances, including but not limited to foundationalism, realism, materialism, objectivism, anti-foundationalism, poststructuralism, subjectivism, empiricism, positivism, phenomenology, and constructivism); analytical approaches (such as dependent and independent variables, causality, and constitutive theory), and modes of reasoning (deduction, induction) and levels of analysis (agency, structure and co-determination). The module will problematize how these questions are reflected in different subject-specific contexts that represent the main fields of inquiry at BSIS, including political analysis, historical analysis, and economic analysis. The module also involves practical questions of research and dissertation writing, including the construction of a paper proposal, the Dissertation Proposal, and the Dissertation and research papers themselves, the use of research materials (qualitative and quantitative data), and resources (libraries, documentation, and the internet); and drafting and writing, including the use of appropriate academic style and format.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 36
Private study hours: 4
Total study hours: 40


All Politics and International Relations postgraduate taught MA programmes delivered in Brussels

Method of assessment

Seminar attendance (minimum 20 hours), 100%

The module will be assessed by seminar attendance on a pass/fail basis. The student must attend at least 20 hours of seminars to pass the module.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, students will fail the module if they miss more than 4 hours of seminars (out of 24). In assessing individual circumstances, the convenor will also assess whether the module's learning outcomes have been achieved. If this is not the case, students will be required to submit a 1000-word essay which demonstrates their understanding of the material covered on the module as a whole.

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Béland, D. and Cox, R. (2011) Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

de Vaus, D. (2014). Surveys in Social Research. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

Flick, U. Kardorff, E. and Steinke, I, (2004) A Companion to Qualitative Research. 1st ed. London: Sage.

Hollis, M. (1994) The Philosophy of Social Science: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hollis, M. and Smith, S. (1990), Explaining and Understanding in International Relations. Oxford: Clarendon.

King, G., Keohane, R., and Verba, S. (1996) Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Orcher, L. (2014). Conducting Research. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Taylor and Francis.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Conceptualise a question for investigation, and to design the appropriate research methodology.

2. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between a problem, theoretical approach, research design, and analysis.

3. Follow logically the research design, overcoming any anticipated and unanticipated problems in the empirical research, realising the successful conclusion of the product in the form of a research paper.

4. Apply theoretical perspectives in politics and international relations to case studies.


  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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