Qualitative Methods in Politics and International Relations - POLI7020

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Oybek Madiyev checkmark-circle


This module covers various methods of collecting, analysing and interpreting qualitative data used in politics and international relations research. The aim of the module is for students to gain familiarity with a range of qualitative research techniques and to grasp the challenges of gathering and understanding data and producing new knowledge through qualitative research. Students will be taught about a number of methods including document analysis, interviewing, ethnography, discourse and narrative analysis. Students will have the opportunity to gain practical research experience in interviewing and document analysis and learn how to approach the analysis of data collected in these ways in the context of politics/IR projects.


Contact hours

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


The module is compulsory for students on the 'research methods' pathway of one of the School of Politics and International Relations’ MA programmes or on the School’s PhD programme. The module is optional for other masters’ level students across the university.

Method of assessment

Document Analysis, 2,500 words (50%)
Interviewing, 2,500 words (50%)

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

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

Bleiker, R. (2018) Visual Global Politics. Routledge

Bryman, A. (2004) Social Research Methods, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hesse-Bibber, S. N. & Leavy, P. (2010, 2nd edition) The Practice of Qualitative Research, London: Sage.

Hollway, W. and Jefferson, T. (2000) Doing Qualitative Research Differently, London: Sage.

Klotz, A & Prakash, D. (eds) (2008) Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Kvale, S. (1996) Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA et al.: Sage

Mason, J. (2002, 2nd edition) Qualitative Researching, London: Sage.

Rose, G. (2014, 4th edition) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

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

8.1 Identify and critically analyse different epistemological approaches used within politics/international relations .

8.2 Identify and evaluate the strengths/weaknesses of qualitative methods commonly used in politics/international relations, and to evaluate their role and qualities in comparison to other methodologies.

8.3 Understand at a detailed level the principal techniques of qualitative data collection and analysis in politics/international relations, know when it is appropriate to use them and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

8.4 Critically evaluate qualitative analyses they encounter in the subject literature.

8.5 Deploy a range of qualitative techniques effectively.

8.6 Present their research results in a form acceptable for publication.

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

9.1: Work with theoretical knowledge at the forefront of their discipline

9.2: Have a comprehensive and applied understanding of qualitative methods and methodologies

9.3: Undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge

9.4: Identify and solve complex problems in qualitative research.

9.5: Be reflective and self-critical in their research work including demonstrating awareness of advantages and challenges of research choices made

9.6: Engage in oral and written academic and professional communication with others, demonstrating a high level of skill in analysing and presenting scholarly information in the appropriate form

9.7: Demonstrate independent learning ability required for continuing professional development


  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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