Research Methods Training I - POLI9640

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Raluca Popp checkmark-circle
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Raluca Popp checkmark-circle


This module introduces the research design and methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations. The aim of the module is twofold: (1) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand, compare and evaluate the design of, and methods used in, research in the field of politics and IR, and (2) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to design your own research project and to make informed choices with regards to the methods of research.

The module focuses on the logic behind various types of research design and the key features of different methods used in research in the field of politics and IR. It gives you the necessary tools, methods and approaches in order to succeed in your essays and your dissertation. It covers the key steps you need in order to write successful postgraduate essays and a successful MA dissertation. The lectures and workshops provide you with the tools to do so, and you will, in the parallel seminars, address a series of topics which are necessary to help you write your first term papers.

The topics which are covered include description and explanation, concept analysis and typologies, the role of theories and theoretical frameworks, delineating a topic and formulating a research question, formulating an argument, the comparative method, case studies and case selection, and historical and ethnographic research.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22

Private study hours: 178

Total study hours: 200


All MA offerings by the School of Politics and International Relations

Method of assessment

Essay 1, 2500 words (40%)

Essay 2, 2500 words (60%)

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Alexander L. George and Andrew Bennett, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences, 2005, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Stephen van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science, Cornell: Cornell University, 1997.

Alan D. Monroe, Essentials of Political Research. Essentials of Political Science, Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 2000.

Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath, Political Research Methods and Practical Skills, Oxford 2017 (2nd edition).

Mark. J. Smith, Social Science in Question, London: Sage, 2003.

Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press, 2012 (4th edition).

David Marsh and Gerry Stoker, Theory and Methods in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 (3rd edition).

Peter Burnham, Karin Gilland, Wyn Grant, and Zig Layton-Henry, Research Methods in Politics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008 (2nd edition).

Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2008 (3rd edition).

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Understand the role of theories and theoretical frameworks and be able to apply them to their own research.

2. Understand and reflect on the difference between description and explanation in research.

3. Understand and be able to design their own research project and to make informed choices with regards to the methods of research.

4. Identify, summarise and critically assess some of the most important approaches and methods employed in the study of politics and international relations.

5. Discuss the theoretical and methodological issues at stake in relation to both their own research and that of others.

6. Understand and be able to formulate and apply to research questions the basic principles of research design in politics and IR.


  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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