Module Catalogue 2022/23

POL2017 : Becoming a Political Researcher

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Orly Siow
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Politics research can take many forms and use a wide variety of data. This course introduces students to key concepts used in both quantitative and qualitative research, as well as range of research methods and methodologies. It covers both the theoretical underpinnings of different approaches, and the practical steps to collect and analyse various sorts of data. Lectures introduce key topics, ideas and debates. Seminars provide students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience developing a research design, collecting, and analysing data. The course will equip students with knowledge and skills which are applicable to both their undergraduate dissertation in Politics and subsequent careers.

Outline Of Syllabus

In any given year, topics covered may include:
•       Theoretical approaches
•       Research questions and hypotheses
•       Surveys
•       Interviews and focus groups
•       Ethnography
•       Ethics and research methods
•       Case studies and comparative method
•       Content analysis
•       Discourse analysis
•       Reporting findings and writing up

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
•       Understand different theoretical approaches to research, such as positivism, interpretivism and poststructuralism.
•       Understand and engage with key concepts, such as independent and dependent variables, objectivity, reflexivity and discourse.
•       Understand a variety of methods used to collect and analyse data in the study of politics, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, comparative case studies, content analysis and discourse analysis.
•       Be aware of the importance of research ethics and understand how to integrate ethics into a research design.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
•       Explain the relationship between theory and research.
•       Critically analyse published research, assessing both the methods and the findings.
•       Formulate appropriate research questions and hypotheses to address questions related to the study of politics.
•       Develop an effective research design, justifying the theory as well as the practical decisions, such as sampling and measurement.
•       Collect and analyse different types of data using a variety of methods.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Pre-recorded lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PIP Seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities113:0033:00Annotated guided reading
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1134:00134:00Assessment preparation and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk111:0011:00Discussion & exercises based on on-demand lecture and in preparation for readings and seminars (PIP)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the key terms, concepts, and methods associated with researching politics. They also help contextualize data collection and analysis methods within e.g. positivism and poststructuralism. Seminars provide a live, synchronous environment in which students can discuss essential readings and specific methods. The in-person module talk gives students the opportunity to ask questions of the ML regarding the on demand lecture. The time may also be used to expand on recorded lectures and clarify key themes. Structured, guided learning activities such as annotated readings encourage students to engage consistently with the essential readings and specific methods taught.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M15500 words
Essay2M853000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay plan will provide the opportunity to prepare for the essay. The essay will allow students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key concepts and debates covered throughout the course, as well as engaging in particular depth with specific ideas and methods relevant to each question.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.