POL8038 : Doing Political Research

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1. To enable students to further develop and practice qualitative and quantitative research skills by using those skills to conduct an original research project in Politics of the student’s choice.
2. To develop an advanced understanding of the different stages of the research process from formulating a research question through research design, data collection and data analysis to writing up a research paper.
3. To examine how a range of qualitative and quantitative methods can be used to answer research questions in political science.
4. To critically evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different research methods.

The MA Politics (Research) is designed to produce high quality researchers with generic social science skills and specific political science skills. This module gives students the opportunity to develop and apply their research skills to a particular topic in political science.

Outline Of Syllabus

1.       Formulating a research question: going from a topic to a question
2.       Research design: theories, approaches and methods
3.       Qualitative and quantitative methods: complementary or alternative?
4.       Data collection
5.       Data analysis
6.       Structuring and writing an academic paper

Students will work in small ‘research teams’ to produce their first (potential) journal article based on original research that they will conduct. Under the guidance of the module leader, students will formulate a research question, critically evaluate alternative research methods that might be used to answer their question, design their research project, collect and analyse data, and write up their paper. Students will be encouraged throughout the module to reflect critically on their own skills as researchers as well as the challenges of collaborative research.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Individual tutorial
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1176:00176:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The seminars will have a workshop format enabling students – working in small groups on their research projects – to discuss each stage of the research process with the module leader and with the other members of the class. This will enable the module leader to support students through the development of an independent, collaborative research project and the production of their first substantial academic paper.

In the one-to-one tutorial students will have the opportunity to reflect with the module leader on their own contribution to their group’s research project. This tutorial session at the end of the module will encourage them to reflect with the module leader on their strengths and weaknesses as researchers and to identify their own key areas for development.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper2M100Collaboratively researched & written academic paper presented as a journal article (approx 6000 wds) (each group 2-3 members)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The group academic paper tests the ability of the students to conduct an independent research project from formulating a question to writing a paper. In particular, the assessment of the paper will focus on the justification, explanation and use of the chosen research methods and research design.

Reading Lists