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POL2017 : Becoming a Political Researcher

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Orly Siow
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials112:0022:00Pre-recorded lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PIP Seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities113:0033:00Annotated guided reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery111:0011:00PIP student consultation and feedback
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1123:00123:00Assessment preparation and completion
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 Lecture Q&A gives students the chance to drop in and ask questions of the ML, who may also use the time to expand on recorded lectures and clarify key themes. Structured, guided learning activities such as annotated readings and encourage students to engage consistently with the essential readings and specific methods taught.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M15500 words
Essay1M853000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay plan will provide the opportunity for formative assessment. 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.

Reading Lists