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POL2081 : Research Methods in Politics

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sebastian Popa
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Aims and Objectives:

Politics research must be well-grounded in both theory and sound methodology. This module enables students to thinking about how to undertake politics research based on these considerations. It also introduces useful skills, such as interviewing techniques and statistical analysis. Surveys and statistics in particular are emphasized because they are often used for political purposes. Politics students need to understand how numbers are manipulated and used in politics. This module also provides a background to how qualitative methods are often used in student research. It is intended to enhance the quality of future research projects, such as dissertations, through ‘hands-on’ practice.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered:
Research questions and hypotheses
Data collection
Univariate analysis of data (measures of central tendency, measures of distribution)
Statistical inference
Data visualisation
Bivariate analysis of data (cross tabulations, measures of association)
Multivariate analysis of data (multivariate regression)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical71:007:00Computer lab
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00Seminar Discussion
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will be interactive but are needed to impart basic information and background to the skills. During the small group teaching sessions, the students will discuss how the techniques they've been learning have been applied in the study of politics. In the practical sessions, students will learn how to use SPSS to address a research question.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A25N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M30Research Assignment Portfolio - First Half. Between 1000-1500 words
Report1M15Media critique - GROUP PRESENTATION
Portfolio1M30Research Assignment Portfolio-Second half. Between 1000-1500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam will be short answer format, asking students to address very specific questions about the use and interpretation of the methods learned. The research portfolio will consist of a series of assignments asking students to use the techniques taught to study a research question. It has been broken into two parts so that formative feedback can be given. The media critique will ask students to critique the presentation of data or research related to politics in the media.

Exchange Students:
An alternative form of assessment will be set for exchange students from non-English speaking home institutions replacing the examination. The alternative form of assessment is set in accordance with the University Assessment tariff.

Reading Lists