POL10170 Foundations in Political Research

Academic Year 2023/2024

By your undergraduate studies you will develop a wide-ranging understanding of social science. Most courses you will take in your studies will relate to politics itself—about politics in different regions, or about particular aspects of political systems. This course, however, is about political science, about doing research on politics and in the social sciences more generally.
Theoretically and practically, we will consider questions such as: How do we design our research? How do we collect data? How do we draw valid conclusions from these data? While the focus in many other modules will be on knowledge of theories and knowledge of political systems, as well as basic analytical and critical skills, this module will provide you with very relevant practical skills and increased analytical skills that will benefit you throughout your career, both academically and professionally.

The module spans several topics, including: general types and core elements of research design; brief overview of the main methods in use in political science today; as well as practical and ethical considerations of political research. While we will explore empirical research methods and the visual inspection of results, this merely functions as an example to the core components of the course. Special attention will be paid to writing and reading political science research.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module you should:
• Be familiar with core terminology (jargon) in political science research;
• Understand the underlying principles of good research design in politics;
• Have a basic understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of a number of methodological approaches;
• Be able to critically evaluate the empirical basis of findings in published research;
• Be able to produce and interpret statistical visualisations;
• Appreciate the practicalities of ethics and dissemination in politics research.

Indicative Module Content:

What is political science research?
Paradigms in social science
Elements of a research design
Defining and measuring social science concepts
Visualising statistical data
Looking at statistical relations
Survey questions and questionnaire design
Analysing text
Ethics of social science research
Writing social science research

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The core of the module is a regular lecture series on research in political science. Approximately a quarter of lectures are dedicated to real-world example research projects, to see and understand the course content in practice.

Students will also do a basic data project where they analyze quantitative data using an online (visualization) tool, with video-taped instructions, two lab sessions during the lectures, and a highly structured style of writing an essay to present results. This leads to hands-on experience with social science research despite the large class size.

Throughout the course extensive use is made of audience engagement tools to ensure the lectures are interactive and provide opportunities for students to actively participate. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Report on data analysis Week 5 n/a Graded No


Examination: MCQ exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided within 20 days from submission, as per university guidelines.

Babbie, Earl. 2015. The Practice of Social Research. 14th edition ed. Cengage Learning. (or later version)

Alternative: Babbie, Earl. 2017. The Basics of Social Research. 7th edition ed. Cengage Learning. (or later version)