POL50220 Social Science Methodology

Academic Year 2023/2024

In this course we will cover broader issues related to the logic of inquiry in social science. We will discuss both questions from the philosophy of science and more practical aspects of research design. Please note that the details of specific research methods one can apply will not be discussed in this module. For that purpose, there are modules that specialize in qualitative methods or quantitative methods.

Many of the topics discussed in this course are controversial -- practitioners of social science research may disagree on fundamental issues related to research aims, methods, design, etc. The module will stimulate critical reflection of methods. While the assignments can be written from different points of view, the course provides a somewhat more positivist perspective on social science.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

--- outline some of the central themes in the philosophy of social science and research design;
--- differentiate the main approaches and perspectives in this field;
--- reflect on scientific practice and progress from a philosophical point of view;
--- discuss the assumptions and mechanics of descriptive and causal inference in social science;
--- incorporate these considerations into the design of a research project.

Indicative Module Content:

Philosophy of (social) science, asking research questions, the nature of explanation, theory building, descriptive and causal inference

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning


Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
discussion; active/task-based learning; peer and group work; reflective learning; critical writing 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Social Science Methodology (CSSL50020)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Literature review Week 8 n/a Graded No


Essay: Research proposal Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Active participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Peer review of three research proposals Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided to students within 20 working days of the deadline for the assignment in accordance with university policy’

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 16:00 - 17:50