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Methods in International Relations Research


Admission requirements

Compulsory course for all MA International Relations Students. Only students who have been admitted to the MA International Relations, track International Studies can attend this course.


What are the central ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues in international relations (International Studies and European Union Studies)? How might these issues influence my research? What are the key qualitative methodologies I can use to measure developments in international relations? What are the limitations of these methodologies? How do I use qualitative and quantitative data in my research? These are the kinds of questions MA students often pose regarding using methods in International Relations research. This course is designed to provide answers to these questions and to broaden students’ methodological skill sets.
This course begins by focusing on why we need methods in International Relations, the benefits and limitations of theory and critical epistemological approaches. This opening section engages with some of the central ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues in International Relations. In the subsequent sessions, students will consider how to use qualitative and quantitative data in their research and take six qualitative methodology classes where the emphasis will be placed on a ‘hands on’ approach to applying methods in International Relations. In these qualitative methodology sessions, we will focus on: Archival Research, Content and Psychological Analysis, Interviews and Ethnography, Legal Approaches, Discourse Analysis, and Process Tracing.

Course objectives

The purpose of the course is to develop students’ knowledge of and ability to apply appropriate methodologies in International Relations (International Studies and European Union Studies) research. In particular, students will:
• Understand central ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues in International Relations and how these influence research.
• Understand how to use and apply qualitative and quantitative data in research.



Mode of instruction

Lectures and Seminars

Course Load

  • 12*1,5 hour Lectures (18 hours)
    • 12*1 hour Seminars (12 hours)
    • Complete readings and contribute to web posts, and seminar discussions every week (70 hours)
    • Analytical Assignment Presentation (15 hours)
    • Analytical Assignment End Term Paper (25 hours)

Assessment method

  • Participation and attendance – 30%
    • Analytical Assignment Presentation – 30%
    • Analytical Assignment End Term Paper – 40%

The resit for the final examined element is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (PowerPoints, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

  • George, A. and Bennett, A. 2005. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge MA: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
    • Klotz, A. and Prakash, D. Eds. 2008. Qualitative Methods in International Relations, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, MacMillan.
    • Trachtenberg, M. 2006. The Craft of International History – a guide to method. Princeton and Oxford: PUP.


Students can sign up to the class via USiS.


Dr.L.O. Black