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Introduction to Research Design in Political Science (SPOC)



The focus is on introducing students to the fundamentals of research design in political science. Methodologically, we discuss how to design a research project, paying attention to picking a topic and formulating a research question, identifying a gap in the literature, identifying and using theoretical arguments, and research strategies. As part of this online course, students will also learn how to evaluate other research projects and to develop the first outline of a research design at the end of the course.

The course will explain to students the importance of research design to structure a research project. It will also briefly present students to a variety of approaches to empirical political science research including experimental and quasi-experimental designs, quantitative and qualitative methods. As a result, topics introduced in the course will be varied and span all areas of political science including political behaviour, institutions, comparative politics, international relations, and public administration and policies.

Mode of instruction

Online lectures, Online feedback, and Assignments


Maryann Barakso, Daniel M. Sabet, and Brian F. Schaffner, Understanding Political Science Research Methods: The Challenge of Inference (New York: Routledge, 2014).

Assessment method

Multiple choice questions, discussion questions and peer review, and a final Research Design outline written assignment.


Registration for the SPOC:

  • Students who have been assigned to this course by the Admission Committee, will be registered by the SSC in July/December 2021.

  • Students who want to take this course on a voluntary basis in semester 1 can register through uSis via study activity number 7691 (6444RDPSW) from 16 July 13:00h.

  • Students who want to take this course on a voluntary basis in semester 2 can register through uSis via study activity number 22444 (6444RDPSW) from 16 December 13:00h.


Students that take the SPOC will use Brightspace as their digital community.