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Academic Skills: Research Design


Academic Skills: Research Design

Please note: a lecture will take place on Monday 6 September 2021, 11:15-13:00 (room Wijnhaven 2.02). The working groups start as of Tuesday 7 and/or Wednesday 8 September (see MyTimetable for actual schedules).

Description Skills in year 2

In Year 2 of the bachelor’s programme, students are offered two academic skills courses of 5 ECTS each.

1. Semester 1 (block 1 and block 2)

Research Design: How do I develop a research design? (5 ECTS)

2. Semester 2 (block 3 and block 4)

Data Analysis: How do I conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis? (5 ECTS)

These courses build on the academic skills courses of Year 1, and allow students to practise the academic skills required to successfully complete the BSc in Political Science/ International Relations and Organisations. These courses teach students to apply their knowledge and understanding, form judgments, and communicate their findings.
These skills are practised and deepened in workgroups and through an online learning environment. The courses build upon one another. Ideally, students successfully complete the Research Design course before participating in the Data Analysis course. However, this is not compulsory.
During these courses students will practise designing, conducting and reporting political science research as preparation for writing a bachelor’s thesis in Year 3. The Research Design course has to be completed successfully before students can participate in a Bachelor project.

Semester 1: Research Design

The main objective of the Research Design course is to teach students how to write a literature review on a specific political science topic, including a relevant and researchable research question. Students select one topic out of several set political science themes. They then read the assigned literature and use it to independently look for additional academic literature. Based on this literature, they write a literature review that contains a research question. This research question is the starting point for the development of a theoretical framework. Moreover, the main factors contained in the research question have to be conceptualised. The literature review and theoretical framework are used as the starting point for the Data analysis course. An additional objective of this course is to train students in academic writing.

Course objectives

Objective 1: Students have knowledge about and insight into the criteria for a sound literature review, research question and theoretical framework.
Objective 2: Students are able to perform a literature study leading to a literature review, research question and a theoretical framework.
Objective 3: Students gain experience with conducting a research project over a sustained time period. Working independently, time management and taking responsibility for the development of the project are central to this experience.

Mode of instruction

Lecture during week 1, weekly workgroups, and individual meetings with instructor
Digital learning environment

Assessment method

Written assignments
Participation grade

Reading list

Halperin, S. & Heath, O. (2020). Political research: Methods and practical skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This book is used during the Research Methods in Political Science course as well.
See the full course syllabus for other literature.


See 'Practical Information'.




Ellen van Reuler: