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Political Research Design


Admission requirements

  • Academic Writing


Political Research Design is a practical course introducing students to the key considerations for designing a research project. Knowledge from this course will be directly relevant for successful advancement in the capstone process, and will also prepare students for conducting systematic research in further study and when working for employers such as government agencies and research institutes. Research design is a vital and indispensable part of academic work – it is what puts the “science” into social science.

The main approach of this course is to guide students through the successive stages of a research design process: from composing and refining an appropriate research question, to managing the ethical implications of particular research design alternatives, to learning how to justify convincingly any particular method chosen. In the process, students will also grasp the vital relationship between epistemological positions and research designs/outcomes. In short, this course will provide a roadmap of best practices, as well as offer an array of helpful literature, that students can refer to and apply later in their education. It will also help students to critique more astutely the approaches and findings of existing scholarship they encounter in other courses. While there are many fascinating, wide-ranging conceptual debates about each aspect of research design, the emphasis in this course is on those that have direct practical relevance for basic research at the Bachelor level. There is also less focus on specific methods, of which there will only be select examples. Students must supplement the knowledge gained in this course by taking further methodological courses in the WP programme.

Political Research Design is a prerequisite for the capstone, which means that without passing this course, students will not be allowed to enrol in the capstone course.

Course Objectives

In successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

1) Identify the key components of successful research design e.g. appropriate research questions, methodology, ethical concerns and reflexivity of the researcher
2) Compare different research design alternatives and explain their strengths and weaknesses in terms of their impact on findings

1) Design an original research project in accordance with social scientific best practices
2) Summarise, evaluate, and present the strengths and weaknesses of social scientific literature according to best practices


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of 14 sessions and will include a combination of general discussion, in-class tests, and small-group exercises. Course materials, including lectures, will be available on Brightspace. Lectures are provided as 30-50 minutes pre-recorded streams available to view on Brightspace. Please watch these before the session. Participation is important for the vitality and effectiveness of the course, meaning students should come prepared with analytical questions and engage seriously with the ideas of their fellow class mates. Each session has a short list of required and recommended readings. Required readings, like the lectures, are mandatory in order to participate in the seminars; recommended readings offer more depth to the topic and are helpful starting points for the written assignments, but are by no means exhaustive.

Assessment Method

Short draft research proposal (20%)
In-class tests x3 (40%)
Final research proposal (40%)

Reading list

The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Densua Mumford,