Prospectus

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Theories & Methods: for students starting in February

Course 2010-2011

Course Description

The goal of this course is to help students develop the skills that are necessary to evaluate existing research and to design and carry out their own empirical research projects, in particular an MA thesis. The course assumes basic familiarity with research methods and statistics. It will help students to develop broad analytical skills and provide them with the tools to test falsifiable hypotheses with empirical evidence.

The course will focus on the following aspects: Identifying research questions that can be answered using standard methods of research; Finding theoretical literature on the topic of research; Establishing the relevance of research questions for theory and society; Thinking in terms of causal relationships between variables; Developing hypotheses concerning the relationship between variables that are based on the theoretical literature; Understanding the principles that relate to the support or rejection of hypotheses and theories; Being able to present hypotheses and findings in a coherent and comprehensible manner; Presenting a written work that satisfies the criteria required in scientific publications, including proper citation and bibliographical forms. Finally, the course will also cover some basic descriptive and inferential statistics.

Literature

Kenneth Hoover & Todd Donovan (2008) The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking, ninth edition, Wadsworth.

A selection of articles (announced on Blackboard).

Examination

Students will be evaluated on the basis of the weekly assignments and/or a research proposal to be handed in at the conclusion of the course.

Schedule

Tuesday 29 March from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 5 April from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 12 April from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 19 April from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 26 April from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 3 May from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 10 May from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 17 May from 20.15- 22.00