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International Relations and Diplomacy Master Thesis Lab


This thesis laboratory is designed to help IRD students to draft a clear and useable proposal for their research thesis. The course covers major issues in writing a research proposal, including how to craft a good research question, how to conduct an effective literature review, how to define concepts, variables and hypotheses, and how to select an appropriate empirical methodology. A satisfactory thesis proposal is expected from all students as the final result of the course.

Methods of Instruction
The course involves three learning mechanisms: (1) lecture, (2) practice: every student will submit draft pieces of their thesis proposal on a regular basis, and (3) peer review: every student will read and discuss other students’ drafts, with input from the professor.

Study Material
There are no required readings for this course. However, short readings are provided as references for the topics and assignments. These are drawn from the first two sources listed below. The other sources on research design and thesis writing listed below may also be useful for you. For references on particular research methods, consult the reading lists from your previous classes.

  • USC Guide to Writing a Social Science Research Paper:

  • Stephen Van Evera (1997). Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Cornell Univ Press

  • Thomas Gschwend and Frank Schimmelfennig, eds. (2007). Research Design in Political Science: How to Practice What They Preach. Palgrave Macmillan (paperback in 2011)

  • John Biggam (2008). Succeeding with your Master’s Dissertation: A Step-by-step Handbook, 2nd ed. Open Univ Press

  • Jill K. Jeeson, Lydia Matheson, Fiona M. Lacey (2011). Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques. Sage

  • Patrick Dunleavy (2003). Authoring a PhD: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Thesis or Dissertation. Palgrave Macmillan

Grades will be based on attendance and informed participation (15%), plus timely submission of a draft research question (15%), literature review (15%), analytical framework (15%), statement of research methodology (15%), and complete research proposal (25%). Given the small number of sessions, all students are expected to attend every session: absences will only be excused with clear evidence of circumstances beyond the student’s control.

Wednesday 5 February until 26 March, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 1A45