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Political Research Methods




Admissions requirements

None, but Introduction to International Relations & Diplomacy and Introduction to Globalization and Transnational Politics are recommended.


The main objective of this course is to introduce students to the relationship between the theories and methods used to study international politics, and to explore how the notion of methodology fits into this relationship. In short, this course will provide you with a basic knowledge of research methods in order for you to understand epistemological and ontological concerns scholars have, and to appreciate different methodological factions that developed in Politics. It also familiarises you with practical skills, such as research design, data collection and analysis, and with research ethic to allow you to conduct research projects and also to read and evaluate research papers critically.

This course is based on book project that I am currently working on titled: Theories and Methods in International Relations (IR). You will all discover throughout the course that a lot of the IR scholarship is located in the discipline of Political Science and Social Science.

Course objectives

The module is aims to provide a critical examination of research method methods. In successfully completing this course, you will:

  • understand the relationship between theories and methods, and key concepts relating to both;

  • able to think critically about methodological distinctions and their relevance for research related to studying Politics;

  • recognise the relevance of different theoretical and methodological approaches to specific research questions and practices of research;

  • develop research skills to conduct and to be able to evaluate evidence-based arguments and methodologically sound studies;

  • able to write a research proposal.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. During the course of the seminar students are expected to take part in both in the seminar discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group presentations. The role of the course instructor is to ensure the efficient running of the discussion.


Four elements of coursework constitute the final mark for the course:

  1. In-class participation (5%)
  2. Précis: 10 précis each worth 3% (30%)
  3. Group presentation (10%)
  4. Research Proposal (30%)
  5. Final exam (25%)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Compulsory readings:

David Marsh and Gerry Stoker (2010) Theory and Methods in Political Science (Political Analysis), Basingstoke: Palgrave

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steven Smith (2013) International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Recommended readings:

Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth A. Simmons (2004) Handbook of International Relations, London: Sage

Martin Hollis and Steve Smith (1991) Explaining and Understanding International Relations. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Steven Smith, Ken Booth and Marysia Zalewski (1996) International Theory: Positivism and Beyond, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

G. King, R. O. Keohane and S. Verba (1994) Designing Social Inquiry, New Jersey: Princeton University Press


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Beatrix Futak-Campbell


Weekly Overview

PART I: Theory and Methodology

  • Theory

  • Methodology

PART II: Methods

  • Cases Study Approaches: Single Case Study

  • Cases Study Approaches: Comparative Case Study

  • Cases Study Approaches: Statistical Analysis

  • Discursive Approaches

  • Ethnographic Approaches

  • Visual Approaches

PART III: Research Design

  • Research Ethics

  • Data Collection

  • Data Analysis

  • Research Design