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Political Research Design




Admissions requirements

Introduction to International Relations (100 level) and Introduction to Global and Transnational Politics (100 level) classes and/or Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (100 level) or equivalent courses.


The main objective of this course is to introduce students to basic research design features that are applied in Politics Science and International Relations. Doing so, the course will help you to understand the epistemological and ontological concerns scholars have, the different methodological factions that developed in Politics Science and International Relations, and the most common methods that are applied in these disciplines. On a more abstract level, you will learn about the relationship between theory, methods and methodology, and how their relationship impacts on research design. There are however, practical aspect of research design that you will also learn such as data collection, data analysis and research ethic. In short, after completing the course you will be able to read scholarly work in a different way, and to conduct research projects.

This course is based on book project that I am currently working on: Theories and Methods in International Relations (Palgrave). 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 in general.

Course objectives

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

1) understand fundamental research design features that are applied in World Politics.
2) appreciate the relationship between theory, method and methodology;
3) able to think critically about methodological distinctions and their relevance for topics and puzzles in World Politics;
4) recognise the relevance of different theoretical and methodological approaches to specific research questions and practices of research;
5) develop research skills to be able to evaluate evidence-based arguments; methodologically sound studies and to conduct your own research;
6) able to write a research proposal.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

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.


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

  1. In-class participation (5%)
  2. Précis: (19%)
  3. Group presentation (16%)
  4. Research Proposal (30%)
  5. Final exam (30%)


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 literature:

  • Vivien Lowndes, David Marsh and Gerry Stoker (2018) Theory and Methods in Political Science (Political Analysis), Basingstoke: Palgrave

  • Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steven Smith (2016) International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Recommended readings:

  • Jonathon Moses and Torbjørn Knutsen (2012) Ways of Knowing: Competing Methodologies in Social and Political Research. London: Palgrave – for a basic introduction to the topic in an easy read format

  • Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth A. Simmons (2012) Handbook of International Relations. London: Sage

  • Martin Hollis and Steve Smith (1981) Explaining and Understanding International Relations. Oxford: Clarendon Press

  • Steven Smith, Ken Booth and Marysia Zalewski (2009) International Theory: Positivism and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

  • Gary King, Robert O. Keohane and Sidney Verba (1994) Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. New Jersey: Princeton University Press
    Norman Blaikie (2009) Designing Social Research. London: Polity Press


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


Dr Beatrix Futak-Campbell