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Academic Skills: Research Design


Academic Skills: Research Design

Please note: a lecture will take place on Tuesday 1 September 2020, 11:15-13:00 (online). This (mandatory) meeting replaces the first work group sessions of that week. Work groups start in week 37 (as of Monday 7 September 2020).


In Year 2 of the bachelor’s programme, students are offered two academic skills courses of 5 ECTS each.

1. Semester 1 (block 1 and block 2)

Research Design: How do I develop a research design? (5 ECTS)

2. Semester 2 (block 3 and block 4)

Data Analysis: How do I conduct qualitative and quantitative analysis? (5 ECTS)

These courses build on the academic skills courses of Year 1, and invite students to practise the academic skills required to successfully complete the BSc in Political Science/ International Relations and Organisations. At the core, these courses teach students to apply their knowledge and understanding, form judgments, and communicate their findings.
These skills are practised and deepened in workgroups and through an online learning environment. The courses build upon one another. Ideally, students should successfully complete the Research Design course before participating in the Data Analysis course. However, this is not compulsory.
The overall objective is for students to practise designing, conducting and reporting political science research as preparation for writing a bachelor’s thesis in Year 3. The Research Design course has to be completed successfully before students can participate in a Bachelor project.

Semester 1: Research Design

The main objective of the Research Design course is to teach students to collect academic literature on a specific political science topic in the form of a literature review, including a relevant and researchable research question. Students select one topic out of several set political science themes. They then read the assigned literature and use it to independently look for additional academic literature. Based on this literature, they write a literature review that contains a research question. This research question is the starting point for the development of a theoretical framework. Moreover, the main factors contained in the research question have to be conceptualised. The literature review and theoretical framework are used as the starting point for the Data analysis course. An additional objective of this course is to train students in academic writing.

Course objectives

Objective 1: Acquire knowledge and understanding of the criteria for a sound research design in the political sciences.
Objective 2: Perform a literature study leading to a literature review culminating in a research design.

Mode of instruction

Lecture during week 1, followed by weekly workgroups and individual meetings with tutor
Digital learning environment

Assessment method

Written assignments
Participation grade

Reading list

Halperin, S. & Heath, O. (2020). Political research: Methods and practical skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This book is used during the Research Methods in Political Science course as well.
See the full course syllabus for other literature.


See general information on tab 'Year 2'




Ellen van Reuler: