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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2021-2022

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA1201: RESEARCHING POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2021/22 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to L200 Politics
Tied to L202 Politics (Year Abroad)
Tied to L250 International Relations
Tied to LMV0 Combined Honours in Social Sciences
Tied to LA01 Liberal Arts

Prerequisites

  • None.

Corequisites

  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None

Aims

  • To introduce students to a range of strategies used to produce knowledge in politics and international relations.
  • To help students develop a critical appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of research methods.
  • To enable students to gain some practical experience of carrying out selected parts of the process of doing research in politics and international relations.
  • To introduce students to ethical issues embedded in research.
  • To encourage students to consider the relationship between evidence and theory.

Content

  • The first block of lectures and seminars, delivered in the first term, will introduce students to some of the basic issues involved in doing research in politics and international relations.
  • We will consider the relevance of 'scientific method' to social research, and consider questions of how research can show what it claims to show.
  • We will also examine several qualitative methods for collecting and analysing data about politics and international relations.
  • The second block of lectures and seminars, delivered in term two, will focus on quantitative research methods in politics and international relations.
  • We will examine how concepts can be operationalised and how issues of measurement can be addressed.
  • We will practice carrying out some basic statistical analyses of quantitative data.
  • We will consider how to understand and interpret results commonly encountered in published politics and international relations research.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having completed this module, students will:
  • have an understanding of the concept of evidence in social science, and of the relationship between evidence and theory.
  • have an awareness of the different approaches to the empirical study of politics and international relations.
  • have an awareness of the issues involved in the collection and interpretation of different types of evidence, specific to research in politics and international relations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Having completed this module, students will:
  • be able to identify appropriate strategies for the generation of specific kinds of knowledge.
  • be able to review and evaluate qualitative evidence in politics and international relations;
  • be able to review and evaluate quantitative evidence in politics and international relations;
  • be able to produce reasoned social scientific arguments on the basis of evidence.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will be able to demonstrate:
  • an ability to frame research issues and problems;
  • an ability to interpret and evaluate qualitative empirical evidence;
  • an ability to undertake and interpret basic statistical analyses;
  • an ability to construct reasoned arguments;
  • basic written communication skills;
  • basic learning and study skills;
  • an ability to plan and manage time effectively.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The lectures for this module will:
  • outline the character of research in politics and international relations, and the link between evidence and theory
  • outline different methods for qualitative research in politics and international relations
  • outline basic tools for quantitative data analysis in politics and international relations
  • present competing views on knowledge-production and evidence assessment;
  • highlight the importance of, and the means toward, evaluating evidence;
  • The seminars will incorporate practical exercises which will enable students to develop skills in carrying out selected parts of the research process, and in interpreting and evaluating evidence;
  • equip students with the means to be able to identify appropriate research strategies;
  • enable the development of verbal communication skills through small group and class discussion;
  • foster a number of key skills, including information-gathering and retrieval, critical reading and evaluation, making reasoned arguments, based on available evidence.
  • The formative assessment requires students to demonstrate both specific skills in knowing and understanding the themes of the module and broader skills in written communication;
  • require skills in gathering information, assessing evidence and critical reading;
  • require students to demonstrate specific skills in qualitative and quantitative methods
  • will be returned to students with feedback designed to help students to reflect on their knowledge and understanding, and to improve their performance where appropriate.
  • The summative essay requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of qualitative research methods by critically evaluating a published study.
  • The summative data analysis exercise and report for this module:
  • requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of quantitative research methods, and to apply their practical skills in basic data analysis, by carrying out an analysis of quantitative data and writing up the results in the form of a report.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 11 Distributed appropriatley accross all terms 1 hour 11
Seminars 8 fortnightly in terms 1 and 2 1 hour 8
Practicals 5 Distributed appropriatley accross all terms 2 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 171
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,000 words 100% August
Component: Data analysis and report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Data analysis exercise and report 2,000 words 100% August

Formative Assessment:

One essay of 2,000 words. One data analysis exercise of 2,000 words


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University



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