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Durham University

Postgraduate Modules 2019/2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box. Please be aware that modules may change from year to year, and may be amended to take account of, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA48115: EMPIRICAL RESEARCH IN POLITICS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND SECURITY

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None

Aims

  • The module aims to provide an overview of the types of research designs most frequently used in empirical research in politics, international relations and security. It aims to marry the theoretical and conceptual insights of the substantive modules with the generic research skills modules of degree program, focusing explicitly on how to effectively combine theory and empirics in politics, international relations, and security.
  • The module is taught in two blocks, organized around the two main types of research designs: theory-generating (i.e., inductive) and theory-testing (i.e., deductive) research designs.

Content

  • The material considered in each block will include a selection of the following indicative designs:
  • Theory-generating research designs in politics, international relations and security: Ethnography and participant observation, phenomenology, discourse analysis, and case study analysis
  • Theory-testing research designs in politics, international relations and security: Experimental research, quasi-experimental designs, small-N and large-N comparative research, and qualitative and quantitative text analysis

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A sophisticated understanding of the basic principals of research design in the context of politics, international relations and security
  • An advanced knowledge of how to appropriately use different research methods to answer research questions in politics, international relations and security, including their strengths and weaknesses
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to identify different research designs and their key elements in empirical research
  • Critical engagement, assessment and evaluation of different types of research designs and their use
  • The ability to develop an appropriate and effective research design to empirically investigate a specific research question concerning politics, international relations, and security
Key Skills:
  • Effective presentation of scholarly analysis
  • Independent research skills to augment initial guidance on suitable sources
  • Effective assessment of the quality and suitability of empirical scholarly work
  • Demonstrate skills of independent learning through reaching and defending personal intellectual judgments on complex issues

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

  • The module is principally taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Following an initial introductory lecture setting out aims, learning outcomes, teaching, leaning and assessment methods, and an introduction to the basic principals of research design, there will be 8 one-hour lectures, typically four on theory-generating and four on theory-testing research designs. Lectures serve as a means to impart foundational knowledge of specific research designs and how it relates theory and empirics. They provide a basis for further independent studies and seminars. Within a module where students will typically have diverse levels of prior knowledge of research designs, the lectures provide a common body of core knowledge, aimed at facilitating discussions in the seminars and interaction amongst students as part of independent learning. The weekly seminars will discuss scholarly work in politics, international relations, and security that used the research design discussed that week. The seminars serve as a means for students to deepen their understanding of how different research designs are used in scholarly work and learn to critically evaluate the appropriateness and use of particular research designs. Attendance of lectures and participation in seminars is compulsory.
  • In addition, the learning will be supported through academic staff’s regular ‘office hours’. Students will also be able to access members of academic staff through their routine ‘office hours’, typically two hours per week when academic staff are available to meet with students to address individual queries and concerns.
  • The formative assessment consists of the 1,000 word research proposal, focusing on developing a convincing empirical research design on a question of the students choosing, which could be their dissertation research question. While the structure of proposals will differ depending on the type of research design they use, all proposals must clearly state the type of research design they employ, why it is appropriate, and the types of methods used to collect the necessary information. Written feedback will be given on the proposals and lecturers will be available to discuss feedback individually.
  • The summative assessment consists of 4,000 word long essay that discusses and critiques randomly assigned scholarly work from a research design perspective. It will assess whether students are able to identify research design, their key elements, and whether they are able to critically engage and evaluate their us in empirical research in Politics, International Relations and Security Studies. The set of articles, published in international peer-reviewed journals, will be determined by academic staff and is unknown to students. This ensures that discussed research designs equally and do not just students are incentive to engage and pay attention to all focus on the type of design they are most comfortable with. Articles will be randomly assigned at the end of the last lecture.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay - submitted on the first day of the following term 4,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Research design proposal of 1,000 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


    If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our User Guide. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the User Guide, or a query about the Postgraduate Module Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.