SSST Subjects

PS220  Research Methods


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BA in Political Science and International Relations

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications



Module Code



Module coordinator

Dr Sabina Čehajić-Clancy


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • This course aims to familiarize students with the range of methodological approaches used in the study of politics today.
  • The course illustrates the importance of knowing why scholars approach problems and issues of social and political interest in particular ways, and how this can (and does) have a fundamental effect on the conclusions that they come to.
  • The course challenges students to identify important relationships between different phenomena, and ask how one may go about measuring and analysing them.
  • By the end of this course, students should have an enhanced understanding of what scientific research is, how social/political scholars conduct their research and how they reach conclusions that they do.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Introduction: What is scientific research?

  • Research Process and Designs

  • Research Ethics

  • Introduction to Qualitative Methods: Interviewing

  • Introduction to Content Analysis

  • Focus Group Discussions

  • Observation and Case-Study

  • Documentary and Archival Analysis

  • Introduction to Quantative Methods: variables, scales, and sampling

  • Questionnaire Surveys and Experiments

  • Data Organization

  • Descriptive Statistics: central tendencies and distribution

  • Correlation

  • Making Inferences (normal distribution)

  • Review of the course


Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 40 1 hour 40
Tutorials 40 1 hour 40
Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours 70
Total Contact Hours 80
Total Engagement Hours 150

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline

Final Exam


3 hours


Week 17/18

Mid-semester test

1 2 hours 10% Week 8

Research Report




By week 15

Writing an interview report


1000 words


By week 6

SPSS Report: presenting data


500 words


By week 12


Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand and apply research design in practice

  • Acquire knowledge on various qualitative and quantitative methods.

  • Critical analysis of (dis)advantages of various research methods.

  • Ability to design various research instruments.

  • Acquire some basic statistical skills.

  • Learn how to conduct research effectively and develop essential academic skills

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures (ILO: 1-6);

  • Course readings and class discussions (ILO: 1-6);

  • Individual consultancy with students as needed (including detailed feedback on their work) (ILO: 4-6).

Assessment Strategy:

  • Course work –mid-term exam (10%), research report (30%), interview report (5%) and SPSS report (5%) (ILO: 1-6)

  • Final Exam – 50% (ILO: 1-3,5)

Practical Skills:

  • Ability to interpret statistical data for research

  • Ability to design research instruments

  • Utilise varied resources for specialised research

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Individual consultancy (PS: 1-2)

  • Individual assignments (PS: 1-2)

  • Lectures (PS: 1-3)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Individual assignments (PS: 1-2)

  • Research report (PS: 2,3)

Transferable Skills:

  • Ability to think analytically

  • Clear presentation skills

  • Academic report writing skills

  • Communication skills

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Class discussions. (TS: 1-2)

  • In-class presentations (TS: 1-4)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Research report (TS: 1,3)

  • Individual assignments (TS: 1-4)


Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Burnham, Gilland, Grant, Layton-Henry (2008). Research Methods in Politics. Palgrave Macmillan.

Supplementary Materials

  • Berg, B., (2013). Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Pearson

  • Graziano, A., Raulin, R., (2009). Research Methods: A Process of Inquiry. Pearson

  • Bell, J., (2010). Doing Your Research Project. Open University Press.

  • Manheim, J., et al, (2010). Empirical Political Analysis: Quantative and Qualitative Research Methods. Pearson

  • Phillips Shively, W., (2012). The Craft of Political Research. Pearson Prentice Hall.

  • Babbie, E., (2012). The practice of Social Research. Cengage Learning.

  • Gravetter, J., Forzano (2011). Research Methods for the behavioral sciences. Cengage Learning

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date approved by School Board of Study :  

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date of Annual Review:  


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