SSST Subjects

PS 420 Thesis Research and Design


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BSc in Political Science and International Relations

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications

Yes PS220


Module Code

PS 420


Module coordinator

Dr Sabina Čehajić - Clancy


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • This module is for the fourth or final year undergraduate students who plan to write a diploma (undergraduate) thesis in political science and/or related disciplines. This is required of all students taking political science as their major.
  • During this module, students will develop their research topics, review relevant research and literature, frame their research questions and arguments, choose an appropriate methodology for analysis, draft the introductory and methodology sections of their thesis, and write a complete prospectus of the thesis project.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • What is scientific research?
  • Research Process and Design
  • Operationalisation, Variables, Scales of Measurement
  • Writing research proposals
  • Primary vs. secondary types of data
  • Data analyses: quantative vs. qualitative
  • Importance of interdisciplinary investigations
  • Presentations of students’ research proposals

Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 30 1 hour per session 30 hours
Tutorials 30 1 hour per session 30 hours
Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours 90
Total Contact Hours 60
Total Engagement Hours 150

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline
Assignment + Quiz 1 4,000 words 50% Week 15
Mid-term exam 1 2 hours 20% Week 8
Test 1 1 hour 15% Week 3
Final Exam 1 1500 words 15% Week 6

Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and acquisition regarding scientific research.
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage own learning and make use of scholarly material for the purpose of research design.
  • Highlight key elements and processes of social research such as operationalisation, variables, sampling and research ethics.
  • Develop research topics, questions and critical arguments for final thesis.
  • Write a complete proposal of the thesis project.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures (ILO: 1-4)
  • Class discussions (ILO: 3-4)
  • Independent learning and guided study (ILO: 2-4)
  • Individual consultancy with students as needed (including detailed feedback on their work) (ILO: 1-4)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Module work –mid-term exam and two assignments (ILO: 1-6)
  • Final Thesis Draft (ILO: 1-6)

Practical Skills:

  • Ability to effectively review literature for research purposes
  • Ability to develop research questions and arguments
  • Ability to select appropriate methodology
  • Ability to analyse academic issues in a critical and independent manner.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Individual consultancy (PS: 1-4)
  • Individual assignments (PS: 1-4)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Individual presentation (PS: 1,4)
  • Final Thesis Draft (PS:1-4)

Transferable Skills:

  • Communicating academic insights in a clear and informed manner.
  • Engage in discussion with different viewpoints
  • Clarity of oral and written presentation.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Class discussions. (TS: 1-3)
  • Lectures (TS: 1)
  • In-class presentations (TS: 1-3)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Mid-term exam and two assignments (TS: 1-3)
  • Final Thesis Draft (TS: 1-3)

Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Judith Bell (2014). Doing Your Research Project. 6 Edition. Open University Press.

Supplementary Resources

  • Gerring, J. (2011).
  • Graziano, A. & Raulin M. L. (2013).
  • Madsen, D. (1991). Successful Dissertations and Theses: A Guide to Graduate Student Research from Proposal to Completion
  • Mann, T. (2015). The Oxford Guide to Library Research. 4 Edition, Oxford University Press, USA
  • O’Leary, Z., (2013), The Essential Guide to Doing your Research Project, Sage Publications
  • Ridley, D., (2012),
  • The Open University, (2016), Writing your Thesis, [online], (Accessed 11 July 2016) Turabian, K., (2013), A manual for writers of research papers, theses and dissertations, 8th

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 : November 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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