Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC2083: The Research Toolkit for Politics and International Relations

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.


NQF Level 5
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Lamprini Rori (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


The first part of the module will introduce you to the fundamentals of research design in political science. It will cover a range of topics, starting from the formulation of research topics and research questions, the development of theory and empirically testable hypotheses, and basic qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques. The module will address a variety of approaches to empirical political science research including ethnography, interviews and focus groups, experimental and quasi-experimental designs, large-n survey research, and mixed-methods approaches. As a result, topics covered in the course will be varied and span all areas of political science including political behavior, international relations institutions, comparative politics, political theory, and public administration. You will be taught collectively by seven members of the department, each addressing both the logic of one or two methods on which they specialize, as well as practical insights drawn from their own research. Through the module you will be taught how to generate your own research questions, design and plan an independent research project, and conduct a literature review.

The second part of the module will train you to design, justify, and plan independent research in International Relations/politics. Conducting research in the field of International Relations poses unique challenges: how do we understand and access ‘the international’? What counts as data? What kind of causal claims can be made? What are the philosophical assumptions that underpin particular research processes, and how do they shape the questions that can be asked and answered? So building on the methods-focussed first term, you will deepen your critical awareness of research practice. The module will begin by introducing the historical context in which methodological and research processes have been debated in International Relations scholarship. You will be introduced to the so-called ‘great debates’ of International Relations, key principles of the philosophy of social science, and the possibilities for pluralist understandings of causality. After this, several staff – experts in their fields – will provide an introduction to their research approach/methods and the philosophical assumptions contained therein. Each staff member will also guide you through an in-depth application of their approach/method in the context of their cutting-edge research.

Through the whole module you will be taught both practical and critical analysis skills in research. You will cover foundational issues in research framings and theories, a range of research tools and methods, generating your own research questions, designing, and planning an independent research project, and conducting a literature review.

While no prior knowledge skills or experience are required to take this module and it is suitable for specialist and non-specialist students.

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