MA Political Science - European Politics & Policy Pathway (Research Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Dissertation Research Design

Unit code POLI60312
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit forms an integral part of all MA programmes offered by Politics. It builds on the critical understanding of theories and research methodologies employed in the field of political science and international politics.



The aims of this module are:

  • To develop a critical understanding of the processes involved in designing an advanced level research project in politics
  • To support students in developing, researching and writing up their own original research proposal, with a topic that is viable for a Masters level dissertation
  • To provide opportunities for students to critically apply their knowledge of political science theory and research methodologies in evaluating a range of research  proposals developed by current and past MA students
  • To encourage students to engage, more broadly, in active learning and to reflect on and identify their further intellectual development and training needs

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will:

  • Have identified a suitable MA dissertation topic and research question and held a preliminary meeting with their dissertation supervisor
  • Have written up a detailed research proposal, formulating a plan for completing their MA dissertation
  • Have further developed, in completing these tasks, a range of practical and transferable skills in bibliographic and information location and retrieval; communication and presentation; time management and planning; and have engaged with ethical considerations in research
  • Have further developed their ability to lead, participate in and sustain collective learning through group discussion

Teaching and learning methods

There will be one introductory lecture on how to design and write a successful MA dissertation, followed by two seminar sessions focusing on key questions of research process and methodology. After meeting with their dissertation supervisor in week four, another lecture type session will be organized to address any further questions concerning research design and theoretical/analytical/methodological issues. The final five seminars will be devoted to student presentations of their own research proposals, offering the chance for students to receive feedback on their work from the rest of their seminar group.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 15%
Written assignment (inc essay) 65%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%

2600-word dissertation proposal (65%); presentation (20%); participation (15%).

Recommended reading

Preliminary reading

Thomas, Gary. 2017. How to Do your Research Project: A Guide for Students. 3d edition.


Recommended readings

Alvesson, M. and Sholdberg, K. (2010) Reflexive Methodology: New Visions for Qualitative Research. Sage: London.

Burnham, Peter & K. Gilland, W. Grant, Z. Layton-Henry (2008) Research Methods in Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (2nd edn).

Dolowitz, David & S. Buckler, F. Sweeney (2008) Researching Online. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Harrison, Lisa (2001) Political Research: An Introduction London: Routledge

Landman, Todd (2000) Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction London: Routledge.

Marsh, David & G. Stoker (2010) Theory and Methods in Political Science Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (3rd edn).

Rudestam, Kjell Erik. and Newton, R. (2007), Surviving your Dissertation: a comprehensive guide to content and process, London: Sage.

Bailey, Kenneth D. (1994) Methods of Social Research, 4th Edition, NY: Free Press.

Becker, Howards S. (1986) Writing for Social Scientists: how to start and finish your thesis, book or article. London: University of Chicago Press.

Bernstein, Robert A. & Dyer, J.A. (1992), An Introduction to Political Science Methods, 3rd Edition, Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Hart, Chris (1998), Doing a Literature Review: releasing the social science research imagination, London: Sage.

Manheim, Jarol Bruce and Rich, R.C. (1991), Empirical Political Analysis: research methods in political science, London: Longman.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elena Barabantseva Unit coordinator
Andreja Zevnik Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Introductory Lectures
Monday Week 1

Seminar Groups (Week 2 & 4-9)

Please note that all students must attend the introductory lecture in the first week of teaching.  From week 2 onwards, students will then be split into  smaller seminar groups depending on your programme, and must attend only one of these seminar groups every week.


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