BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
How to Conduct Politics Research

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI20902
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


A topic of student's own choosing that is related to at least one of his/her second or first year politics (POLI) course units


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Introduction to International Politics POLI10601 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Introduction to Political Theory POLI10702 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Introduction to Comparative Politics POLI10201 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Introduction to Comparative Politics POLI10202 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
POLI20900 Co- and Pre requisits


This course allows students to develop their research skills with the aim of writing a 4000-4550 word research project. It builds on modules offered in year one (Making Sense of Politics and Study Skills), and will prepare students for their third year dissertations. Students will exercise some intellectual independence and will be provided with an opportunity to investigate the benefits and drawback of different research methods and sources in a rigorous manner.

Students will learn the main elements of research design and how to set up and conduct an independent research project. Through large group lectures and smaller tutorials students will be exposed to a selection of theoretical and methodological approaches as well as different primary and secondary sources employed by scholars of Politics. Tutorials will be specifically employed to debate and discuss the different elements of research design and practice using and assess different sources and methods.

Midway through the course the students will be asked to select one question out of a set list of possible topics covering a wide range of themes. They will write a short rationale for selecting the question, its significance for the study of politics and the type of research method, sources and analysis they intend to employ. Students will also write a short annotated bibliography that will help them write the literature review in the final assignment.


For their final assignment students will write an extended analytical research essay exploring how best to design a research project answering their chosen question. They will be asked to include a literature review discussing the different approaches/perspectives on the topic and will assess how to navigate this debate. Students will then choose a methodological approach and explain how and why they made this choice (why this is the best manner in which to answer their chosen question) and will also address why other approaches are less useful. Students will identify relevant sources (such as documents and reports, media sources, video interviews, surveys and primary texts and consider their inclusion in a research project. They may make some preliminary conclusions.


At the end of the module students will complete a short, twenty question multiple choice quiz on blackboard. The quiz covers key elements of each lecture and is worth 10% of the overall mark.

Learning outcomes

Student should/will

Develop a deeper understanding of the various methodological approaches in politics and a better understanding of the drawbacks and benefits of these approaches and of different sources used in research analysis.

Develop their ability to assess, contrast and compare primary and secondary sources used for independent research.

Develop their analytical skills including an ability to assess, contrast and compare primary and secondary sources used for independent research.

Develop communication skills including an ability to effectively articulate coherent, critically-informed analysis to a small and larger groups as well as the ability to interact with colleagues in a constructive manner.

Develop their writing skills including an ability to express concise, logical arguments in written form.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

The module encourages the development of research skills as well as transferable skills such as time management, problem solving and other organizational skills. These skills help develop the students’ CVs with the view to increase their employability in a wide range of careers.

Employability skills

Problem solving
Time management and organisational skills

Assessment methods

Final Project: 4,000 - 4,550 word worth 65%

Question selection assignment and annotated bibliography:1,500-1,750 words (no 10% leeway) due in week 5 worth 25%

Quiz: 10%

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission.

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be more informal and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Thomas, Gary. 2013.How to Do Your Research Project: A Guide for Students in Education and Applied Social Sciences. Second Edition edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Gschwend, Thomas, and Frank Schimmelfennig. 2007.Research Design in Political Science: How to Practice What They Preach. Palgrave Macmillan.

King, Gary, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba. 1994.Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton; Chichester: Princeton University Press.

Ragin, Charles C. 1989.The Comparative Method: Moving beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies. University of California.

Rossi, Peter H., James D. Wright, and Andy B. Anderson. 2013.Handbook of Survey Research. Academic Press.


Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Louise Thompson Unit coordinator

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