Surrey University Stag

APPROACHES TO RESEARCH - 2022/3

Module code: POL2027

Module Overview

In this class, we build on students’ understanding of research skills introduced at Level 1. We investigate in depth the basic assumptions that inform social scientific research including philosophical issues such as the source of knowledge in social science. We will review different quantitative and qualitative methodologies employed in political science such as experiments, surveys, interviews, focus groups, content analysis, document analysis, discourse analysis, ethnographic research, case studies and comparative analysis, and practice on designing solid research projects that will require application of one of the above methods to solve a specific political puzzle. The development of skills around these methods can help you with future modules and assignments, but beyond they can help you develop a set of skills for employment, raising your awareness on global and cultural issues of interest, and help you understand how we can become resilient researchers who understand how to find solutions to problems and real-life tasks.

 

Module provider

Politics

Module Leader

EXADAKTYLOS Theofanis (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: X210

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 3

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 6

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

The module introduces students to the research process and the methodological and research design approaches and techniques we use in Politics and International Relations to tackle local, national, and global social and political phenomena, which relates to the development of a set of research skills relevant to careers in politics and beyond.

 

To that end, we talk about the philosophy of science to understand what constitutes good research and good practices, with the aim to formulate a research proposal on a topic of your choice by understanding the key ingredients to a good research proposal: (1) Formulating research questions and building hypotheses (2) Understanding the gains of methods and techniques (3) convincing audiences that you can tackle and carry out research problems of any kind.

The module introduces you to a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches: Experimental design, Surveys and Public Opinion Polls, Comparative methodology, Content analysis, Documentary and Archive Analysis, Elite interviewing, Participant observation, Focus Groups, Discourse analysis, Ethnographic research. You will delve into these methods more in other research methods modules, but also in the context of the assignments in any module within the upper levels of your study in Politics and International Relations, also applying the principles to a Dissertation project should you choose to do one.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test TAKE-HOME QUIZ 25
Coursework RESEARCH PROPOSAL OUTLINE (500 WORDS) 15
Coursework RESEARCH PROPOSAL (2500 WORDS) 60

Alternative Assessment

N/A  

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the development of knowledge, research skills, their global mindset, their resilience and resourcefulness in tackling real-life problems in politics and international relations.


  • Mid-term quiz: You will demonstrate your fundamental knowledge of the class material, ensuring that you are on the same page in terms of your progress; to reflect on your own learning and make use of the reading material; consolidate knowledge through short-answer questions and multiple choice questions.

  • Research proposal outline: You will make a first attempt to formulate a solid research question on a topic of your choice; identify relevant theoretical frameworks and schools of thought; critically apply their perception on the needs of a research project; evaluate different research approaches and their relevance to your research question; deploy a range of research skills; access relevant material to extract information; understand the research process strategy.

  • Research proposal: Based on feedback on your outline, you will apply that in your final research proposal; reflect on their own performance, assess and constructively incorporate previous feedback; identify relevant literature that supports their choice of method; identify, investigate, analyse and project different research strategies; adopt a proactive approach to understanding the implications of the research process; demonstrate a range or research skills. The purpose of the research proposal is to demonstrate that you can convince someone to support your proposed research by showing that you have thought of advantages, disadvantages, potential pitfalls and caveats, workarounds and solutions .



Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • A mid-term quiz in the middle of the term, unseen and taken online. It is 40 minutes long and assesses knowledge of the material of the previous lectures through short-answer questions and multiple choice questions.

  • A research proposal outline of 500 words on a topic of your own choice that forms the basis of the research proposal—as outlined in the handbook.

  • A research proposal of 2500 words that incorporates a revised version of the outline above in addition to expanding on the research methods and research design components.



 

Assessment deadlines to be confirmed in the module handbook.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive regular feedback on their knowledge of the module material through the quiz, and feedback on the development of their skills through the additional workshops spread throughout the term. Feedback on the first assignment will be used in the final research proposal. Seminars will be an opportunity to discuss additional feedback and provide peer review to the students’ work, through e.g. oral presentations and group work.

Module aims

  • Identifying research questions in research articles and structuring your own research questions based on any issue of interest around politics and international relations
  • Establishing the relevance of research questions for theory and society;
  • Searching and integrating theoretical literature to a research question
  • Engaging with a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods, linked to previous modules and their applicability to future modules and beyond in the workplace
  • Developing testable hypotheses and understanding the principles that relate to hypothesis testing
  • Learning to incorporate feedback into an improved, revised version of a research proposal, justifying choices on the basis of proposed evidence
  • Producing written work that satisfies the criteria required in scientific publications, including proper citation and bibliographical references.
  • To gauge how we can research different questions applying global and cultural diversity, demonstrating resilience and resourcefulness, thinking about sustainability in the research process and developing skills that support employability

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Have an understanding of research processes with the aims to develop skills for employment, raise cultural and global awareness, impact of research on sustainability and becoming resourceful and resilient in anticipating problems in the research problems and finding workarounds and solutions KCPT
002 Construct reasoned arguments, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement; applying the relevant concepts and methodological approaches to your own research proposal KCPT
003 Deploy a range of relevant research and evaluation skills, helpful to the first aim KCPT
004 Employ relevant research and evaluation skills to investigate politics - or policy-related areas helpful to developing a lateral view of political and international relations problems KCPT
005 Produce a rigorous research proposal KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Introduce students to a new method or technique every week, demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of each, the best practice in applying each method and key examples of studies within Politics and International Relations that successfully do so. The content of the module within our seminar sessions provides room for student-led discussion of the topics at hand.

The learning and teaching methods include:


  • 11 1-hr lecture sessions

  • 11 1-hr seminar sessions

  • 3 1-hr revision workshops (surgery sessions - optional)

  • 1 2-hr research design project workshop



In addition, guided learning is provided through videos and other resources on SurreyLearn of approximately 1 hour per week.

 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL2027

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
International Relations BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2022/3 academic year.