The University of Southampton
Courses

PAIR1005 Introduction to Political Inquiry

Module Overview

This module introduces the basic concepts required for evaluating and designing research on political phenomena. Students will be equipped with the vocabulary and basic logical framework required to critically assess academic research, and to design their dissertation research in an independent and rigorous fashion. Key concepts will include: theory, data, case, independent variable, dependent variable, scientific method, description, inference, causality, and methodology. This module will serve as a basis for a subsequent module on research methods

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Having successfully completed the module, students will: Gain an understanding of the types of research questions which can be asked of political phenomena (knowledge and understanding; subject specific intellectual); Learn the inherent problems and dilemmas of drawing inferences from data (knowledge and understanding; transferrable and generic); Gain the working vocabulary required to think and speak about the quality and limitations of previous research (knowledge and understanding; transferrable and generic); Gain a working knowledge of how to develop a research strategy given a research question (knowledge and understanding; transferable and generic).

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the types of research questions which can be asked of political phenomena
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the inherent problems and dilemmas of drawing inferences from data
  • Use the working vocabulary required to think and speak about the quality and limitations of previous research
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how to develop a research strategy given a research question
  • Understand and demonstrate how theories and concepts apply to real-world scenarios in the context of the on-line simulation
  • Summarise the arguments from academic literature in way which presents the core of the academic contribution to knowledge
  • Apply IR theories and approaches to better understand different events and processes in the world.
  • Analyse the purpose, coherence, and contradictions of contemporary theories of international relations
  • Evaluate the contribution of different theories of international relations to our understanding and explanation of international relations

Syllabus

Each week will be devoted to a conceptual issue related to political inquiry. Lectures will synthesize selected texts to guide the module through a logical sequence of issues, emphasising examples from various literatures in political research. Week 1: Introductory Week 2: Academic Research Week 3: Building Blocks Week 4: Descriptive Inference Week 5: Causal Inference Week 6: Research Design Week 7: Experimental Designs Week 8: Large-N Observational Week 9: Small-N Observational Week 10: Writing a Research Paper 1 Week 11: Writing a Research Paper 2 Week 12: Writing a Research Paper 3

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Focused, directed readings which students complete before each session will provide the core material around which each session will be organized. Each session will include a lecture providing a general overview of the main points which will be followed by discussion questions in response to which students will exercise their command of the material. These teaching and learning methods will achieve the aims and learning outcomes of the module by providing a focused, consistent, and supportive environment where students engage with the material in multiple ways (through reading, audible/visual lectures, and through their own speaking).

TypeHours
Independent Study138
Teaching12
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Baglione, Lisa A (2016). Writing a Research Paper in Political Science. 

Barakso, Maryann, Daniel M. Sabet, Brian Schaffner (2013). Understanding Political Science Research Methods. 

Kellstedt, Paul M., Guy D. Whitten (2013). The Fundamentals of Political Science Research. 

Eckstein (1975). ``Case Study and Theory in Political Science''. The Handbook of Political Science. Vol 1. 

Paul Holland. (1986). Statistics and Causal Inference,'' with comments and rejoinder. Journal of the American Statistical Association. ,81 , pp. 945-70.

David Dessler (1991). Beyond Correlations: A Causal Theory of War. International Studies Quarterly. ,35 , pp. 337-355.

Stephen Van Evra (1997). Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Short research paper must be passed for successful completion of the module

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Research Design Proposal  (1500 words) 35%
Short Research Paper  (3000 words) 65%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s)  (1000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Library copies of textbooks have been requested. For students who wish to buy personal copies, the total sum for books does not exceed £60.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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