GV513      Half Unit
Qualitative Methods in the Study of Politics

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Steffen Hertog CON4.01


This course is available on the MRes Political Science. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

MRes Political Science Stream B (compulsory); other PhD students with permission of class teacher and subject to capacity.

Course content

This course introduces and critically evaluates, at the advanced postgraduate level, a key range of qualitative techniques and methods in political science, in order to provide a powerful resource for students to evaluate qualitative methods for themselves, and to select, reject, and deploy them in research theory, design and practice.
The course begins with debates over the place of qualitative methods in political science, and the question of how to match ideas to methods. The rest of the course is devoted to exploring a range of qualitative techniques, including case studies, qualitative comparative analysis, questionnaires, interviews, reading texts, and ethnography.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Critiques of articles or books that use the various methodologies discussed in the course.

Indicative reading

G. King, R. Keohane, and S. Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific inference in qualitative research (Princeton, 1994). Antoinette Burton ed., Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History (Duke University Press, 2006). Paul Rabinow, Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, first published 1977 (University of California Press, 2007); David Collier and Henry Brady, Rethinking Social Inquiry (Rowman and Littlefield 2010); John Gerring, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Cambridge University Press 2007).


Essay (30%, 1500 words) in the LT.
Project (70%, 2500 words) in the ST.

EITHER (1a) A thorough critique of an article which uses one of the methods discussed in the course (1500 words) OR (1b) A short project using one of the methods discussed in the course, focused on how to analyse and present qualitative findings (e.g. a short content analysis, a set of interviews around a particular topic, etc) (1500 words) AND FOR ALL STUDENTS (2) A complete "mock" research design, preferably (although not necessarily) on their own research question (2500 words).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: 6

Average class size 2012/13: 1

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills