Research Design in Political Science

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Paul Mitchell CON5.14


This course is compulsory on the MPhil/PhD in Government and MRes Political Science. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

PhD students taking this course will find the focus on developing a research design for their PhD thesis immensely useful. The importance of a solid understanding of the principles of social scientific research design to the development of the PhD project cannot be underestimated. Students will learn to develop their research questions, to choose a feasible data collection strategy, and how to match data collection and analytic methods to the aims of the PhD project.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 8 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

This is a PhD level Research Design course – we do not intend to have additional essays. Students will give presentations and receive extensive feedback on their work in progress. These are part of formative rather than summative assessment and are an important part of professional development. The main learning outcomes are to help the PhD students develop professional research designs.

Indicative reading

King, G., Keohane, R. & Verba, S. (1994) Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton UP.
Geddes, B. (2003) Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics, University of Michigan Press.
Brady, H. & Collier, D. (eds) (2004) Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, Rowman & Littlefield. (A kind of reply to KKV)
Box-Steffensmeirer, J., H. Brady & D. Collier (eds) (2008) The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. OUP. Too expensive to buy!
Geortz, Gary (2006). Social Science Concepts. Princeton U.P.
Gerring, J. (2012) Social Science Methodology. CUP.
Robson, Colin (2011, 3rd edition). Real World Research. London: John Wiley.
Trochim, William and James Donnelly (2008 3rd edition). The Research Methods Knowledge Base. Atomic Dog.


Essay (20%, 2500 words), essay (20%, 2500 words) and research project (60%) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: 9

Average class size 2012/13: 1

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication