Methods in International Relations Research

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mathias Koenig-Archibugi CON 4.08


This course is compulsory on the MPhil/ PhD in International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The main objective of this course is to familiarise students with the principal approaches to contemporary research in the main branches of International Relations and to help students identify the appropriate methodology for their project. The course is not a technical course on methods. Unless they have taken courses on methodology and methods in their prior studies, students are encouraged to attend appropriate courses at the Department of Methodology. The course will encourage awareness of the relationship between theory and method in the conduct of research. It will highlight trade-offs when choosing specific methods or research designs. Our aim is to train well-rounded academic professionals, who are able to comprehend, critically interrogate, and engage with scholarship employing diverse methodological toolkits.  The course therefore aims to expose students to, and generate awareness of, a variety of research methods in the discipline irrespective of the particular approach employed in their doctoral work. The course will aim to promote an environment of mutual support and encouragement amongst first year research students, maximising the potential for cross fertilization between different projects. The course will develop students’ presentational skills in a group setting. In addition, sessions on professional development will be offered in the context of the course.


16 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 22 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

39 hours of seminars spread over MT and LT, beginning in Week 2 MT. In addition, professional development sessions will be offered.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to prepare presentations on examples of published research, commenting on the methodology adopted and the way in which it is applied. Moreover, students are required to submit a short written piece describing and justifying the methodological choices for their PhD. The aim is to practice writing about methodological choices with a view to the chapter students are going to submit to their Research Panel in the Summer Term. More indications about presentations and the written piece will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Indicative reading

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry E. Brady & David Collier (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Alexander L. George and Andrew Bennett, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (MIT Press, 2005); John Gerring, Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework, 2nd edition (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012). Peregrine Schwartz-Shea and Dvora Yanow, Interpretative Research Design: Concept and Processes (London: Routledge 2012); Patrick T. Jackson, The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations (Routledge, 2010); Gary Goertz and James Mahoney, A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).


This course is not assessed.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2016/17: 11

Average class size 2016/17: 12

Value: Non-credit bearing

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