Research Methods in Political Theory

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Paul Apostolidis and Dr Bruno Leipold


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

Course content

This course provides an introduction to the philosophical and methodological foundations of political theory. It aims to give doctoral students a comprehensive conceptual toolbox that can be brought to bear on many different substantive problems and research questions in political theory and neighbouring fields and will prepare doctoral students for choosing and reflecting on their methodological approach. The course runs in concurrence with the Political Philosophy Research Seminar and the Doctoral Workshop in Political Theory, complemented by a reading group in the Lent Term on methodological questions in political theory.


This course is made up of seminars totalling 10 hours in the Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus meetings/seminars. There will be a reading week in Week 6.

The seminars run in concurrence with GV501 and GV503, for which attendance is compulsory if students are taking GV504. These courses are made up of 18 hours of workshops/seminars each, which run throughout the Michaelmas, Lent and Summer Terms.

Formative coursework

Regular presentations in the reading group.

Indicative reading

Some possible choices for the reading group:

  • Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom, Oxford University Press (1986).
  • Nadia Urbinati, Me the People: How Populism Transforms Democracy, Harvard (2019).
  • Katrina Forrester, In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy, Princeton (2019).
  • Josiah Ober, Demopolis, Cambridge University Press (2017).
  • William Claire Roberts, Marx's Inferno, Princeton University Press (2016).
  • Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghetto, Harvard University Press (2016).
  • Timothy Scanlon, Being Realistic about Reasons, Oxford University Press (2013).
  • Rahel Jaeggi, Alienation, Columbia University Press (2016).
  • Rainer Forst, Normativity and Power, Oxford University Press (2017).
  • Daniel Lee, Popular Sovereignty in Early Modern Constitutional Thought, Oxford University Press (2016).
  • Cecile Laborde, Liberalism's Religion, Harvard University Press (2017).
  • Claire Chambers, Against Marriage, Oxford University Press (2017).


Essay (100%, 8000 words) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: 2

Average class size 2020/21: 2

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication