Research Methods in Political Theory

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kai Spiekermann


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. There will be a reading week in LT 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

Possible readings will be discussed during a preparatory meeting in the MT.


Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the ST.

The essay topics will be chosen in consultation with the course convenor, but typically, one will reflect on a paper given by a visiting speaker in the Doctoral Research Seminar, and the other on one or more of the books read for the Lent term Reading Group.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 2

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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