MY525 Half Unit
Case Studies and Comparative Methods for Qualitative Research
This information is for the 2022/23 session.
Dr Eleanor Knott COL 7.08
This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in International Relations, MPhil/PhD in Social Policy and MPhil/PhD in Social Research Methods. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This course is freely available to any MRes or PhD student interested in case study research designs. The course is most suited to students within macro- or meso-sociological traditions (e.g. political science, IR, sociology, political sociology, policy studies, development studies) than those within a micro-sociological/individualist tradition (e.g. micro-interactionist perspectives, psychology, psychiatry).
This course is not controlled access. If you register for a place and meet the prerequisites, if any, you are likely to be given a place.
This course focuses on the approach and practice of designing and conducting case study and comparative research. Thinking outside of the areas of interest and specialisms and topics, students will be encouraged to develop the concepts and comparative frameworks that underpin these phenomena. In other words, students will begin to develop their research topics as cases of something.
The course will cover questions of design and methods of case study research, from single-n to small-n case studies including discussions of process tracing and Mill's methods. The course will address both the theoretical and methodological discussions that underpin research design as well as the practical questions of how to conduct case study research, including gathering, assessing and using evidence. Examples from the fields of comparative politics, IR, development studies, sociology and European studies will be used throughout the lectures and seminars.
This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term.
Lectures will provide students with the key concepts, ideas and approaches to case study and comparative research. Seminars will provide students with practical experience of assessing the approaches of case study and comparative research design, as well as opportunities to design and develop their own research projects.
This course has a reading week in Week 6 of LT.
Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 other piece of coursework in the LT.
1 formative paper: literature review and project outline (1-2 pages) due in Week 8. Students will receive written feedback on this by Week 11.
1 peer marking exercise: in-class oral peer feedback session for students to exchange ideas on formative assignment (Week 9). This in-class activity may be delivered via webinar.
- Beach, D., & Pedersen, R. B. 2019. Process-tracing methods: Foundations and guidelines. University of Michigan Press.
- Bennett, A. and Checkel, J.T. eds., 2014. Process tracing: From metaphor to analytic tool. Cambridge University Press.
- Della Porta, D. and Keating, M. eds., 2008. Approaches and methodologies in the social sciences: A pluralist perspective. Cambridge University Press.
- George, Alexander L. and Andrew Bennett. 2005. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences.
- Gerring, J. 2017. Case study research: principles and practices. Second edition. Cambridge University Press.
Example readings for discussion:
- Briggs, Ryan C. 2017. “Explaining case selection in African politics research”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies.
- Finkel, E. (2017) Ordinary Jews: choice and survival during the Holocaust. Princeton University Press.
- Lund, Christian. 2014. “Of What is This a Case? Analytical Movements in Qualitative Social Science Research.” Human Organization 73(3): 224–234.
- Simmons, E. (2016) Meaningful resistance: market reforms and the roots of social protest in Latin America.: Cambridge University Press.
- Simmons, E. S. and Smith, N. R. (2017) ‘Comparison with an Ethnographic Sensibility’, PS: Political Science & Politics, 50(01), pp. 126–130. doi: 10.1017/S1049096516002286.
- Slater, D. and Wong, J. (2013b) ‘The Strength to Concede: Ruling Parties and Democratization in Developmental Asia’, Perspectives on Politics, 11(03), pp. 717–733. doi: 10.1017/S1537592713002090.
Class participation (10%) and research design (90%) in the LT.
It is recommended that students base the research design proposal (5000 words) on their dissertation topic (e.g. the whole dissertation project, a chapter or paper). Where students also take MY500 (which has a similar summative assessment), students will be guided towards a modified version of the research proposal (e.g. a different research question) to avoid self-plagiarism between assignments.
Weekly participation grade (10%) preparation and active participation in seminars and group presentation.
Total students 2021/22: 10
Average class size 2021/22: 8
Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)
Value: Half Unit
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Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Specialist skills