How do we know? An introduction to research design and methods in political economy

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Abby Innes Dr. Gianmarco Fifi


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Economy of Europe and MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available on the MSc in The Global Political Economy of China and Europe (LSE and Fudan). This course is not available as an outside option.

Available for other students in the European Institute with permission of the course convenor. 

This course is only available to European Institute Students.

Course content

The course introduces students to research design and core methods in political economy. It raises awareness for ontological and epistemological challenges in political economy and offers guidance on how to develop research questions. It further introduces students to the logic of case study research, most similar and most dissimilar research designs and offers an introduction into the logic of quantitative methods and notably regression analysis. The course takes the format of an interactive active lecture with theoretical and applied parts and group exercises. It is compulsory and unassessed for all students on MSc Political Economy of Europe and MSc Double Degree in the Political Economy of Europe (LSE & Sciences Po). The course is optional for students on the MSc Double Degree in the Global Political Economy of China and Europe (LSE & Fudan).


10 hours of lectures in the AT. 10 hours of seminars in the WT.

Note: This course includes 10 hours of teaching during WT week 6 and therefore does not include a reading week. 

Formative coursework

This course is unassessed. 

Indicative reading

  • George, Alexander, and Andrew Bennett. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. BCSIA Studies in International Security. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.
  • Gerring, John. 2004. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98, 2 (May): 341-354.
  • Hancké, Bob. Intelligent Research Design: A Guide for Beginning Researchers in the Social Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • King, Gary, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • O’Neil, Weapons of Math destruction, Penguine, 2016.
  • Przeworski, Adam, and Henry Teune. 1970. The Logic of Comparative Social Inquiry. New York: John Wiley & sons, Inc. pp. 3-46.
  • Seawright, J. and Gerring, J., 2008. Case selection techniques in case study research: A menu of qualitative and quantitative options. Political research quarterly, 61(2), pp.294-308.
  • Van Evera, S., 1997. Guide to methods for students of political science. Cornell University Press.


This course is unassessed. 

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 99

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Non-credit bearing

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

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication