MY4IR      Half Unit
Research Design for International Relations

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible



This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Political Economy (Research) and MSc in International Relations (Research). This course is available on the MSc in International Political Economy, MSc in International Relations and MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

Research design represents a key dimension of knowledge production in the social sciences. This course aims to explore the challenges of research design and introduce the broad range of design options for students in International Relations. Drawing on a variety of examples putting into perspective the literature focusing on world politics into the broader context of social science research methods, this course will explore design considerations and options across quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research. At the end of the course, students will be able to read a wide variety of empirical social science with a critical and balanced perspective, assess trade-offs between the strengths and weaknesses of different feasible options, and be better equipped to implement and make arguments defending the methods they use in their dissertations.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the AT.

The lectures for this course are shared with the course MY400 Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise in the AT.

A project outline (1-2 pages long) that sets up a research question that the student will develop in their summative assignment.

Indicative reading

  • Babbie, E. (2016) The Practice of Social Research [14th edition]. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. Blaikie, N. and Priest, J. (2019) Designing Social Research [3rd edition]. Polity Press.
  • Cresswell, J.W. and Cresswell, J.D. (2017) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches [5th edition]. SAGE.
  • Devin, Guillaume (eds.) (2018) Resources and Applied Methods in International Relations, Palgrave.
  • Luigi Curini, Robert Franzese (eds.) (2020) The SAGE Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations. SAGE.
  • Robson, C. and McCartan, K. (2016, 4th edition). Real World Research. John Wiley.
  • Williams, M. (2003) Making Sense of Social Research. London: SAGE
  • 6, Perri and Bellamy, C. (2011) Principles of Methodology: Research Design in Social Science. SAGE.


Research proposal (100%) in the WT.

A research proposal (100%, 3000 words) in the WT. Students can base their research proposal on a dimension of their dissertation topic subject to the approval of their home department.

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2022/23: 66

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

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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
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills