Department of Political Science


Introduction to Qualitative Methods: Researching Politics using Texts, Transcripts and Images

Module Code


Module Tutor

Dr Cathy Elliott (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value


About this module

How are local insurgent movements affected by an influx of foreign fighters? What is the history of “antipolitics” and have voters always held their political leaders in disdain? How does it feel to be excluded from voting? How does contemporary travel writing produce and reproduce national borders? What are the politics of veiling? How do everyday politics on social media affect elections? How does photography of humanitarian disasters reproduce colonial attitudes?

This module will not necessarily tell you the answers to these questions, but it will help you understand how researchers have gone about trying to answer them and how you could try to answer similar questions about politics using texts, images and transcripts.

This is a module that focuses on how we can use text, transcripts and images to answer interesting and important questions about politics. By the end of the module, you should be able to understand a range of methodologies with a particular emphasis on texts, transcripts and images; develop research questions that can be answered using these methodologies; collect, analyse and interpret relevant data; evaluate the use of these methodologies in research and use the methodologies in your own research projects.


There is one core textbook for the module. We recommend that you purchase it. There are also a number of other relevant textbooks that we recommend that go into more specific detail on the study of texts, transcripts and images.

If you would like to do some preliminary reading over the summer, these texts are a very good starting point and will help you get ahead on the course materials.

Core Textbook:

  • Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath (2016) Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills. Second Edition Oxford: Oxford University Press. (NB: If you purchase a copy, make sure you get the second edition.)

Additional textbooks:

  • Schartz-Shea, Peregrine and Yanow, Dvora. 2012. Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes London and New York: Routledge
  • Kristina Boréus and Goran Bergstrom. 2017. Analyzing Text and Discourse London: Sage
  • Gillian Rose. 2016. Visual Methodologies. 4th Edition. London: Sage
  • Mats Alvesson and Kaj Sköldberg. 2017. Reflexive Methodology. 3rd Edition London: Sage

Summer Reading

If you are looking for some (slightly!) lighter reading over the summer, we would strongly recommend one of these books as a starting point for thinking about the ways researchers use texts, transcripts and images to make arguments about politics:

  • Cynthia Weber. 2006. Imagining America at War: Morality, politics and film. London: Routledge
  • Nick Clarke, Will Jennings, Jonathan Moss and Gerry Stoker. 2018. The Good Politician: Folk Theories, Political Interaction and the Rise of Anti-Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

As you are reading, try to think about what the researchers actually did to carry out their research. What texts, transcripts or images did they use and why? Did you know of the existence of these data sources? Could you use them to answer question about politics that interest you? Would you do the research any differently? Do their methods impact on how convincing their argument is? Do you think that researching using texts, images and transcripts might be for you?

*Please note that this module is only available to SPP students. Students taking this course are not permitted to take PUBL0058 Advanced Qualitative Methods.

Note: this module is not available to students registered on PUBL0058 or who have previously completed either PUBL0010 or PUBL0085, due to overlap in course content.