Department of Political Science


POLS0031 Qualitative Research Methods - BSc PPE students only

Course Code: POLS0031

Course Tutor: Dr Alexandra Hartman (Department of Political Science)

Length: One Term (Spring Term)

Teaching: 20 contact hours

Assessment: 4,000 word portfolio of 4 field research techniques

Credits: 15 credits, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS) 

Module Level: L5 (Intermediate)

political science, research methods, fieldwork, research design, ethics research methods

About this course

Only open to students on the BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics programme.

The main objective of the module is to introduce students to qualitative field research methods in political science. The module will emphasize methodological and practical aspects of research. For what research questions are ethnographic and in-depth interview techniques best suited? What criteria of evidence and analytical rigor apply on this terrain? Can one generalize from qualitative data, and if so, in what sense? Can qualitative research verify hypotheses, or only generate them? Can qualitative research explain social phenomena, or only interpret them? Is replicability possible in ethnographic research? When and how should ethnographic methods be combined with other methods? How does one ensure reliability? What is a good research site? How is the site best entered? When is a structured interview preferable to a less structured one? How does one find informants? What are good field notes? What ethical and political dilemmas come into play?