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Unit information: Investigating the Political in 2020/21

Unit name Investigating the Political
Unit code POLI20015
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Flint
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit aims to introduce students to a wide range of issues of concern to social researchers and will give an overview of some of the different kinds of empirical research methods that are available to social scientists. It aims to give students some initial experience of planning and carrying out research, and to alert them to the problems that arise in the generation, interpretation and evaluation of evidence. The unit covers a range of qualitative methods including observation and interviewing, and quantitative methods, such as survey research.


  • To provide an overview of the range of research methods available to Politics students;
  • To introduce students to practical research skills as a basis for future learning (including post-University);
  • To provide sufficient knowledge for students to select appropriate research methods for particular projects, especially their dissertation.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Critically discuss the issues involved in the generation, interpretation and evaluation of evidence
  2. Critically evaluate appropriate literatures
  3. Successfully employ techniques appropriate to small-scale research
  4. Interpret basic quantitative and qualitative research data
  5. Effectively disseminate research findings

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

Summative assessment 1 (25% weighting): literature review (1500 words) (ILO2)

Summative assessment 2 (75% weighting): report of research findings (3000 words) (ILOs 1-5)

Reading and References

Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods, Oxford: University Press.

Gilbert, N. (ed.) (2016) Researching Social Life, London: Sage Publications.

Seale, C. (ed.) (2017) Researching Society and Culture, London: Sage Publications.

May, T. (2011) Social Research, Maidenhead: Open University Press.