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Political Enquiry in International Relations - POL00051I

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kaisa Hinkkainen Elliott
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Encourage students to think critically about the claims and arguments that are made about International Relations phenomena within academia and beyond.
  • Develop awareness of the processes involved in generating new knowledge and making an argument within the discipline of International Relations. What does it mean to do research' in International Relations
  • Develop confidence and independence as scholars of International Relations, both within the undergraduate degree and after graduation.
  • Provide students with skills to design and carry out a piece of independent International Relations research.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge of, and critically evaluate, the origins, strengths and weaknesses of some of the main theoretical paradigms in the discipline of International Relations;
  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge of, and critically evaluate, the broad approaches to conducting research in International Relations;
  • Connect and apply theories, research design and methods to address problems in International Relations.

Students will also be able to:

  • Independently formulate research questions, design effective research strategies, and select appropriate research methods and tools in order to answer them;
  • Critically engage with a variety of research tools and techniques and understand the factors that affect their application and utility;
  • Clearly distinguish between qualitative and quantitative methodological traditions in international studies;
  • Have the skills to use a piece of statistical software in order to analyse and interpret quantitative data;
  • Understand and apply major qualitative methodologies including interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis, and archival research.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2000 words
N/A 40
Independent Research Project
N/A 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2000 words
N/A 40
Independent Research Project
N/A 60

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutors feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss summative feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their summative feedback during the module tutors regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Burchill, S. et al (2013) Theories of International Relations. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Fifth Edition.

This book contains authoritative introductions to all theories covered in the module. An earlier edition is available as an e-book via the library website.

Reus-Smit, C. and Snidal, D. (2008) The Oxford Handbook of International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mingst, K.A. and Snyder, Jack L. (2014) Essential Readings in World Politics. New York and London: Norton. Fifth Edition.

This book contains excerpts from important works of International Relations theory, as well as contemporary empirical applications. Some of these works can also be accessed in electronic form (use browsers like Google Scholar to locate them). Copies of this book are available in the key texts collection.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.