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Study information

Political Analysis

Module titlePolitical Analysis
Module codePOC2124
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Stuart Fox ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will introduce you to political analysis in order to prepare you for your dissertation in third year.  You will engage with a range of theories and approaches to the study of Politics and International Relations. You will be challenged to reflect on the assumptions that underpin various analytical lenses, which in turn shape the questions that can be asked and answered. As experts in their field, staff will offer political issues to be analysed and work through a number of different approaches and methods, using real world examples of research on that issue. Through the module you will be guided on choosing a suitable topic for your dissertation, conducting a literature review, generating your own focussed research questions, and designing an independent research project.

Module aims - intentions of the module

To introduce undergraduate students to key political theories, approaches and debates in political science.


To familiarise students with core concepts and methods for the analysis of politics and international relations.


To enable students to understand and conduct political analysis of contemporary social and political issues.


To provide students with analytical skills with which to design their own political research

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate an understanding of key theories and approaches of political analysis and the capacity to critically engage and evaluate political research;
  • 2. demonstrate an understanding of core concepts in political analysis and be aware of their ontological and epistemological assumptions;
  • 3. apply theories and methods of political analysis to design political research.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. demonstrate ability to define complex political problems, identify their significance and select appropriate approaches for investigating and critically evaluating them;
  • 5. demonstrate knowledge of political concepts and their contextual/social/political implications;
  • 6. demonstrate ability to apply knowledge to a political problem/ case study;
  • 7. demonstrate ability to select, integrate and present coherently and reflectively, orally and in writing, relevant political/theoretical arguments.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. communicate and engage in debate effectively and accurately, orally and in writing, in a manner appropriate to the discipline/ different contexts;
  • 9. demonstrate ability to manage relevant learning resources/ information/ learning strategies and to develop own arguments and opinions with minimum guidance;
  • 10. demonstrate ability to work independently and to manage time efficiently in preparing for scheduled learning activities, exercises and assessment including identify, retrieve and use efficiently a range of library-based and electronic resources with minimum guidance.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover at least some of the following topics:

  • Understanding foundational concepts: What is the Political in Political Analysis?
  • Social science debates between epistemological paradigms
  • Feminist, Queer and Decolonising methodologies
  • Choosing a suitable topic for political analysis
  • Writing a Literature Review
  • Designing a research proposal

Introduction to a range of tools and methods including document analysis, discourse analysis, archival research, textual and visual analysis 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity 2211 x 2.5 hour weekly seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity 33 x 1 hour small group assessment seminar
Guided Independent study40Preparation for seminars
Guided Independent study85Completion of coursework

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Critical review750 word equivalent1-10Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Dissertation proposal501,500 words1-10Written Feedback
Critical review501,500 words1-10Written Feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Dissertation proposal1500 words dissertation proposal1-10August/September reassessment period
Critical review1500 words critical review1-10August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative Basic reading:

Ackerly, Brooke A., Maria Stern, and Jacqui True, eds. Feminist methodologies for international relations. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Aradau, Claudia, et al. Critical security methods: New frameworks for analysis. Routledge, 2014.

Donatella della Porta, Keating Michael, Approaches and Methodologies in Political Science, CUP, 2008.

Halperin Sandra, Heath Oliver, Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills, OUP, 2016.

Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus. The conduct of inquiry in international relations: philosophy of science and its implications for the study of world politics. Routledge, 2010.

Kellstedt Paul, The Fundamentals of Political Science Research, CUP, 2013.

King Gary, Keohane Robert, Verba Sidney, Designing Social Inquiry, PUP, 1994.

Klotz, Audie, and Deepa Prakash, eds. Qualitative methods in international relations. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Lamont, Christopher. Research methods in international relations. Sage, 2015.

Lebow, Richard Ned. Constructing Cause in International Relations. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Rech, Matthew F., et al. "An Introduction to Military Research Methods." The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods (2016)

Salter, Mark and Can Mutlu (eds). Research Methods in Critical Security Studies. Routledge, 2012.

Shepherd, Laura J. (ed) Critical Approaches to Security, Routledge, 2012.

Toshkov Dimiter, Research Design in Political Science, Palgrave, 2016.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages
  • Kanopy;
  • podcasts;
  • blogs and vlogs;
  • cultural productions (songs; music videos; films; performances);
  • policy briefs;
  • annual reports from selected international organizations

Key words search

Politics, political analysis, philosophy of social science, power, agency

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date