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Regular version of the site

Research Seminar

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
2 year, 1-4 module


Gilev, Aleksey

Course Syllabus


This course highlights, first of all, the scientific component of research activity, rather than pursuits to answer any substantive political questions. The first part of this course is aimed at developing skills of writing good literature review. The second part (last thirteen classes) gets students acquainted with three kinds of research strategies (case study, comparative and experimental) which are extremely in demand in contemporary political science (statistical research strategy will be considered within Quantitative Methods course).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To highlight the scientific component of research activity
  • Developing skills of writing good literature review
  • Getting students acquainted with different kinds of research strategies
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Able to identify scientific subject
  • Able to solve professional problems based on synthesis and analysis
  • Able to outlines the need for resources and plan its using for solving professional problems
  • Work with information: find, define and use the information from different sources which required for solving of research and professional problems (including the system approach)
  • Able to do research, including the problem analysis, setting goals and objectives, defining the research subject, selecting research methods including its quality control
  • Student is capable of posing research problems relevant to the study of political phenomena and political processes; setting particular research tasks; and putting together a research design.
  • Student is capable of choosing research methods appropriate for resolving the professional tasks.
  • Student is capable of retrieving, collecting, processing and analyzing information relevant for achieving goals in the professional field.
  • Student is capable of reporting the results of the information retrieval and analysis, academic or applied research she/he has conducted: in various genres (including reviews, policy papers, reports and publications pertaining to socio-political subject matter); and depending on the target audience
  • Student is capable of executing applied analysis of the political phenomena and political processes: by using political science methods and in support of practical decision making process.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction to the Course
    Introduction to the Course. Scientific problem and social problem
  • Literature review
    Good literature review as a part of research. How to find relevant works? Mapping debate.
  • Causal mechanism
    Explaining a correlation. Importance of causal mechanism.
  • Process tracing
    Qualitative design. Process tracing as a way to explore causal mechanism.
  • Experimental Research Strategy
    The most 'scientific' design. How is it possible in political science? Lab experiment and field experiment. Natural experiment as a possible substitute.
  • Mixed methods
    Opportunities and limits of mixed methods design.
  • Case comparison
    Possible alternatives for experimental deign. Case-oriented and variable-oriented approaches.
  • Case study
    The fourth type of research design. Not a residual category: the value of case study approach.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In-Class Participation
    Individual participation in seminars and contribution to discussions, based on the mandatory and optional readings.
  • non-blocking Group project
    A literature review on the chosen topic. Each group presents part of their work throughout first half of the course. For the 7th seminar groups make powerpoint presentation of their literature reviews.
  • non-blocking Essay
    A written individual assignment of 1000-2000 words. Each student writes an essay answering a question which methods could be applied to the topic of student’s coursework and which data should be collected for that. The list of potential methods and approaches is discussed during the 2nd half of the course.
  • non-blocking Test
    A written examination with duration of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Test consists of two open questions based on topics of class seminars.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.25 * Essay + 0.25 * Group project + 0.25 * In-Class Participation + 0.25 * Test


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Approaches and methodologies in the social sciences : a pluralist perspective / ed. by Donatella della Porta . (2008). Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.283822104
  • Lijphart, A. (1971). Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method. American Political Science Review, (03), 682. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v65y1971i03p682.693.13

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Hale, H. E. (2008). The Foundations of Ethnic Politics : Separatism of States and Nations in Eurasia and the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=234389
  • King, G., Pan, J. J., & Roberts, M. E. (2013). How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0003055413000014
  • Ruben Enikolopov, Maria Petrova, & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya. (2011). Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia. American Economic Review, (7), 3253. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.101.7.3253
  • Thomas B. Pepinsky. (2010). Colonial Migration and the Deep Origins of Governance: Theory and Evidence from Java. Conference Papers —— American Political Science Association, 1–46. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=poh&AN=94851009
  • Trejo, G. (2012). Popular Movements in Autocracies : Religion, Repression, and Indigenous Collective Action in Mexico. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=458580
  • TURCHENKO, M. (2017). The Rise and Fall of Local Self-Government in Petrozavodsk. Demokratizatsiya, 25(2), 155–173. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=asn&AN=122589289
  • Vadim Volkov. (1999). Violent Entrepreneurship in Post-Communist Russia. Europe-Asia Studies, (5), 741. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668139998697