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Regular version of the site

Research Seminar "Methodology and Research Design"

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


Course Syllabus


The course offers an introduction to the practice of social scientific research on a graduate level. Considering the interdisciplinary character of the MA programme and the diverse background of the student body, the course aims to familiarize students with international standards of linking empirical and conceptual approaches, data-collection, academic writing, and communicating research results. During the second year, this course primarily functions as a workshop for MA thesis writing. The primary objectives of the course in this crucial period are providing a supportive forum for students in their thesis-writing process, and to develop their critical thinking skills by discussing the projects of their peers. Furthermore, exposure to thesis projects situated in various epistemic and methodological traditions will broaden the intellectual horizon of students.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • to familiarize students with international standards of linking empirical and conceptual approaches, data-collection, academic writing, and communicating research results
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Avenues of applying research skills outside academia will be introduced
  • Students will become familiar with the essential features of academic publishing procedures
  • The essential genres of academic writing will be introduced
  • Students will be able to confidently mobilize external sources in their research, fully aware of the boundaries between sound academic writing and plagiarism or academic dishonesty.
  • Students will be able to effectively communicate their research results
  • Students will have a firm grasp on the essential practical guidelines of research design and planning
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The fundamental features of academic research and genres of academic writing
  • Research ethics and the use of supporting tools
  • Avoiding the “So what?” question: puzzles, problems and research questions
  • A practical guide to planning research: term papers, thesis outlines, PhD proposals
  • Communicating in academic contexts: presentations and conference discussions
  • Pluralistic traditions, mixed methods? Navigating between epistemic and methodological traditions
  • The use of research skills in non-academic contexts
  • Presentation workshop 1.
  • Presentation workshop 2
  • Presentation workshop 3
  • Presentation workshop 4
  • Presenatation workshop 5
  • Position paper
  • Literature review
  • Presentation
  • Written exercises
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Class participation
  • non-blocking Written exercises
  • non-blocking Presentation
    The presentation should outline the student’s preliminary proposal for her/his thesis research. The presentation should include the following elements: 1. Empirical problem or theoretical puzzle behind thesis research 2. State of the field 3. Research question 4. Hypotheses/directional expectations/hunches 5. Methodological commitments 6. Logistical plan for research 7. Expected outcomes 8. Discussion on importance of the research
  • non-blocking Literature review
  • non-blocking Position paper
    The position paper shall be a problem-based, argumentative text demonstrating the student’s capacity to identify academically relevant problems, finding avenues to tackle it, and communicating her/his arguments in a persuasive, transparent, and succinct manner. The position paper should also demonstrate the student’s firm understanding on the differences between epistemic and methodological traditions. The position paper’s extent shall not exceed 1,000 words, including foot/endnotes, excluding the bibliography. Essay structure: 1. Short and general formulation of answer, outline of structure 2. Review of relevant claims in the literature 3. Critical review of relevant positions. 4. Core of argument, supported by analytical and/or empirical claims. 5. Conclusion, summarizing the core points of the argument.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2021/2022 2nd module
    0.1 * Class participation + 0.2 * Literature review + 0.3 * Position paper + 0.3 * Presentation + 0.1 * Written exercises
  • 2022/2023 1st module
  • 2022/2023 2nd module


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Collier, D., & Brady, H. E. (2010). Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards. eScholarship, University of California.
  • Eco, U., Farina, G., & Mongiat Farina, C. (2015). How to Write a Thesis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=963778
  • Hancké, B. (2009). Intelligent Research Design : A Guide for Beginning Researchers in the Social Sciences. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=299002
  • King, G. (DE-588)135604311, (DE-627)568593324, (DE-576)166299405, aut. (1994). Designing social inquiry scientific inference in qualitative research Gary King; Robert O. Keohane; Sidney Verba.
  • The Oxford handbook of political methodology / ed. by Janet Box-Steffensmeier . (2008). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.253060168

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Landman, T. (2008). Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics : An Introduction (Vol. 3rd ed). Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=222321