Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC2083: The Research Toolkit for Politics and International Relations

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

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

Term 1

  • Why research skills are important inside and outside of academia
  • Crafting research questions and the research process
  • Identifying local political organisations with which to work
  • Conducting an academic literature search
  • Organising notes and thematising reviewed literature
  • Writing a literature review
  • Scoping out a research project


Term 2

  • Building a collaboration with a local political organisation
  • The nuts and bolts (ontology and epistemology) of research
  • Experiments
  • Surveys / secondary data analysis
  • Documentary / archival research
  • Case studies
  • Participant observation
  • Qualitative interviews
  • Communicating research findings
  • Presenting to local political organisations
  • Reflecting on feedback and drafting a policy brief

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities168 x 2 hour workshops (Term 1)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity1111 x 1 hour lectures (Term 2)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities11Seminars 11 x 1 hour (Term 2)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities61 x 2 hour session at which organisations present the policy briefs to students; 1 x 2 hour session to provide feedback on research synopsis; 1 x 2 hour session at which students present their preliminary findings to the organisations that set the policy briefs
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities2010 x 2 hour timetabled sessions for group work (to delegate tasks, communicate etc.) and to produce synopsis
Guided Independent study40Preparing for and producing literature review
Guided Independent study40Producing independent contributions to the scoping report
Guided Independent study42Private study; reading material set on reading list, including journal articles which show how research methods have been used in practice
Guided Independent study12Watching and reflecting on guest speaker videos
Guided Independent study7Listening to and evaluating interviews with political scientists
Guided Independent study47Preparing policy brief
Guided Independent study22Preparing group presentations
Guided Independent study22Preparing critical reviews

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).