Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 1 SGIA module


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module will introduce students to a range of methodological strategies and problems associated with the conduct of research within the discipline
  • The module contributes to students critical engagement with politics as an academic subject and as an aspect of wider human activity. They will gain a more detailed and systematic understanding of the chosen topic and an awareness of the areas of contestation and dispute surrounding that topic.
  • The module will offer students the opportunity to produce an extended piece of work within a structured and supported framework that will help prepare them for the demands of writing a dissertation at level three.
  • The module will require students to engage with the current research of members of staff.


  • The module content will include an introduction to the structuring of a research project, qualitative, quantitative and normative research methods and the ethical and risk dimensions of research.
  • The module will also include a specific topic, to be determined by the research interests of the staff teaching the module, and will require the students to engage with the research of those members of staff.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of:
  • Methodological strategies and tools deployed within the discipline of Politics.
  • A specific body of literature at or near the boundaries of current research.
  • The theoretical and/or methodological context of that body of literature.
  • The main areas of scholarly debate and dispute surrounding that body of literature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire the ability to:
  • Effectively select, describe and use advanced academic literature in the field.
  • Identify and evaluate key areas of dispute, demonstrating reasoned judgement.
  • Show appreciation of relevant contextual issues.
  • Demonstrate a self-critical and self-aware approach to the topic.
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop the ability to:
  • Effectively plan their own work over an extended period.
  • Deploy appropriate research techniques and methods with guidance.
  • Identify and utilise appropriate materials.
  • Communicate effectively.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • A lecture programme that consists of six general lectures for all students and three sets of four lectures run in parallel that introduce students to quantitative, qualitative or normative methods, depending on the students’ needs for their specific research project.
  • A general lecture program covers topics such as: finding research topic, research question, conducting a literature review, case selection, data collection, method selection, ethics and risks and the explanation of the links between a research project and a dissertation.
  • A selective lecture program covers three four hour lecture series run parallel that introduces students to qualitative, quantitative or normative methodology.
  • A tutorial programme, including both staff led sessions devoted to the conceptual framework of the research project and student led sessions devoted to the discussion of research proposals. It will introduce students to the conceptual and empirical debates surrounding the project, and provide student led discussion of the practical and theoretical problems relating to the formulation of research problems and the conduct of research.
  • Module-designated office hours will provide students with one-on-one guidance regarding selecting advanced academic literature, identifying debates, and selecting appropriate materials and research techniques.
  • Formative assessment will take the form of a 1,500 word project plan and an in-seminar presentation which will provide practice in the deployment of relevant theoretical and/or explanatory frameworks to specific bodies of literature.
  • Summative assessment will take the form of a 5,000 word project which will promote the ability engage with material at or near the current boundaries of research

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Distributed appropriately across all terms 1 hour 10
Tutorials 10 Fortnightly, evenly distributed across the term 1 and term 2 1 hour 10
Module-designated office hours  2 Distributed appropriately across term 1 and term 2 15 minutes 0.5
Preparation and Reading 179.5
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Project Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project 5,000 words 100% August

Formative Assessment:

One 1,500 word project plan One presentation, held in seminar in term 2

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University