IR4004 - Researching International Relations and Politics

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn why political scientists undertake research and how political scientists do it. You will examine the key approaches and methods used to help explain and understand issues in international relations and politics. You will learn about the role of theory in developing research, how research is designed, and how arguments are made and evaluated. You will learn why it is important to collect and consider different types of evidence, and be introduced to quantitative and qualitative methods used to analyse this information. You will learn techniques of critical analysis that will help you apply logic and reasoning to my studies of politics throughout your degree and beyond. The module will provide you with an essential foundation for independent research in year 2 (Applied Research Methods) and final year (the dissertation), but importantly helps you to think critically about international relations and politics and thus to become a graduate.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn by attending lectures and seminars where you will be presented with key, theories, methods and techniques of research and critical analysis. As part of these sessions you will engage with other students in solving problems through the application of these theories, methods and techniques to examples.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be facilitated through engagement with the academic literature, the example material provided and by talking with your peers about my understanding and application of the literature and the methods. To enhance your learning experience you will make an effort to take a broader view of your learning on this module, making connections to other modules and the content (literature, data etc.) therein and use this module as a stepping stone for your intellectual development on my degree and on your way to becoming a university graduate. You can expect to see your ‘common sense’ beliefs challenged and you will recognise the transitory and flexible nature of what is called ‘knowledge’ in the political sciences.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Understand the combination of questions, theory and evidence in different research designs in the study of international relations and politics
2. Understand why particular methods are used to interpret and analyse data

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Use skills of critical analysis to question claims and arguments
4. Interpret and question secondary data through the use of basic descriptive and inferential data analysis method

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. The ability to work with others through engagement in seminars.

How will I be assessed?

Formative feedback will be provided by your lecturer in response to your contribution to the class, especially in seminars. (MLO5)

A portfolio at the end of each semester will assess
- your ability to use and apply skills of critical analysis (logic and reasoning) and your knowledge and understanding of major analytical frameworks in the political sciences. (MLOs 1-4)
- your knowledge of the role of questions, theory, data and analysis and research design and their application to issues in politics, and knowledge and understanding of the political science research process. (MLOs 1-4)





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code L2L2

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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