GV209-5-AU-CO:
Applied Qualitative Methods and Field Research in Political Science

The details
2021/22
Government
Colchester Campus
Autumn
Undergraduate: Level 5
Current
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 17 December 2021
15
07 May 2021

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

(none)

Module description

What is qualitative research and how is it used to answer questions about politics? In this module, students will learn about the various facets and tools of qualitative research.

In political science and the social sciences, qualitative research is applied to trace and understand the mechanisms behind social puzzles. Qualitative research investigates causal processes, and tackles `why` and `how` questions to uncover what explains politics, while producing and analysing detailed, nuanced information. Applied qualitative research involves fieldwork – that is, scholars using qualitative methods leave their offices to meet and experience their subjects.

The module introduces students to the different methodological approaches, research designs and schools of qualitative inquiry. The module highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research.

The course emphasises application, with students running their own qualitative applications. Students also will learn how qualitative and quantitative research designs can be combined. The course uses various examples from the field of comparative politics of development to for illustration and to produce best practice examples.

Module aims

The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how research using qualitative methods works. Students will learn how to apply various qualitative methods, how to organise and conduct field research to gather qualitative data (and how to do so ethically), and how to mix qualitative and quantitative methods in a research project, in order to prepare students to conduct original and rigorous qualitative research, e.g., for their Capstone undergraduate thesis.

Module learning outcomes

1. Students will learn about various facets of qualitative research (e.g., interviews, focus groups, ethnographies, archival research, process tracing, analytic narratives, case selection, field research etc.) and how to critically interrogate qualitative research.
2. Students will learn how to design and conduct qualitative research and how to analyse qualitative data rigorously.
3. Students will learn how to conduct field research ethically when involving human subjects.
4. Students will learn how to combine different qualitative and quantitative methodologies to generate robust evidence.

Module information

Week 2 – Introduction: What is qualitative research and how is it used in political science?
Week 3 – Fieldwork ethics before, during and after qualitative research
Week 4 – Site selection and case selection
Week 5 – Interviews
Week 6 – Focus groups
Week 7 – Ethnography and participant observation
Week 8 – Archival research
Week 9 – Mixing methods to combine qualitative and quantitative approaches
Week 10 – Transparency in qualitative research
Week 11 – Conclusion: qualitative research project design

Learning and teaching methods

The module consists of two weekly hours of instruction. In the first half of each session, the instructor will introduce approaches to qualitative inquiry, field research and mixed methods. In the second half of each session, students get to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and learn how to design the tools to run qualitative analyses. This will include students e.g., co-designing ice-breaker questions, interview questionnaires, case selection design, or taking ethnographic together with partners during the class. The assignments are geared toward individual students producing their own qualitative tools and analyses. We will also critically discuss the role of positionality and power in the production of knowledge, qualitative and quantitative.

Bibliography

This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Ethnographic Observation  10/11/2021  30% 
Coursework   Interview Questionnaire  08/12/2021  30% 
Coursework   Qualitative Project Design  12/01/2022  40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Florian Kern, email: fkern@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Florian Kern
Module Supervisor: Dr Florian Kern - fkern@essex.ac.uk / Module Adminstrator: Lewis Olley - govquery@essex.ac.uk

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
No

External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 214 hours, 10 (4.7%) hours available to students:
204 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).

 

Further information
Government

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.