Foundations in Qualitative Methods
This module provides a conceptual overview of the various approaches and debates associated with theory and practice of qualitative research. It examines a range of contrasting perspectives on the design of research including problem identification, selection and sampling, and analysis.
Research ethics, and the role of the researcher in generating qualitative data, are key themes which run through the module. Specific consideration is given to the ways in which qualitative and quantitative approaches may be seen as complementary, and the use of mixed methods.
The module will also cover the ways in which qualitative research can be evaluated. The module will also facilitate dialogue between members of different social science disciplines, to give an understanding of how some issues or practices may be viewed differently from different disciplinary perspectives.
Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
This module aims to give you:
- An understanding of the methods of statistical analysis, using topics and datasets from the empirical social science literature
- A familiarity with STATA statistical software and data management
The course uses a range of datasets from across political science, focusing on topics such as social capital, voter turnout, cabinet duration, demonstration activity and class voting.
Philosophy of Research - Social Science
The module has three parts:
- Science and the philosophical critique of science
- Epistemological debates in the social sciences - including, but not limited to, positivism and its critics, interpretative approaches including phenomenology, critical realism, social construction and the politics of knowledge and the sociology of science
- The funding environment - interdisciplinarity and the impact agenda
Research Design, Practice and Ethics
This module focuses on the analytical, practical and ethical organisation of social science research.
The analytical organisation is often referred to as 'research design' and will constitute the bulk of the content of this module. Research design consists of choices necessary to transform a research question into actual research. These choices pertain to strategies and modes of case selection, observation methods, data collection and modes of analysis.
Every research question can be elaborated in different ways (ie with different designs), none of which will be ideal in all respects as the various choices pertain to trade-offs. Each design has its own implications in terms of costs and in terms of potential threats to the validity of its eventual results. These implications will be elaborated in the module, as well as ways how to handle the resulting choice problems in actual practice.
The practical organisation of research is closely related to design choices, but focuses particularly on logistical and timing issues. Ethical organisation of the research involves awareness of ethical issues, of ethical consent procedures and of their implications for research design and practical organisation.
The research and writing of a substantive dissertation of 12-15,000 words within the field of political science and international relations.
Airpower and Modern Conflict
The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare. Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks.
In recent years, however, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted.
This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns.
This module aims to explore the dynamics of conflict in the modern world. It will primarily address the increased role that non-state actors play in global security. It will introduce you to empirical analyses of numerous terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as to theoretical understandings of sub-state violence in the post-9/11 world. This module will enable you to engage with the concepts of resistance and rebellion in international relations and widen understanding of the multiple levels of global security.
Covert Action and Unacknowledged Interventions
This module covers:
- Covert Action
- Propaganda and Influence Operations
- Fake News and the Digital Revolution
- Political Action: Coups, Bribery, and Election Rigging
- Paramilitary Action: Sponsoring Insurgencies
- Assassination and Targeted Killing
- Secrecy in International Relations
- Covert Signalling and Strategy
- Political Management of Covert Action
- Democratic Oversight of Covert Action
- Measuring Success: Evaluating Secret Policy Impact
Disasters, Politics and Society
Disasters are defined by the United Nations as ‘a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope with using its own resources.’ The failure successfully to reconcile human behaviour with environmental threats has, throughout time and in different places, led to multiple disasters.
This module will examine the relationship between natural hazards and human society, how and why disasters happen and how the impact of disasters can be ameliorated. With reference to cases across the globe, there will be a focus on how social life has mitigated, adapted and evolved in the face of environmental hazards.
We will examine the social, economic and technological processes that mediate the relationship between human society and the natural world. We will examine key themes such as governance, technological innovation, urbanisation and migration, gender, culture and identity, global patterns of production and consumption, health and pandemics, race and class to understand why disasters impact on different people in different ways.
This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia.
It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics.
Grand Strategy examines how states have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. The module analyses a variety of strategies to understand what drives decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace. It draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide you with a more nuanced understanding of global politics.
Intermediate Quantitative Analysis
The objective of this module is to introduce you to specific intermediate-level issues of quantitative data analysis. In doing so, it will focus on examples from the analysis of cross-sectional survey data.
The lecture component of the module will explore the most common issues that arise when examining cross-sectional survey data. This includes issues such as: measurement error, non-response, missing data, weighting, recoding, and merging data sets. The lectures will also discuss the relative strengths of different survey modes: face-to-face, telephone and Internet. Finally, the lectures will discuss logistic regression.
In the laboratory component, you will learn to address the most common issues and the use of logistic regression, using a range of the most popular survey data sets. Through assignments, you will have the opportunity to develop and test hypotheses and explanations using major survey data sets. The module should provide you with the skills necessary to take cross-sectional survey data sets, and conduct the analysis necessary to conduct a full scale research project. The module will also provide you with the intermediate-level quantitative skills necessary to take more advanced quantitative modules, in survey analysis or otherwise.
IPE in the Era of Globalisation and Regionalisation
The study of international political economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system.
The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy, provide a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. This will include a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and regionalism as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development with a particular emphasis on the current global economic crisis.
The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (for example, Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.
Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice
The module introduces and explores the concept of distributive justice on an international and intergenerational basis. Standard accounts of distributive justice typically operate upon the assumption that the relevant principles are framed by, and apply within the borders of the nation-state.
This module examines how justice has traditionally been conceptualised, and challenges the idea of the nation-state as providing limits to the proper operation of principles of justice. Justice between nations, and between generations, as well as between humans and non-humans, forms the focus of this module.
The programme for dealing with these themes includes:
- international theories of justice, with particular reference to faminie relief and humanitarian intervention
- intergenerational justice and personal identity
- 'biocentric' theories of justice
- animal rights
- direct political action
The Politics of Celebrity, Sex and 'Alternative' Lifestyles in China
This module will introduce you to developments in Chinese society, media and popular culture. Through the vehicle of 'alternative' lifestyles it will examine the political, social and economic contexts that have given rise to expanded opportunities, and concomitant responses from the state, for personal and political expression.
The module will provide detailed studies of Chinese celebrity, sex, internet culture, self-development, and numerous subcultures through a lens of class, gender, urbanisation and generation change.
Research Methods in International Relations
This module covers:
- Methods and methodology – the logic of qualitative and quantitative research
- Theory, metatheory and methodology – how they relate to each other
- Quantitative data collection – surveys and polls
- Quantitative data analysis – basic statistical analysis
- Qualitative data collection – interviews and documents
- Qualitative data analysis - process tracing, thematic analysis, discourse analysis
- Mixed methodology – pros and cons
- Primary and secondary sources – how to use the library
- Research questions, design and ethics – practical considerations of research
- Academic skills – how to write a literature review and how to plan a dissertation
Structural Equation Modelling
This module focuses on the use of structural equation models (SEM), in empirical social research.
You will cover the methodological background of SEM, practical considerations in actual applications, empirical examples from different disciplines, and hands-on training (using the STATA software). The module is also relevant for those using other software such as AMOS, LISREL or MPlus.
Terrorism and Insurgencies
This module is designed to acquaint you with two of the most important aspects of contemporary international security: terrorism and insurgencies.
Both threats have become more acute in recent years and much intellectual, military and economic capital has been used up in efforts to contain them. In taking this module, you will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. You will understand how such threats come about and why individuals are drawn towards exercising the use of force against certain governments, their representatives, and the citizens of those governments.
You will also understand the nature and scope of counter-insurgency practices. You will discuss what works and what does not and the controversies encountered in implementing certain measures. By the end of the module, you will be conversant with, and have an appreciation of, factors which affect the security of many people in today's world.