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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Research Methodology
Module Code LG528
School School of Law & Government
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Maura Conway
Semester 2: Maura Conway
Autumn: Maura Conway
Module TeachersMaura Conway
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

The purpose of this course is to help you write a thesis. The thesis accounts for 27.7% of your final grade and requires an even greater proportion of your time. It is an opportunity to conduct independent research on a question of your own choosing. It is the thesis that primarily distinguishes a Master’s degree from a primary degree. The course content is an intoxicating mixture of timeless wisdom, good advice, and disciplined brainstorming. The timeless wisdom is mostly to be found in the early lectures. It applies with little qualification to all of you and indeed to all social science research. The later lectures contain good advice tailored to the sort of research undertaken by DCU politics and international relations students over the last fifteen years. Some of this advice is contestable and students are welcome to take different approaches if they are confident doing so. The disciplined brainstorming happens when you present your research idea to the class. The model is assessed on a pass-fail basis. If you pass, it does not contribute to your final degree classification. If you fail, you will not receive a degree. There are three assessments. These are the submission of an initial proposal, the presentation of the initial proposal, and the submission of a developed proposal. Ideally, the proposal should contain: 1. A statement of the research question, preferably in one line; 2. The location of the project in the existing literature; 3. Research method, including sources; and 4. Possible conclusions. The initial proposal should be 300 to 500 words long. After proposals have been submitted, I will draw up a schedule of presentations. Please make sure you turn up at the right place and the right time. You should make a one-minute presentation. Please use a stopwatch to practise. We will discuss your work for a further 12 minutes. The developed proposal should be 800 to 1000 words long and contain a detailed chapter structure, however notional. I have mentioned a small range of readings to reinforce and elaborate some of the ideas presented in class. The freedom to, and burden of, choosing your own research question also allows and requires you to choose your own reading. General reading about research methods is not particularly efficient. By contrast, once you have chosen a topic, reading up on the methodological issues that confront you is likely to be profitable. If you would like recommendations on more detailed topics, please ask me and I will try to help. Students will be assigned supervisors before the beginning of the next semester. The supervisor’s greatest contribution will usually be to guide you through the general process of research, rather than the particular exotica of you thesis topic. I will give you feedback on your developed research proposal. Please revise your proposal in line with this feedback and your own ideas and submit this to your supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

1. Sensitivity to the importance of research design
2. Substantial progress in identifying a practicable research project

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture22Attendance and participation in class
Lecture20Preparation of thesis proposal and presentation
Independent Study83Reading course material and preparation for class each week; background reading and research for thesis proposal
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Topic 1
Be afraid, but not too afraid: What a thesis is and (is not)

Topic 2
The view from the giants’ shoulders: Literature Reviews

Topic 3
Searching for material in the library and on-line

Topic 4
I theorise, therefore I am: Theory and theorising

Topic 5
Variation, Variation, Variation: Selecting evidence

Topic 6
Analysing Quantities

Topic 8
Analysing Qualities

Topics 9-11
Presentation of student proposals

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Presentationpresentation of MA dissertation proposal100%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Patrick Dunleavy: 1986, Studying for a Degree in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Macmillan Education, Basingstoke,
  • Patrick Dunleavy: 2003, Authoring a PhD: how to plan, draft, write, and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke,
  • Todd Landman: 2008, Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics, Routledge, New York,
  • W. Philips Shively: 2005, The Craft of Political Research, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
MIRMA in International Relations
MISCMA in International Security & Conflict
Date of Last Revision05-OCT-10

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