DCU Home | Our Courses | Loop | Registry | Library | Search DCU

Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Qualitative Methods
Module Code LG603
School School of Law & Government
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Karen Devine
Semester 2: Karen Devine
Autumn: Karen Devine
Module TeachersKaren Devine
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This is a theoretical and empirical course is designed to introduce students to the qualitative methods and the applied analysis of text and discourse in positivist, critical, postmodern and poststructuralist guises, specifically, the approaches of (1) process tracing (2) content analysis, (3) critical discourse analysis (4) discourse theory and (5) poststructuralist discourse analysis/deconstruction. The course will locate each of the approaches in relation to different epistemological positions and recent developments in empirical research in the social sciences, including politics and international relations. Students will learn to appreciate the advantages and suitability of each approach in application to particular research questions. The course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend lectures and contribute to seminar discussions on the theory and practice of each of the five methods.

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify the key characteristics of each method of (1) process tracing (2) content analysis (3) critical discourse analysis (4) discourse theory and (5) deconstruction
2. Understand the benefits and applicability of each method to particular social science research questions
3. Appreciate the location of each of the methods on an epistemological spectrum
4. Explain the similarities and differences of each method in relation to one another
5. Apply each of the methods to an appropriate social science research question
6. Evaluate the worth of each method in relation to their own PhD research question

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture12No Description
Seminars12No Description
Independent Study101Preparation for lectures/seminars and reading for course assignment work
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

Introduction: Advantages and benefits of qualitative methods
* Rigour in Qualitative work * Documents and Interviews - your building blocks * Analytical Narrative - more than story telling

An assessment the components of process-tracing and how the technique might be applied

Process-tracing in practice
An evaluation of examples of process-tracing work in academic journal articles

Content Analysis
An assessment the components of content analysis and how the technique might be applied

Content Analysis in Practice
An evaluation of examples of content analysis work in academic journal articles

Critical Discourse Analysis
An assessment the components of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and how the technique might be applied

Critical Discourse Analysis in Practice
An evaluation of examples of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) work in academic journal articles

Discourse Theory and Deconstruction
An assessment the components of discourse theory and deconstruction and how the techniques might be applied

Discourse Theory and Deconstruction in Practice
An evaluation of examples of Discourse Theory and Deconstruction in academic journal articles

Discourse Analysis, Identity and Social Constructivism
An examination of the different constituent forms and concepts of identity that underpin the latter three discourse analysis approaches within the theoretical paradigm of constructivism

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentA 3000-word paper on the methodology chapter of your PhD dissertation, focusing on the qualitative technique(s) you are using (or thinking of using) in your dissertation and evaluating the advantages, disadvantages and 'fit' of the chosen technique(s) with your PhD research question OR A 3000-word paper comparing the utility and appropriateness of two or more of the methodological technique(s) used in the articles provided as reading material for the course as research approaches to either (1) a key issue in International Relations or (2) your PhD research question100%Sem 2 End
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

  • Brady, Henry and David Collier eds: 2004, Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanhan,
  • Bryman, Alan: 2004, Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  • George, Alexander and Andrew Bennett eds: 0, Case Studies and the Development of Theory in the Social Sciences, MIT Press, Cambridge,
  • King, Gary, Robert Keohane, Sydney Verba: 1994, Designing Social Enquiry, Princeton University Press, Princeton,
  • Shively, W. Philips: 2004, The Craft of Political Research, 6th, Pearson, New Jersey,
  • Landman, Todd: 2000, Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction, Routledge, London,
  • Jacob Torfing: 1999, New Theories of Discourse, Blackwell, Oxford,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
Date of Last Revision08-OCT-10

My DCU | Loop | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement