The learning outcomes for this module follow the prescription of the ESRC, thereby gaining accreditation with the Wales Doctoral Training partnership. At the end of the module students will have developed the following skills, as identified by the ESRC as being a requirement for accreditation, and be able to apply them in practical research contexts:
1. Comprehension of principles of research design and strategy, including an understanding of how to formulate research questions which are amenable to empirical investigation and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research. Specifically this module will enable students to understand how research questions are formulated in Politics and International Studies, and how this structures research and outputs. This includes work of a wholly theoretical nature, work which is empirically based, and work which uses theory to guide empirical research.
2. Competence in understanding and applying a broad range of research methods, (including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods), and the use of appropriate software for their application. Research in Politics and International Studies demonstrates considerable variety in methodologies used. This module will enable students to understand the key methodologies used in the discipline, how they are chosen for particular forms of research, and how they are then applied.
3. Capabilities for managing research, including data management, and conducting and disseminating research in a way that is consistent with both professional practice and the normal principles of research ethics. This module will enable students to understand issues relating to data management in Politics and International Studies, including handling of confidential and sensitive source material, as well as established disciplinary protocols for publication and other forms of dissemination.
4. Understanding of the significance of alternative epistemological positions that provide the context for theory construction, research design, and the selection of appropriate analytical techniques. Politics and International Studies is epistemologically heterogeneous, with both positivist and post-positivist approaches commonly used. This module will enable students to understand how different epistemological positions used in the discipline impact upon the practice of research.
5. Understanding of the basics of probability, and a critical understanding of the scientific method and of the nature of reflexivity. This module will enable students to understand how research in Politics and International Studies uses both scientific and critically reflexive modes of enquiry.
6. Understanding of the application of good ethical practice across the entire research process. Research in Politics and International Studies has raised a series of difficult ethical dilemmas, including issues relating to national security and safety of research participants. This module will enable students to understand the key ethical issues and how they are commonly resolved in the discipline.
This module is designed to meet the ESRC postgraduate research training requirements and is delivered jointly with Cardiff University as part of the Wales Doctoral Training partnership. It consists of two intensive workshops: the first will include a series of discussions on how to do research in Politics and International Studies; the second will consist of presentations demonstrating students’ engagement with research design and methods.
The module addresses specific disciplinary issues in research design and strategy; methodology; research skills and techniques; research management; epistemology and analysis; and research ethics. A residential two day workshop led by academic staff from Aberystwyth and Cardiff Universities will consider issues relating to research practice in Politics and International Studies. This will be followed by a second workshop, where students will discuss how their specific research engages with the issues raised in the first workshop.