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Course content

This degree is designed for high calibre graduates who intend to undertake research for a doctoral degree in Politics or International Relations and need to acquire all-round training in research methods and methodologies in the political and social sciences. The object is to equip students with comprehension of basic principles of research design and strategy.

This MA programme is specifically focused to provide research training. It is assumed that students taking this MA do so with the intention of proceeding to a PhD. It has received official recognition from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and eligible candidates can apply for (ESRC) (1+3) studentships. Anyone proposing to do this should apply as early as possible in order to meet the ESRC deadlines.

Student Profiles

“I choose the Research Methods Masters because it offered me the most diverse skillset. The programme has a strong interdisciplinary character and I chose modules offered by Psychology and Sociology schools as well as the School of Government. This diversity has given me a broader skillset than a more focused master’s degree. Moreover this master’s has given me the confidence and ability to consider a wider variety of career options than that offered by my single-honours history undergraduate degree. I fully recommend this course for anyone looking to enlarge their knowledge in research methods and especially when applied to the fields of politics and international relations.” Jack Ekinsmyth, 2015/16

“The MA Research Methods, by spanning across two departments, allowed me to experience more of Durham University. The course was challenging, but prepared me for transitioning to a PhD. It also helped me secure ESRC funding, as the course offers ESRC-recognised research training modules. Durham University, with its reputation and beautiful city setting, was an easy choice and I enjoyed my busy year there.” Alex, 2014/15

Course Content

This degree is offered in collaboration with other departments in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health and is designed to provide a strong all-round training in research methods allied to further specialisation within the field of politics and international relations/studies. It is assumed that in taking this MA, you do so with the intention of proceeding to a PhD in Politics or International Relations. It has received official recognition from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and eligible candidates can apply for (ESRC) (1+3) studentships. The programme includes compulsory elements in a wide variety of techniques including statistics and quantitative methods, but contains less subject-specific content than the other MA courses.

Core Modules:
-Perspectives on Social Research
-International Relations Theory

Optional Modules - Optional modules in previous years have included:
-Statistical Exploration and Reasoning
-Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science
-Applied Statistics
-Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science
-Fieldwork and Interpretation

Additional Optional Modules - Optional modules in previous years have included:
-European Institutions and the Policy Process
-The European Union as a Global Actor
-German Foreign Policy
-Collective Identities and Political Thought in Britain Since 1850
-Contemporary Socio-Political Issues in Muslim Religious Thought
-European Security
-International Relations and Security in the Middle East
-Issues in the Politics of Military Occupation
-Just War in Political Theory and Practice
-The Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
-The Political Economy of Development in the Middle East
-America and the World: The Making of US Foreign Policy
-Region, Nation and Citizen in SE Asia
-Political Economy and Development in Chinese Business
-Nationalism, Revolution and Reform in Contemporary China
-Human Rights
-Political Ideology
-Strategic Asia: Policy and Analysis
-Categorical Data Analysis with SPSS and R
-A module offered by the School of Modern Languages

Learning and Teaching

At the beginning of the academic year, students go through five-day induction events in which they are informed about University, the School, the MA/MSc programmes and the facilities available for their learning.

The 180 credits one-year MA degree programme is divided into one core and seven/eight optional modules. Furthermore, students have to submit a dissertation of 45 credits of not more than 12,000 words. Most of the modules are delivered during the first two terms and students spend the remaining time to write the dissertation.

Usually a module has 18 contact hours spread over 9 weeks and 132 hours of self-directed learning. The modules are mainly delivered through weekly 2 hours sessions which can either take the form of seminars or one hour of lecture and one hour of tutorial. The form in which seminars are conducted can differ from one module to another. Typically modules would have elements of lectures, discussions, and presentations from students—the extent of each of these components would differ from one module to another.

All modules have written exercise for formative assessments. Upon getting feedback on these assignments, students can meet their lecturers to discuss their marks before then eventually completing a summative assessment. Typically summative assessments are 3000 word essays but some modules may be assessed by examination. Students can also meet their module coordinators during their weekly contact hours or by making an appointment. When students are working on their dissertations during the later half of the year, they meet their assigned supervisors for a minimum of 6 hours. Students also have access to the academic advisors whenever there is a need.

SGIA has a wide variety of resources available to students such as: computer room/work room with networked PC’s, printing facilities including scanner and photocopier, audio system, Wi-Fi and a relaxation area with satellite television system.

SGIA conducts weekly seminars and organises lectures and conferences which all postgraduate students can attend. These events provide students the opportunity to engage with, and debate, the most important issues in current political and international studies.

Towards the end of the programme students can contact the Careers Office of the University to get advice on available job prospects and get assistance on applying for these.

Visit the Research Methods (International Relations) - MA page on the Durham University website for more details!





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