SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Introduction to Political Analysis

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year

This is a core module in both the BA Politics and BA International Relations degrees and provides a general introduction to methods of political analysis.  The module provides the foundation for further study of Politics and International Relations, covering such areas as philosophy of social science, scientific methods, theoretical and methodological debates and skills key to critical reading, writing and analysis.  Substantive areas of coverage include debates over structure and agency, politics and policy, historical methods, qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of politics and international relations, measurement, inference and interpretation, the use of evidence in argumentation, narrative and language.  The module is designed to complement other foundational modules in the Department of Politics and International Studies.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the range of analytical and methodological approaches in Politics and International Studies.
  • Critically evaluate and apply theories and methods in Politics and International Studies
  • Gain an understanding of major conceptual and analytical debates in Politics and International Studies
  • Think critically, analyse texts and structure essays in the field of Politics and International Studies
  • Analyse aspects of politics and international studies from a variety of perspectives
  • Apply theories to case studies
  • Critically evaluate the relationship between knowledge, power and policy.


This module will be taught over 20 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

Term 1
  1. Introduction 
  2. What is Politics? 
  3. Political Analysis: Science or Critique? 
  4. Reading Texts: Assumptions and Arguments 
  5. Writing Essays: Addressing a Question
  6. Reading Week 
  7. Concepts and Contexts 
  8. Theory and Methods
  9. Data Collection in Quantitative Research
  10. Describing Quantitative Data 
  11. Application and Interpretation of Quantitative Data 
Term 2 
  1. Rigour vs Richness?
  2. Positionality and Reflexivity 
  3. Structure and Agency
  4. Comparison
  5. Decision Making
  6. Reading Week 
  7. Language 
  8. Ethnography
  9. History
  10. Performance in Politics
  11. Conclusion

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Essay 20%
Assignment 2: Essay 20%
Assignment 3: Essay 30%
Assignment 4: Essay 30%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules