Methodology in the Social Sciences

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module is designed to provide a general introduction to problems, approaches and debates in social science methodologies (broadly understood). The aim is to make MSc students familiar with prominent methodological angles and language(s), to provide both a solid grounding in the key issues and a critical understanding of them. It is roughly divided into two parts: philosophy of social science, epistemology and ontology (weeks 2-5) and an introduction into understanding and applying popular/relevant methodological approaches (weeks 6-10).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Make students familiar with the language(s) of social science methodology and provide both a solid grounding in the key issues and a critical understanding of them.
  • Introduce students to basic epistemological questions, approaches and debates in the philosophy of social sciences
  • Introduce students to common/popular methods in the social science, both positivist and interpretivist, qualitative and quantitative


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

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: 30%
  • Assignment 2: 70%

Suggested reading

  • Foucault, Michel (2001 [1966]) The Order of Things: Archeology of the Human Sciences (Routledge Classics)
  • Hollis, Martin (2002) The Philosophy of Social Science: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press
  • Hall, Stuart (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices. Sage Publications
  • Hay, Colin (2002) Political Analysis: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Kuhn, Thomas S (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago University Press).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules