Dissertation writing methodology

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Aims and scope: 

The course combines a dissertation with supporting lectures on research methods and the use of research in development practice. Students will initially submit a dissertation title with a 150-250 word abstract in the first half of the second semester. They then go on to write a more detailed research proposal towards the dissertation on a topic within International Development Studies. This will be conducted under the supervision of a member of the staff, through individual tutorials. The student research proposals will form the basis for discussion and debate in dissertation workshops. The research proposal will identify a key question for investigation, the theoretical and methodological framework to be employed in the work and a justification for why the topic is theoretically and empirically important, with reference to the literature. A tentative outline and preliminary bibliography will be included. The course lectures aim to equip students to critically use research by learning how to evaluate and critique the quality of research; understanding and appreciating a range of research methodologies, exploring what constitutes analytical rigour and the choice of particular methodologies for particular problems and contexts. Lectures will discuss how different methodologies are used in practice, for example to inform policy and practice, or as the basis for advocacy by NGOs and others. Faculty and guest lecturers will also introduce a range of new/cutting edge areas in research, including launches of relevant new books and hot topics such as the results agenda, theories of change, the data revolution, or complexity and systems thinking.

Indicative reading: 
  • Burton, D. (ed) (2000) Research Training for Social Scientists SAGE.
  • Dunleavy, P. (2003) Authoring a PhD Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Harrison, L. (2001) Political Research: An Introduction Routledge.
  • Hay, C. (2002) Political Analysis: An Introduction Palgrave MacMillan.
  • King, G., Keohane, R.O. and Verba, S. (1994) Designing Social Inquiry Princeton University Press.
  • Burnham, P., Gilland, K., Grant, W. and Layton-Henry, Z. (2004) Research Methods in Politics Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Marsh, D. and Stoker, G. (eds) (2002) Theory and Methods in Political Science 2nd edition Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Silbergh, D.M. (2001) Doing Dissertations in Politics Routledge.
  • Silverman, D. (ed) (2004) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice SAGE.
  • Turabian, K. (1996) A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Wisker, G. (2001) The Postgraduate Research Handbook Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
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