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Research Seminar in International Security


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Compulsory courses




This course provides a broad introduction to qualitative research in the social sciences. Its main focus is on issues of research design. As such, the course will be less concerned with introducing students to specific methodological techniques (e.g., interviewing, archival work, participant observation). Rather, the course is primarily about the essential logic that underpins social scientific research. You will learn about how to come up with a research question, how to construct theories and translate them into testable hypotheses, how to think about research questions in terms of variables, how to select cases that are appropriate to answer your research question, how to move from concepts and theories to the measurement of empirical indicators, and how to make descriptive and causal inferences. In tackling these issues the course combines readings on methodology with works from international relations that illustrate how (not) to do methodologically sound research. It builds on the methods course you have taken in the first semester in two key ways: first, it focuses on qualitative rather than quantitative research design and methods; and second, it emphasizes the application of what we are studying to your own final research projects.


  • Take home exercises: 20%
  • Literature review: 25%
  • Full dissertation research proposal: 25%
  • Discussion of another student’s dissertation proposal during the last four classes: 15%
  • Class participation (focused especially on the last four classes of the semester): 15%