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School of Politics and International Relations

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Research Training

Research training is one of the most important aspects of doing a research degree. It will not only equip you with the methods required to undertake your research, but will give you skills and knowledge that will serve you throughout your career.

Training in the School of Politics & IR is provided through the following pathways:

Qualitative/Quantitative Methods Training

This course runs throughout your first two semesters and is normally mandatory for first-year research students (unless you already have significant research training from a previous degree). The course is part of our MRes programme and you work alongside students from those degrees. The course has three main objectives:

  • to familiarise you with debates in the philosophy of social science, with particular reference to the study of Politics
  • to provide you with the skills to choose a research method on the basis of a critical understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of various qualitative and quantitative techniques
  • to provide you with essential research training skills in qualitative and quantitative methods to support research leading to the degrees of MPhil/PhD.

The course is split in to two parts:

  • Qualitative Methods Training: this section of the course introduces you to the main qualitative methods used in political and international relations research. Lectures are followed by group seminar discussion. Topics covered include: the history of British political science; post-structuralism; rational choice theory; ethnographic approaches to research; the use of opinion polls and surveys; case studies and the comparative method.
  • Qualitative Methods Training: this section of the course is taught in one of Queen Mary’s computer labs to allow for hands-on training in the statistical software (SPSS) that is used for the quantitative elements of the course. You will be given a comprehensive introduction to the use of SPSS for quantitative analysis and, in subsequent weeks, cover topics such as: descriptive statistics; measurements and scales; association and correlation; regression.

Postgraduate Research Seminars

These seminars are designed to complement the Qual/Quants course and allow research students to learn from their peers in a relaxed environment. The course consists of two hour seminars on a range of topics, including: teaching and study; research in the field; writing for journals; giving a conference paper. All research students are expected to present a work-in-progress paper each year. Supervisors and other staff in the School are invited to attend and provide feedback on these presentations.

Researcher Development Programme

This programme is run by the College’s Learning Institute. The programme provides an extensive range of training courses, primarily in transferable skills. It also provides opportunities for you to meet other research students and post-docs from different departments and campuses, which can be a valuable and interesting experience. The programme is very varied and includes courses designed to help you with specific aspects of your PhD (e.g. ‘Writing your Thesis’, ‘The Viva’) as well as courses to help you develop more widely applicable skills (e.g. ‘Mindmapping and Speed Reading’, ‘Critical Thinking’). For more information see the Centre for Academic and Professional Development website.

ESRC LISS-DTP Training

The LISS DTP provides training to PhD students based in SPIR, both students funded by the DTP and others. There is a variety of training on offer, such as reading groups led by students and/or academics and short courses, spanning areas such as:

  • social theory and epistemology
  • quantitative methods
  • qualitative methods
  • digital methods
  • archival research
  • knowledge transfer & co-generation methodologies

The LISS DTP is open to PhD students using social science methodologies in their research who are also enrolled at King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London, or Imperial College London. We ask interested students to complete our registration page, commit to attending the courses onto which they enrol, and give feedback on their experience once the course is over.

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