Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Research Methodology and Writing Skills

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT European Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit guides students through the "research cycle" starting from a research question and going through the development of the literature review and theory, the methodology and research design, the discussion of own arguments and findings, and the design of good conclusions. Taught collectively by the whole resident teaching staff of the Institute for European Studies, this study-unit emphasises methodological pluralism - including qualitative and quantitative research designs, rationalism and constructivism, small-N and large-N studies, hypothesis testing and thick description.

The study-unit is structured on three interrelated components: a) developing a literature review, b) constructing a theory and research design; c) analysing findings.

This study-unit also introduces students to research methods and writing skills and informs students about research sources available to them at the University library and the Institute for European Studies. It also points out at sources that are available elsewhere, such as the use of the internet. Importantly, this study-unit does not only stop short at listing the research sources available but informs students on how to make research, optimize the use of available sources, as well as use them in the most appropriate manner. In addition to this, a variety of practical illustrations on how research references should appear in academic papers, dissertations, amongst other types of research publications is also provided.

Study-unit Aims:

The objective of the study-unit is to provide BA students with a solid methodological background as well as the practical knowledge necessary to pursue social science research, particularly in the domain of European Studies. Therefore, the unit aims at acquainting students into the basic research skills, stimulating and reinforcing their professional attitude in doing research, and providing them the background needed for developing their BA thesis.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- learn about the use and purpose of research in social science;
- identify good quality research;
- identify of ethical implications when doing research;
- define basic theoretical (political, economic and legal theories which constitute the main pillars of the European Studies course) outlooks which will have causal effects on research at various stages;
- Identify and assess different research orientations within an area of study such as qualitative and quantitative methodologies, amongst others;
- acquire knowledge of different research styles, for instance survey research, case-study research, comparative studies, amongst others;
- Identify various methods of collecting, organizing and analyzing data;
- understand the importance of appropriate and suitable ways of presenting, communicating and disseminating data.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- draft a proper proposal for a research project;
- search for relevant information deriving from primary and secondary sources from libraries and electronic resources;
- conduct a proper literature review besides acquire the ability to perceive main conclusions deriving from the research;
- understand pluralism in social science research methods and identify the best method in addressing a research question;
- develop an argument and keep track record of references to be inputted properly in the research;
- analyse data;
- summarize ideas in his/her own words.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Andersen, Svein S. 2003. «‘On a clear day you can see the EU’. Case Study Methodology in EU Research». ARENA Workin Paper Series 16(03). (available online)
- Bezzina J. (2007) Methodology. A style Manual for the Writing of term papers, dissertations and theses, Gaulitana, Malta.
- Burnham P; Gilland K; Grant W; Layton-Henry Z. (2008) Research Methods in Politics, Palgrave, UK.
- Della Porta, Donatella, e Michael Keating. 2008. Approaches and methodologies in the social sciences: a pluralist perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Kellstedt, Paul M. 201x. The Fundamentals of Political Science Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Marsh D. & Stoker G. (2002) Theory and Methods in Political Science, Palgrave, UK.
- Packer M. (2011) The Science of Qualitative Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Supplementary Readings:

- Bennett, Andrew, e Colin Elman. 2006. «Qualitative Research: Recent Developments in Case Study Methods». Annual Review of Political Science 9: 455-476.
- Cini, Michelle, e Angela K. Bourne. 2006. European Union studies. Basingstoke England: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Dowding, Keith. 2001. «There Must Be End to Confusion: Policy Networks, Intellectual Fatigue, and the Need for Political Science Methods Courses in British Universities». Political Studies 49(1): 89-105.
- Dunleavy, Patrick. 2003. Authoring a PhD. How to Plan, Draft, Write, and Finish a Doctoral Thesis or Dissertation. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
- King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane, e Sidney Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry. Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
- Landman T. (2000) Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics, Routledge, UK.
- Lewis-Beck, M. S. 1995. Data analysis: An introduction. Sage.
- Pahre, Robert. 2005. «Formal Theory and Case-Study Methods in EU Studies». European Union Politics 6(1): 113-145.
- Raisch M. (2002) European Union Law: An Integrated Guide to Electronic and Print Research, LLRX (Web address:
- Silverman D. (2006) Interpreting Qualitative Data, Sage Publications Ltd, 3rd Edition.

ADDITIONAL NOTES This study-unit is only offered to Bachelor of European Studies/Bachelor of European Studies (Hons) students.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Group Learning & Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Classwork SEM1 No 50%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Raylene Abdilla
Jean Claude Cachia
Susanna Thede

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.