Spring 2020 - POL 803 G100

Qualitative Research Methods in Political Science (5)

Class Number: 5305

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 2268, Burnaby



A survey of the principles and techniques of qualitative research design, methods, and data collection tools needed to conduct systematic qualitative political science research.


This course is designed to build on POL 800, and has two aims:


a) to help you become a critical consumer of qualitative research, able to evaluate the methodology of the work in your field and to offer constructive advice to your colleagues; and

b) to give you the tools to develop a research proposal for your MA research project or thesis or your PhD dissertation. You will consider the trade-offs involved in your research design and present your proposal in a variety of formats: a conference paper proposal, a thesis methods chapter and an oral presentation.

You will be working on your own research proposal throughout all three sections of the course. We will begin by considering two of the key debates in qualitative methods: case selection and the use of process tracing in research design. Second, we will focus on specific sources of qualitative data: interviews and surveys, observation (experiments and ethnography) and documents. We will tease out which types of questions each data source is suited to, how these data can be analysed and how they can be combined. We will end the semester with the presentation of your own research and peer review of your colleagues’ work.


  • Seminar and workshop participation 10%
  • Presentation and leading seminar discussion 10%
  • Conference paper proposal 15%
  • Peer Reviews of 2 classmates’ draft research proposals 10%
  • Presentation of research proposal 20%
  • Final Research Proposal 35%


Course Organization Weekly 4-hr class, split between seminar discussion, workshops to practice data-gathering techniques and analysis techniques and small group discussion on your research proposals.



Saldaña, Johnny. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, 3rd ed. London: SAGE Publications.

Available at the SFU Bookstore.


Gerring, John. 2017. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press

Available at the SFU Bookstore. 
ISBN: 9781316632505

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html