Fall 2023 - IS 300 D100

Research Methods in International Studies (4)

Class Number: 4441

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Fri, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    IS 101 and 45 units.



Introduces the research enterprise in International Studies.


This course adopts a critical approach to examine the processes and methods of global knowledge production. The question that centers our discussions throughout the course is: Who gets to produce what kinds of knowledge, for whom, and how? This seminar is a survey course, designed to cover a wide range of methodologies; it does not provide intensive training in any single approach. The course is designed as a site of intellectual practice; while we will focus on technique, the seminar is less a “how to” step-by-step guide, and more a space to discuss what makes compelling scholarship.


This course has three main pedagogical objectives:

(1) Develop greater understanding of competing social scientific approaches to knowledge,

(2) Distinguish between different approaches to knowledge in the social sciences, and critically evaluate the assumptions and arguments on which these approaches are based

(3) Gain familiarity with a range of quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection commonly used in the social sciences

(4) Practice designing a research project and write a research proposal


  • Seminar attendance and weekly tests 30%
  • Applied Methods 30%
  • Research design 30%
  • Presentation 10%



Your grade in this class will be made up of several components:

  • Seminar attendance and weekly tests (30%)

I want you to come away from this class better equipped to succeed as a social scientist, and participation is a key component of learning. All readings should be completed before class, and all students should listen to and respect the perspectives of all students in the class. 

  • Applied Methods (30%)

Throughout the semester, you will complete four hands-on exercises (5 double-spaced pages each). These should be submitted to Canvas by 11:59pm on the designated deadline. Full descriptions of the assignments are below.

  • Research design (30%)

Propose a thorough design for a do-able, dissertation-size research project on an important question in your field. Your full proposal should be 10-12 pages and should include a clear statement of the research question, an analytic review of relevant literature, a clear explanation of your research design, a discussion of feasibility and ethics, and estimates of the project’s timetable and funding needs. A more detailed set of instructions can be found below.

  • Presentation (10%)

Students will present their research design in a mini conference on the last day of class, and each student will be assigned to offer discussant comments to a peer. Each student should present their proposed project in 10 minutes. Criteria for grading: (a) concise, presentable slides, (b) fitting the presentation to 10 minutes, (c) clearly presenting the research question, (d) briefly explaining what research agenda your project speaks to and what your contributions are, (e) briefly explaining the data collection method, (f) briefly describing the data analysis method, and (g) discussing researcher positionality.


Students will be required to submit their written assignments on Canvas. The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at:




This course does not follow a textbook. All course readings will be available electronically via SFU Library and hyperlinked through the course Canvas page.


This course does not follow a textbook. All course readings will be available electronically via SFU Library and hyperlinked through the course Canvas page.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.