Fall 2023 - POL 800 G100

Research Design in Political Science (5)

Class Number: 3822

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM  2023-09-06  2023-12-05
    AQ 5004, Burnaby



This course provides an introduction to designing research in political science. It aims to provide graduate students with the basic knowledge of how to set up their own research project, with an overview of the different ways in which they might do so and with the tools to critically assess existing research.


This course introduces you to designing research in political science. It aims to provide graduate students with the basic knowledge of how to set up your own research project, and with the tools to critically assess existing research. We will discuss the practicalities of research design by addressing such questions as: How do you choose a research topic and formulate a good research question? How do you write a literature review, and what exactly are “theories” and “hypotheses”? What do we mean by evidence and how do we use it to build and test theories in political science? We further discuss the importance of conceptualization and measurement, and how to select your cases and observations. A strong emphasis will be placed on evaluating other academics’ research. The course also provides a brief overview of the different ways in which political scientists collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data and materials. We will close with a discussion of how to work with your supervisor during your graduate program, and how to write up your own research.


  • Weekly participation: in-class and pre-class discussion board 10%
  • Review of an academic talk 10%
  • 3 x short papers (worth 10%; 10% and 15%) 35%
  • Group presentation 15%
  • Final paper: review of an academic article 30%


There will be a weekly 3-hour seminar. This will be a combination of short lectures, whole-class discussion of the week’s reading, small group activities, peer review and practice presentations.



Toshkov, Dimiter. (2016) Research Design in Political Science. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 9781137342843.

You do not need to buy a copy of this text. The e-book is available through the SFU Library.

Plus research articles and chapters – either available on-line through the SFU Library, or will be posted on Canvas.


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.

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 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.