Spring 2024 - POL 200W D100

Investigating Politics: Research Design and Qualitative Methods (4)

Class Number: 5282

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Mon, 2:30–4:20 p.m.



Introduces different aspects of research design in political science, as well as different qualitative research techniques and the epistemological perspectives that inform them. Introduces important analytical and conceptual skills necessary to understand and evaluate political science research. Students with credit for POL 200 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


The single most valuable set of skills as a political scientist, and for almost any other liberal arts majors, is the ability to think critically, write analytically, and develop and communicate a clear, logical argument.  Although most students will not become academics, these skills will serve you no matter of your chosen career.

The core goal of this course is to help you acquire these skills.  That is, to read qualitative political science research, and to begin to write it.  Where most courses in university are about learning about the world, this course askes a different set of questions, and requires us to read research in a different way.  We are not reading, to ask the question “what does this tell us about the world?”  Rather, we are reading to answer questions like, “how did they put that knowledge together?” or “How do they know what they claim to know, and (why) can we trust it?”.  Learning to read research papers is an important skill; simply doing that in this course will serve you well through the rest of your studies, and beyond.

Learning to understand, interpret, criticize, and apply different methods is a crucial step in becoming a consumer of knowledge, and eventually an innovative producer as well.


  • Tutorial Participation 15%
  • Assignment 1: Article Analysis 20%
  • Four Weekly Journals 15%
  • Assignment 2: Qualitative Textual Analysis 20%
  • Final Project: Research Design & Case Selection 30%



The course has one required textbook. It is available electronically through the university bookstore and elsewhere. Other readings assigned during the semester will be available online, or through the library or course Canvas website.

Christopher Howard, Thinking Like a Political Scientist (University of Chicago Press, 2017)


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.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

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