Taught Masters Modules: POL6225 - Advanced Political Analysis

Level: MA
Credits: 15

Module Leader: Professor Colin Hay


This module deals with the use of theory and meta-theory in politics and international relations. It begins with an examination of the nature of explanation and understanding in the social sciences before examining a series of key theoretical and meta-theoretical debates within the discipline. Amongst the topics to be covered are the relationship between ontology and epistemology, the structure-agency debate and the role of ideas in political analysis. The module concludes by reviewing the theoretical and meta-theoretical choices of influential schools of thought within the discipline.


This module aims to provide an advanced level of understanding of issues related to the theoretical basis of research in political science/international relations. By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Display an understanding of philosophical and methodological issues related to the conduct of research in the social sciences and in particular in political science, social theory and international relations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key theoretical debates in various areas of political science, social theory and international relations.
  • Display an understanding of influential and innovative works in these disciplines and to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of their different approaches, as well as to recognise their differences.
  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, including the ability to evaluate advanced concepts and theories, to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement.


  • Essay: 100%

What our Students Say:

"Good to run through the statistical techniques being used each week at the start of the seminar, really helpful."

"The way Maria encourages students were the best teaching methods that I experienced in Sheffield Univ. so far."

"The module tutor was very very helpful. She pointed out exactly what was the problem and encouraged me to do my best for the assignment."