Department of Politics and International Relations

Research Methods Training


Research Methods for Political Theory:



Hilary Term 2002

Fridays 10.00 a.m. Weeks 1,2,3,4,7 & 8

DPIR George Street



Aims and Objectives

The objectives of this course are to introduce students to the techniques and methods of critical analysis of political theory texts, covering a range of alternative methodological approaches, and to enable them to research, analyse, and prepare a critical introduction to a political theory text.  The aim is to introduce, discuss and practice techniques of analysis including conceptual analysis and conceptual history,  hermeneutics, the formalisation of argument, and the contextual interpretation of texts.



Course Organisation

The course will be taught in six workshop sessions in Hilary Term.  In the first three sessions the theory and methodology of political theory will be be studied.  In the final three sessions students, in a workshop setting, will practice the critical interpretation of historical texts.


Course Outline

Week 1           Hermeneutics and Conceptual History

            R Koselleck Futures Past pp 73-91  (a copy of this will be available at the Desk in the PIRS Library)

            Q Skinner ‘Language and Political Change’ and  J Farr ‘Understanding conceptual change politically’ in T Ball, J Farr and R L Hanson (eds) Political Innovation and Conceptual Change


Week 2           Structural Analysis of Concepts and Formal Analysis of Argument

            D Gauthier The Logic of Leviathan  ch4

            Elizabeth Frazer, ch 2 Problems of Communitarian Politics


Week 3           Context and Practice

            J Tully (ed) Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and his critics

            Q Skinner  Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes esp Introduction and chs 10 & 11


Week 4           Workshop: Analysis of the United States Declaration of Independence


Weeks 7 & 8  Workshop on students’ own analytic work



Participants in this course are required to prepare a critical introduction to any one historical text from this list:


Mary Astell A Serious Proposal to the Ladies 1697

Mary Astell Reflections upon marriage  1703

Annie Besant Is socialism sound? 1887

Annie Besant Socialism versus Individualism 1890

Harriet Martineau ‘Female Industry’ in The Edinburgh Review, London 1859

Christabel Pankhurst The great scourge and how to end it. 1913

Christabel  Pankhurst International militancy, a speech. 1915

Emmeline Pankhurst LLoyd George takes the mask off. 1920

T.H. Green, Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract 1881.

H.J. Laski, Socialism  and Freedom Fabian Tract, 1925

Sidney Webb, 'Eugenics and the Poor Law' 1910 + S. Herbert, 'Eugenics and Socialism' 1910

J.A. Hobson, 'The Re-Statement of Democracy' 1902,

J.M.Keynes, (three essays): The End of Laissez-faire'; 'Am I a Liberal?';

'Liberalism and Labour' - in J.M. Keynes, Essays in Persuasion 1931.

A.J. Balfour, 'Decadence' in Essays Speculative and Political 1920, pp. 3-52.

Wordsworth Donisthorpe, 'Liberty or Law?' 1885.

The Primrose League – objects of the league ....  London 1885

Any suitable article from The Anti-Suffrage Review

Any suitable article from The Edinburgh Review

Any suitable article from Votes for Women







Candidates MAY choose a text other than those on this list, but approval must be sought from course tutors.