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Regular version of the site
Master 2018/2019

Research Seminar

Type: Compulsory course (Politics. Economics. Philosophy)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 2 year, 1-4 module
Mode of studies: offline
Instructors: Fabian Burkhardt, Anton Kazun, Andrey N. Medushevsky, Yuliya Rodionova, Amanda Zadorian
Master’s programme: Политика. Экономика. Философия
Language: English
ECTS credits: 8

Course Syllabus


This course is based on prior knowledge obtained by students during the study of the following disciplines:  Categories of Political Science  Comparative Politics  Policy Analysis  Economics The broad goal of this course is to sharpen students’ theoretical and methodological skills, discuss with them how to choose an adequate research design, and develop critical thinking in general. The narrow goal of the course is to help students reach high quality of their MA theses and structure their research process. We will achieve these goals by introducing to students the latest mainstream works from the leading international journals in Political Science and Comparative Political Economy. We will discuss them in terms of theory and research design. Why some countries are stuck in technological backwardness, while others prosper? Why in some countries 2 people enjoy longer and healthier lives? What is the role of political institutions in answering these questions? Are bureaucrats motivated by ideology or career concerns? Also, we will introduce today’s hot topics in Political Science and tie them to the current events. What role does Internet play in contemporary social movements? Does social media help overcome collective action problem or just disseminate more information? Who are trolls and how they manipulate public opinion? Why far rights are gaining their momentum? Why did “the efficient secret” of the UK Parliament disappear when it came to Brexit? Along answering these theoretical questions, we will touch upon the empirical concerns (endogeneity problems, null-hypothesis testing in frequentist models) and their possible solutions: instrumental variables, research discontinuity design, Bayesian analysis).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main goal of this course is to familiarize students with the current trends in political science referring to key publications of recent years in academic journals which are most in demand among the professional community of political scientists. The course is aimed at developing students' critical thinking skills, it introduces them modern research methods (instrumental variables, research discontinuity design, Bayesian statistics), and also serves the purpose of forming students' standards of modern research work in the field of political science. The proposed forms of knowledge control are also aimed at improving the skills of writing critical referee reports based on the arguments presented in the articles under consideration.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • A student is able to differentiate different types of social studies, forms adequate expectations about its strengths and weaknesses. S/he is aware of the differences between natural and social sciences, knows basic epistemological strategies, applied in political science and economics
  • A student understands mechanisms through which objective knowledge and ideological preconceptions are interconnected; knows of possible errors in concept formation leading to wrong generalizations; applies rules and norms of professional ethics regulating behaviour of a researcher facing value-based challenges.
  • A student is able to develop a research proposal
  • A student is able to develop a research paper and prepare its public presentation
  • A student is able to differentiate different approaches to public policy design and strategy development. S/he knows principles and methods of growth diagnostics applied in development studies, international experiences with assessment and implementation of large-scale projects, role of interdisciplinary approach in such cases, ways of its realization
  • A student is able to develop an outline of a research paper
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction to Epistemology of Social Sciences
    Social, political, and economic domains. Gemeinschaft/Gessellschaft distinction. Variety of research types the social studies. Friedman’s methodological essay as an expression of positivist influence in the social sciences. Search for specific methodology of social inquire: the cases of Durkheim and Max Weber. Modeling in the social sciences: the current state of debates.
  • Value Judgments in Social Sciences
    Popper – Adorno debate on the logic of the social sciences. Social studies and ideology: Schumpeter’s and Max Weber’s perspectives. Concept formation and misformation. Truth-seeking and relativism in social research. Professional ethics of a social scientist in a post-truth world
  • Social Change: Diagnostics and Design
    Rational modeling versus “muddling through” approach in public policy design. Strategic planning and strategic thinking. Growth diagnostics: principles and cases. Development projects: challenges and interdisciplinary responses.
  • Developing term-works literature reviews
    Literature review: selection and focusing. Choice of methods. Class discussions.
  • Preparation of term-works
    Text structuring. References and citations. Term-works pre-defenses.
  • Developing term-work proposals
    Purpose and structure. Formulation of a topic. Class discussions.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Participation
  • non-blocking Quizzes
  • non-blocking Summaries
    1 page which should include: research question, causal inference, hypothesis, results.
  • non-blocking Literature Review
  • non-blocking Referee Reports
    Students can choose any research article (non-journalistic) for review from both the required and additional literature. Referee reports should not exceed 3 pages, 12 Times New Roman, double spacing. The reports are expected to provide a meaningful, detailed analysis of the article (strengths and weaknesses, valid criticism, suggestions for improvement), as well as the students’ opinion on the topic. A review in the format of a brief retelling of the article will not be evaluated. Only ONE review can be written on one topic
  • non-blocking Defense
    Upon receipt of an unsatisfactory grade for the first retake, the student is entitled to a second attempt. In this case, all materials will be evaluated by a commission of three people.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.3 * Defense + 0.15 * Literature Review + 0.2 * Participation + 0.05 * Quizzes + 0.15 * Referee Reports + 0.15 * Summaries


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Akerlof, G. A. (1970). The Market for “Lemons”: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.CAA2734F
  • Albert O. Hirschman. (2011). Development Projects Observed. [N.p.]: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=2024537
  • Boudon, R. (2003). The Social Sciences and the Two Types of Relativism. Comparative Sociology, 2(3), 423–440. https://doi.org/10.1163/156913303100418861
  • Colander, D. (2005). From Muddling Through to the Economics of Control: Views of Applied Policy from J. N. Keynes to Abba Lerner. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.9ABF958F
  • Dieguez, S. (2017). Post-Truth: The Dark Side of the Brain. Scientific American Mind, 28(5), 43. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericanmind0917-43
  • Eco, U., Farina, G., & Mongiat Farina, C. (2015). How to Write a Thesis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=963778
  • Emile Durkheim, & Steven Lukes. (2014). The Rules of Sociological Method : And Selected Texts on Sociology and Its Method. [N.p.]: Free Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1963188
  • Erik Angner. (2006). Economists as experts: Overconfidence in theory and practice. Journal of Economic Methodology, (1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501780600566271
  • Hausman, D. M. (2008). The Philosophy of Economics. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.cup.cbooks.9780521709842
  • Lindblom, C. E. (2010). The Science of “Muddling” Through. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 12(1), 70–80. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=bsu&AN=51783676
  • Morgenbesser, L. (2014). Elections in Hybrid Regimes: Conceptual Stretching Revived. Political Studies, 62(1), 21–36. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9248.12020
  • Nabrendorf, R. O. (1949). Max Weber on the Methodology of the Social Sciences. American Sociological Review, 14(6), 821–822. https://doi.org/10.2307/2086694
  • Ricardo Hausmann, Bailey Klinger, & Rodrigo Wagner. (2008). Doing Growth Diagnostics in Practice: A “Mindbook.” CID Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.cid.wpfacu.177
  • Rickman, H. P. (1976). The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (Book). British Journal of Sociology, 27(4), 509–510. https://doi.org/10.2307/590190
  • Rodrik, D. (2015). Economics Rules : Why Economics Works, When It Fails, and How To Tell The Difference. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1052377
  • Sartori, G. (1970). Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics. American Political Science Review, (04), 1033. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v64y1970i04p1033.1053.13
  • Schumpeter, J. A. (1949). Science and Ideology. American Economic Review, 39(2), 345–359. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=bsu&AN=8728687
  • Sugden, R. (2000). Credible worlds: the status of theoretical models in economics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 7(1), 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/135017800362220
  • The Washington consensus reconsidered : towards a new global governance / ed. by Narcís Serra . (2008). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.273311514
  • Wachs, M. (2018). Bent Flyvbjerg, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017). 600 pp. $150.00 (cloth), ISBN: 9780198732242. Public Administration Review, 78(5), 816–818. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.12984
  • Weber, M., & Tribe, K. (2019). Economy and Society : A New Translation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=2012211

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Alacevich, M. (2012). Visualizing Uncertainties, or how Albert Hirschman and the World Bank disagreed on project appraisal and development approaches. Policy Research Working Paper Series. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.wbk.wbrwps.6260
  • Aleskerov, F. (2009). How to Prepare and Write a Thesis? Advices to PhD and Ms Students in Economics Studies. Journal of the New Economic Association, (3–4), 248. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.nea.journl.y2009i3.4p248.258
  • Ariel Rubinstein. (n.d.). 2006): “Dilemmas of an economic theorist. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.2D2E28AA
  • Axel Leijonhufvud. (1973). Life Among The Econ. Economic Inquiry, (3), 327. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.1973.tb01065.x
  • Blaug,Mark. (1997). Economic Theory in Retrospect. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.cup.cbooks.9780521577014
  • DeMartino, G. F., & McCloskey, D. N. (2018). Professional Ethics 101: A Reply to Anne Krueger’s Review of The Oxford Handbook of Professional Economic Ethics. Econ Journal Watch, 15(1), 4–19. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=bsu&AN=128779271
  • Giovanni Sartori. (1991). Comparing and Miscomparing. Journal of Theoretical Politics, (3), 243. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.sae.jothpo.v3y1991i3p243.257
  • Gordon, S. (1991). The History and Philosophy of Social Science. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=77205
  • Hidalgo, C. A., & Hausmann, R. (2013). The Atlas of Economic Complexity : Mapping Paths to Prosperity (Vol. Updated edition). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=686113
  • I. Gilboa, A. Postlewaite, L. Samuelson, & D. Schmeidler. (2015). Economic Models as Analogies. VOPROSY ECONOMIKI. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.nos.voprec.2015.04.6
  • Karl Marx. (2011). Capital (Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy) : A Critique of Political Economy). [N.p.]: Digireads.com Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1536502
  • Mäki, U. (2009). The Methodology of Positive Economics : Reflections on the Milton Friedman Legacy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=279902
  • Marx, K., Arthur, C. J., & Engels, F. (2001). The German Ideology. London: Electric Book Co. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=476798
  • Murray, R. (2011). How to Write a Thesis (Vol. 3rd ed). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=375106
  • Rodrik, D. (DE-588)121942325, (DE-576)164981713. (2007). One economics, many recipes : globalization, institutions, and economic growth / Dani Rodrik. Princeton [u.a.]: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.26523039X
  • Stenmark, M., Fuller, S., & Zackariasson, U. (2018). Relativism and Post-Truth in Contemporary Society : Possibilities and Challenges. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1897308
  • Zamora Bonilla, J. P., & Jarvie, I. C. (2011). The SAGE Handbook of the Philosophy of Social Sciences. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=509313