2023-2024 / SPOL2330-2

Methodology in political science (theory)


30h Th, 15h Pr

Number of credits

 Bachelor in law5 crédits 
 Bachelor in political sciences : general4 crédits 


Céline Parotte

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The way we know and understand the world is inseparable from the way we report on it. What distinguishes scientific knowledge from other modes of knowledge? How can we think about scientific methods and their power to describe, but also to shape and structure social realities? The objective of the course is to distinguish the different ways of doing science and the conditions of production of a scientific fact.

This course aims to acquire the basic principles of research in political science, based on a mainly qualitative approach. The course prepares students to elaborate, conduct and present the results of their future research projects (in their university course but also in their professional context). 

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

By the end of the course, the students will be able to carry out a rigorous and empirically based analysis of social and political phenomena. For that purpose, students are expected to :

  • define and describe the terms and concepts deployed in the different parts of the course;
  • reproduce the notions and the link between epistemological reasoning raised in the course;
  • define and describe the research methods in political science, but also identify these in the context of field research;
  • assess the relevance of the techniques in light of a given issue and situation;
  • distance themselves critically and analytically from the information collected.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Co-requisite :

SPOL2331-1  Analysis of public policies (theory)- Celine Parotte


Planned learning activities and teaching methods

This course is structured in three theoretical modules (conception, implementation and critique of a research design) and provides general training in the scientific approach and qualitative methods essential in political science. It is based on an existing syllabus co-authored and coordinated in 2021 in collaboration with several members of the Spiral Research Centre, who were called upon for their specific expertise in a research method.

Each class session is divided into four parts: 1) discussion of the key elements of the theoretical chapter, based on prior reading by the student; 2) ex cathedra presentation of the theoretical essentials; 3) practical case analysed in group; 4) evaluation of the level of knowledge acquired at the end of the session.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:


Recommended or required readings

Syllabus :

Parotte et al (2022), Méthodologie qualitative en sciences politiques, Syllabus SPOL2330-2 Méthodologie en science politique (théorie),  PAROTTE Céline, p.270

Reading portfolio (made available to students on MyULiège and must be read before the related session (see schedule for introductory session):

1. Della Porta D., Keating M., 2008, « How many approaches in the social sciences? An epistemological introduction »,  in D. Della Porta, M. Keating (dir.), Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 19-39.

2. Pinson G., Sala Pala V., 2007, « Peut-on vraiment se passer de l'entretien en
sociologie de l'action publique ? », Revue française de science politique 2007/5 (Vol.
57), p. 555-597

3. Braun V., Clarke V., 2006, « Using thematic analysis in psychology », Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2), pp. 77-101.

Other recommended reading (considered as a pre-requis):

- Van Campenoudt L. et Quivy R., 2017, Manuel de recherche en sciences sociales, Paris: Dunod

Written work / report

Continuous assessment

Out-of-session test(s)

Additional information:

Written work / report

Continuous assessment

Out-of-session test(s)

Additional information:

Written work / report

Continuous assessment

Out-of-session test(s)

Additional information:

Continuous assessment throughout the year: This course is assessed continuously throughout the semester. These assessment activities are not exempt in that they replace the first semester written/oral exam.

There are three assessment activities. Each of them is set up throughout the year to test the acquisition of effective skills (knowledge and know-how of the student), either individually or collectively.

Module 1/Continuous assessment of the first four theoretical sessions: 30% of the final grade.

The first four sessions focus on the essential theoretical elements to be acquired in the course "methodology in political science".

To prepare for this assessment, students must have read the associated theory chapter and the supplemental reading prior to the session.

To prepare for the evaluation at the end of the session: a Q/A session is organized beforehand, a theoretical reminder of the essentials of the day's session followed by one or several practical exercises.

At the end of the session, the student answers a theoretical application question related to the day's session. The student submits his/her proposed answers to a peer for discussion. The student is then required to electronically encode his/her response on ecampus individually on the same day before 6:00 pm.

Module 2/Practical Written Work: Conducting, transcribing and analyzing a semi-structured interview: 30% of the final grade.

Conducting an individual interview with a member of the Belgian administration (regardless of the level of power) who has initiated or implemented a participatory exercise (inclusion of the public or experts) on a public policy of your choice in groups of 2: 30% of the final score

Preparation for the interview with a reading packet

Full transcript of the interview

Uploading of the interview on Corpus (free software from the Faculty) and thematic coding

Thematic analysis of the interview (2 pages)

Submission of the work on december 2022

Module 3/ Evaluation and experimentation of a participatory method suggested by the King Baudouin Foundation "Present for the future": 40% of the final grade. Attendance is compulsory for both sessions.

The students will experiment and evaluate, in groups, the three methods suggested in the toolkit by the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF) "Present for the future" during two course sessions specifically dedicated to this purpose. On 20/11 and 27/11.

The methods are available at this address: https://www.presentspourlefutur.be/lancez-vous-et-telechargez-les-methodologies-0

It involves:

Preparing and reading the three methods before the course session.

Taking an active part in the discussions.

Taking notes on the day and summarising them.

Filling in the FRB form and an evaluation grid.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

- Failure to attend a module will automatically result in a second session.

- Attendance is compulsory for the "conducting an interview", "analysing an interview", "conducting and analysing a focus group" and "experimenting with an unusual method" sessions. Any absence must be justified by a medical certificate within 48 hours, to be sent to Mrs Dodion.


Lecturer : Céline Parotte (celine.parotte@uliege.be)

Research and Teaching Assistant: Hélène Dodion (helene.dodion@uliege.be)

Teaching assistant : Pauline Bissot (pauline.bissot@student.uliege.be)

Association of one or more MOOCs

There is no MOOC associated with this course.