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Unit of study_

GOVT2991: Political Analysis

This unit introduces students to the diversity of theoretical and methodological approaches used by politics and international relations scholars. 'What is politics?' and 'how can we understand it?' are questions used to explore conceptual approaches, ranging from behaviouralism to feminism, and the way in which social science research is designed and conducted.


Academic unit Government and International Relations
Unit code GOVT2991
Unit name Political Analysis
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

12 credit points at 1000 level in GOVT and a minimum of 36 credit points
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Sarah Cameron,
Lecturer(s) Sarah Cameron ,
Tutor(s) Henry Maher ,
Jordan McSwiney,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Evidence and values report
30% - 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Final exam Take-home exam
1000 words
30% Formal exam period 2.5+ hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Online task Online discussion board
10% Ongoing whole semester
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial quiz group assignment Tutorial Exercise (I) - Qualitative methods
15% Week 05 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Tutorial quiz group assignment Tutorial Exercise (II) - Quantitative methods
15% Week 07 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
group assignment = group assignment ?
  • Practical tutorial exercises: These will comprise qualitative and quantitative research design exercises that will be completed in small groups during the tutorial.  The qualitative exercise will involve designing an interview schedule.  The quantitative exercise will involve interpreting evidence from cross-national survey data to answer a series of questions. 
  • Evidence and values report: You will be given a list of recently published articles in political science and international relations journals.  Choose ONE article from this list, read it carefully and write a report that engages critically with your chosen article.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.


Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.


For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: What is political research? Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Research design Lecture (2 hr)  
Introduction and Research Design Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 Ontology, epistemology and ethics Lecture (2 hr)  
Ontology, epistemology and ethics Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 04 Qualitative Methods (I): Data collection Lecture (2 hr)  
Qualitative Methods (I): Data collection Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 05 Qualitative Methods (II): Data analysis Lecture (2 hr)  
Tutorial Exercise (I) - Qualitative methods (15%) Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 06 Quantitative Methods (I): Data collection Lecture (2 hr)  
Quantitative Methods (I): Data collection Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 07 Quantitative Methods (II): Data analysis Lecture (2 hr)  
Tutorial Exercise (II) - Quantitative methods (15%) Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 08 Institutionalism Lecture (2 hr)  
Institutionalism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 09 Postcolonialism Lecture (2 hr)  
Postcolonialism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 10 Constructivism Lecture (2 hr)  
Constructivism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 11 Feminism Lecture (2 hr)  
Feminism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 12 Comparative approaches Lecture (2 hr)  
Comparative approaches Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 Political theory / Conclusion Lecture (2 hr)  
Political theory / Conclusion Tutorial (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

  • Required textbook: Theory and Methods in Political Science, Vivien Lowndes, David Marsh & Gerry Stoker, eds., (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 4th Ed., 2018).

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Understand a wide range of approaches employed by researchers in politics and international relations.
  • LO2. Develop an understanding of the differences between primary and secondary sources of evidence, and their value in conducting social research.
  • LO3. Develop an understanding of qualitative and quantitative research approaches in the social sciences and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • LO4. Develop skills to critically engage with published research in the social sciences, by understanding the process of how research is conducted.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
Changes to this course include greater integration between lectures and tutorials, and having fewer contributing lecturers overall.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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