Multidisciplinary Research Design in Social Sciences

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Multidisciplinary Research Design in Social Sciences

  • Host University

    Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

  • Location

    Madrid, Spain

  • Area of Study

    International Studies, Political Science, Research

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Multidisciplinary Research Design in Social Sciences
    Bachelor in International Studies
    ECTS Credits: 6.0
    Semester: 2


    - Ability to work in groups
    - Ability to communicate ideas in oral and written form
    - Capacity to organize and plan research and inquiry both individually and/or in groups
    - Capacity to organize and analyse complex information.
    - Understand existing theory and to understand the main views in academic debates and identifying the relevant pieces of empirical evidence used to sustain positions.

    Specific Ability to:
    - Formulate a research problems/question
    - Develop concepts and typologies to help analysing a specific research topic.
    - Theorize : Construct theory and provide explanations addressing a research problem/question on an individual basis.
    - Extract hypotheses from a theory
    - Find data and define measures that address a specific research problem
    o Identify, organize, and analyze information in a critical and systematic way
    o Identify methods for analysing data and measurement.
    o Knowledge of quantitative and qualitative techniques and ability to choose which is most adequate to apply in different fields of social sciences.
    o Hypothesis testing
    o Explore the relationship between theory, methods, and the broader goals of research.


    The main goal is to prepare the students, and provide them with basic skills, to undertake rudimentary research and inquiry in the field of social sciences with a special emphasis on questions in the area of international studies like:

    - International economy
    - Globalization
    - International inequality
    - Supranational institutions
    - International policy making
    - Historical legacies
    - Migration and assimilation
    - Pandemics
    - Climate change
    - Poverty
    - Organized crime

    The course focuses on teaching the students the meaning and relevance of theory for inquiry and research in the social sciences. All aspects of the research process are covered such as:
    - Questions
    - Theories
    - Hypotheses
    - Research design and hypothesis-testing
    - Evidence
    - Implications

    Particular emphasis is put on the art of theorizing the technique of theory construction with an aim to explain social and societal phenomena. The course will provide the students a first contact with how to use theory, data and methods in a coherent way to enable a systematic study of a social or societal phenomenon. The course will show how questions through theorising can be turned into theory. Theories motivate hypotheses which in turn can be contrasted by means of collection of empirical evidence and data. We will assess the feedbacks between empirical evidence and theories. We aim to show how new or better evidence shape theories, and how theories also discipline the enquiry into the social world by affecting measurement instruments, or by focussing the attention on specific types of evidence. We will discuss what measurement means, what guides measurement, and the problems of various sorts of evidence and the alternative research designs involved (experimental, comparative historical, statistical). We will then elaborate on how evidence informs the generation development of theory and hypotheses with a view to make causal claims that can aid policy making and policy strategies at all levels of society.


    The course is divided in theoretical and practical sessions. The theoretical sessions are a mixture of lecturing and discussion of readings given in advance of each theoretical session. For each class students should take notes on the reading and be prepared to engage in discussion on the reading for that week based on his/her notes. Students should prepare half to one page of written notes based on the readings organized in dictionary like entries which seem relevant to the student. These notes should be handed in but are not graded.

    The practical classes consist of three exercises in how to theorize and research. Each student will carry out three small empirical research tasks in theorizing and document these. Each exercise spans three practical sessions.

    Session 1) Find a topic and provide some data on it.
    Session 2) develop a name, some concepts, a typology and the like that help to analyse the chosen phenomenon.
    Session 3) come up with an explanation of the chosen phenomenon.

    For each class, students should prepare half to one pages of writing on what they have come up with in relation to # 1, # 2 or # 3. These notes should be handed in.

    There are four tasks for the students to carry out to get a grade.
    1) Participating in the discussion. Doing the reading(s) for each class and notes while doing so;
    2) Carry out the theorizing exercises
    3)Producing the paper for the class. (Individual or Group maximum 3 students per group)
    4)Short final exam

    The paper consists of turning one exercise in to a small research report of no more than 2000 words. In the case students choose to do a group exercise, the grading is uniform across group members.


    - Class participation Mandatory (Grades Exam and Research paper will not be graded if students fail to hand in 80% of the hand-ins mentioned above)
    - Exam 50 % of the grade
    - Project 50 % of the grade


    Abbott, Andrew. Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences. Norton. 2004
    Booth, Wayne C.,, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research . University of Chicago Press. 1995
    Charles Lave and James G. March. An Introduction to Models in the Social Sciences . University Press of America. 1974
    Durkheim, Emile . Rules of Sociological Method. The Free Press. 1982
    Maddison, Angus. The World Economy. A Milleneal Perspective . OECD. 1996
    Merton, Robert K.. On Theoretical Sociology. The Free Press. 1967
    Morgan, Mary S.. The World in a Model. How Economists Work and Think . Cambridge University Press. 2012
    Schelling, Thomas C. . Micromotives and Macrobehavior . Norton. 1978
    Stinchcombe, Arthur. Constructing Social Theories. University of Chicago Press. 1987
    Swedberg Richard . The Art of Social Theory: The Context of Discovery . Stanford University Press. 2014


    Coyle, Diane. GDP. A Brief but Affectionate History . Princeton University Press. 2014
    Crosby, Alfred W. . The Measurement of Reality. Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600. Cambridge University Press. 1997
    Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Doubleday. 1957
    McCloskey, Deirdre N.. The Rhetoric of Economics . University of Wisconsin Press. 1998
    Mills, C. Wright. The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press. 2000

Course Disclaimer

Please note that there are no beginning level Spanish courses offered in this program.

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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