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We frequently get questions about upcoming post graduate courses on Interpretive Policy Analysis. Here you can find links to upcoming courses that are offered by various members of the IPA network.  Please contact us at contact@ipa.science if you would like to alert the network of any policy or political science teaching that is methodologically interpretivist in orientation such as courses, master classes, summerschools, winterschools, etc.

Interpretivist Methods in the Social Sciences

Where: Australian National University
When: First semester 2024
Who: Dr April Biccum

Course information

The 20th Century witnessed profound challenges to classical knowledge paradigms in the social sciences. Approaches to the study of society and politics diversified. Critical, social, post-structuralist, post-colonial and ‘post-modern’ interventions drew attention to structures and practices of meaning-making and to the relationship between knowledge paradigms and power. Interpretivist scholars made substantial contributions to developments in the theories of language and communication, and in the ‘second order observation’ involved in varieties of discourse analysis. Scholars across a variety of disciplines are working in interpretivist traditions that depart from the  positivist paradigm adopted constructivist, thick descriptive, inductive and context-based approaches to assess, explain and understand sites and assemblages of ‘meaning making’.  

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the long tradition of Interpretivist Social Science, and to invite them to consider how its theoretical claims might inform their own epistemological and methodological decisions. The course offers practical training for students interested in modes of enquiry into the increasingly communicative, media driven, institutional and text based world in which we live that are not covered by conventional quantitative and qualitative approaches. In addition to equipping students with skills for interpretivist research design, data generation, analysis, inference, interpretation and critique, it addresses fundamental questions about the logic, conduct and significance of social scientific inquiry and the politics of knowledge in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Learning outcomes:

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. engage in epistemological debates that relate to methodological approaches;
  2. assess the diverse range of strategies and approaches available to scholars in the social sciences;
  3. develop techniques and skills appropriate to the design and conduct of interpretivist research; and
  4. assess the logics that distinguish methodologies and the creative possibilities for their assembly.

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Introduction to Interpretive Research

This five-day online course introduces the typical steps of the interpretive research process – from how to formulate interpretive research questions to how to present and document them.

What Is This Course About?
This five-days online course provides you with the skills needed to design carry out your interpretive research. The course introduces different interpretive methods and students will learn to ‘read’ and analyze texts while becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about interpretation, narrative method, and discourse analysis.

Learning Goals
After this course you will be able to:

  • operationalize interpretive research questions,
  • select and collect material for interpretation,
  • analyze material using interpretive strategies,
  • condense and present interpretive analyses.

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Interpretive Political Science Intensive Course

Where: National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton
When: 09/04/2024 – 11/04/2024
Who: Professor Rod Rhodes, Professor Jack Corbett, Dr John Boswell and Dr Tamara Metze

Course information

Many students in the social sciences, especially in political science, public policy and public administration who decide to undertake qualitative or interpretive research feel they are unqualified to do so. They express deep-seated confusion about the reliability and generalizability of data, results, and conclusions. They feel that interpretive approaches lack the type of specialised training that has become commonplace in quantitative political science. The aim of this course is to redress this gap. We will equip students with a toolkit that will enable them to both conceptualise and execute an interpretive project. 

The course covers:

  • Situating the interpretive approach in relation to other ways of doing political science research by reference to the philosophical, epistemological, and methodological assumptions on which these approaches are based;
  • The theoretical and analytical tools students need to design and conduct their research project;
  • The toolkit of methods used by interpretive scholars to collect data, including ethnographic and interview-based methods;
  • The standards that will both ensure results are reliable and maximise the impact of findings; and
  • Guidance on the norms and principles used to analyse data in an interpretive project.
  • An introduction to comparative interpretive research

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Be able to describe the strengths and features of the interpretive approach   
  • Be able to develop and justify a sophisticated design for interpretive research
  • Have experience interpreting rich qualitative data

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Every year MethodsNet runs various workshops as well as a Summerschool and a Winterschool. Courses deal with all stages of a project and cover positivist and interpretative perspectives. You can take courses on a standalone basis or combine them over one or more events to provide a fuller, more comprehensive course of training. Main courses run for one-week at Winter School, and for one-week or two-weeks at Summer School. For more information, see https://www.methodsnet.org