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Using Participatory Research Methods in Political Science Research

Course Dates and Times

Monday 7 – Friday 11 August 2023
Minimum 2 hours of live teaching per day
09:30 – 12:00 CEST

Jo Howard

University of Sussex

This online seminar offers a dynamic and interactive learning experience, combining theoretical and conceptual learning with practical sessions using advanced online pedagogical tools. The course is tailored for researchers and doctoral students seeking to develop participatory research skills. It is limited to a maximum of 16 participants, allowing the instructor to provide personalized attention to each individual.

Purpose of the course

By the end of this course, you will:

  • understand how to use appropriate PR methods within a research process;
  • appreciate the ethical, political and practical challenges involved;
  • learn the conceptual and practical tools necessary for designing and carrying out participatory research in your PhD or research project.

The interactive sessions allow you to share knowledge with other researchers, providing space to generate new ideas and solutions. The course will be delivered synchronously online. Between each session, there will be additional tasks for both individuals and groups.

Prior to the course, you’ll be asked to think of a critical question you are addressing in your research project. Over the week, you will explore this question and practice designing your own participatory research process.

ECTS Credits

4 credits - Engage fully in class activities and complete a post-class assignment

Instructor Bio

Jo Howard is a Research Fellow and Leader of the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. She also co-convenes the Master’s programme in Participation, Power and Social Change.

Jo's work is focused on participatory and action research processes with people living in poverty and marginalisation. Additionally, Jo designs, delivers and advises on training and learning processes in Participatory Research and reflective and collaborative learning.


Key topics covered

Day 1: Introduction
  • Introduction to key theories and approaches in PR
  • Analysis of the key concepts (in particular, participation, power, complexity, change) 
  • Introduction to ethics and care in PR

You will relate these concepts to your own practice.

Day 2: Presentation and discussion

You will analyse two case studies of participatory research and the specific methods used in them. One case study will focus on international development, using storytelling and collective analysis, while the other will be based on a UK context and will utilise cooperative inquiry with visual methods. These case studies will draw on the Instructors' own experiences in participatory research, addressing issues such as slavery and bonded labour in Bangladesh and Nepal, as well as citizenship and marginalisation in the UK.

Following this, you will participate in small-group discussions to reflect on the methods presented, and these reflections may continue beyond the class.

Day 3: Practice

Participate in small group sessions to practice one or more of the presented methods. The Instructor will provide practical and interactive guidance on facilitation and documentation.

Day 4: Design surgery I

In small groups, you will discuss a question from your research connected to the methods presented, followed by a practical training session in design and process principles. You will start to develop a plan for your participatory research process, with after-class support from peers, the Instructor and Teaching Assistant.

Day 5: Design surgery II

In small groups, you will continue to work on your participatory research plans and generate questions for the group, the Instructor and Teaching Assistant. the course will close with a final Q&A session and guidance on accessing further PR resources.

How the course will work online

The course consists of asynchronous pre-class assignments such as readings, individual reflection, and small peer-group discussions on emerging research plans, and daily 2.5-hour live sessions on Zoom. Presentations will be combined with Q&A sessions and small-group work.

Throughout the course, you will work collaboratively in Miro. If you are unfamiliar with this software, there will be a one-hour introductory session in advance of the course.

No prior experience in participatory research methods is required, but some knowledge of qualitative research methods is recommended.

Each course includes pre-course assignments, including readings and pre-recorded videos, as well as daily live lectures totalling at least three hours. The instructor will conduct live Q&A sessions and offer designated office hours for one-to-one consultations.

Please check your course format before registering.

Online courses

Live classes will be held daily for three hours on a video meeting platform, allowing you to interact with both the instructor and other participants in real-time. To avoid online fatigue, the course employs a pedagogy that includes small-group work, short and focused tasks, as well as troubleshooting exercises that utilise a variety of online applications to facilitate collaboration and engagement with the course content.

In-person courses

In-person courses will consist of daily three-hour classroom sessions, featuring a range of interactive in-class activities including short lectures, peer feedback, group exercises, and presentations.


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc.). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.