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Research Methods and Thesis Writing


Zhang Z.

Course director


Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students should understand:

  • The general structure of the research process and the Master thesis
  • The role of ethics, norms, and trends in research design
  • The purpose and requirements of literature review
  • The principal methods of data collection and analysis (most used in previous MMM theses)
  • The elements of research argument
  • Foundational definitions related to qualitative and quantitative research

Course Description

This course introduces the central methods of media and communication research and prepares students to begin work on their Master's thesis. We proceed through each step of the research process, modeling different techniques of topic selection, literature review, data collection and analysis, and argument development. Along the way, the course discuss research ethics, intellectual norms, foundational definitions related to qualitative and quantitative research and other elements of the research process that will enable student to conduct original research with relevance to their chosen topics.

Learning Methods

The course will be structured in lectures led by the instructor.

Students will begin developing their thesis proposal from the second half of the semester, and individual meetings with the teachers on developing their projects will be undertaken.


Students must attend class for at least 60%. Teachers will not provide alternative teaching materials beyond online teaching materials presented in class.

Examination Information

The final grade will be composed of the results achieved by students:

  • Written draft thesis proposal (2,500 words, 70% of the final evaluation)
  • Presentation of the proposal (10 minutes, 20% of the final evaluation)
  • In-class participation (60% minimum) (10% of the final evaluation)

The thesis proposal should include: a description of the research context; a discussion of relevant academic literature (5-10 articles); a clear statement of the research question or set of questions (no more than 5); an explanation of the research method and a justification of its selection and a bibliography (in APA style).


Required Material

The main study material for this course are the “lecture notes” and “example papers” compiled by the teachers and published on the platform.


Further readings are not mandatory but highly recommended:

Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 5th Edition.

Croucher, Stephen M. & Cronn-Mills, Daniel. (2015). Understanding Communication Research Methods: a theoretical and practical approach. Routledge: New York.

Merrigan, G., & Huston, C. (2009). Communication Research Methods (2nd Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wimmer, Roger D., and Dominick, Joseph R. (2006). Mass Media Research: An Introduction (10th Edition), Wadsworth, Cengage Learning: Boston.