I have been an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University since September 2011 and during this time have taught ten different courses on a range of topics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Below you will find descriptions and syllabi for several of the courses that I teach regularly.
Politics and the Media
This course examines the interactions between mass media institutions and actors, on the one hand, and politicians, political institutions, and citizens, on the other, and we will be centrally concerned with scrutinizing the functions that the mass media must fulfill in order to support democratic functioning. What effects, for example, do the media have on citizens’ political knowledge? Are there certain types of information that the media simply do not provide to the public? Is the news biased toward certain political actors and their points of view? How are the internet and social media changing the media-politics landscape?
We will apply theories of democratic deliberation, journalistic practices, and political behavior to better understand these questions and more.
At the end of the course, students should find themselves better equipped to:
Understand the ways in which media and politics interact in democratic societies, from both theoretical and empirical perspectives.
Evaluate the quality of media reporting.
Qualitative Research Methods
The course is designed to help students develop their research skills in qualitative methods. The course covers three broad topics: (1) the debate between quantitative and qualitative methods in political science. (2) the design of qualitative studies, (3) the practicalities of doing qualitative research.
At the end of the course, students should have improved their understanding of and ability to assess the debate over the appropriate use of quantitative and qualitative methods in political science, as well as their ability to carry out qualitative research.
This course employs a technique called “flipping the classroom.” Lectures are posted online, and students are expected to come to class sessions having watched the lectures. Class sessions will then be used for group exercises that provide hands-on experience with the applicable concepts, theories, and methods.
Advanced Academic & Professional Skills
The aims of this course are to (1) improve students’ ability to develop thoughtful, interesting, and well-designed research projects, and (2) improve students’ skills in persuasively presenting the ideas behind, as well as the findings resulting from, their research.
The course is divided into two parts, brought together by students’ work on the core course assignment—a policy report.
Research Design and Writing
In this component of the course, students will work with their instructors and classmates to develop compelling research questions built around specific policy issues, devise sound schemes for understanding and assessing these issues, and provide policy recommendations for these issues.
In the presentation component of the course, participants will acquire the skills required to give a talk in front of a critical audience. Each participant will give a presentation, followed by a group discussion of the contents of that presentation.
This course will consist of traditional lectures, pre-recorded video lectures, seminars, and in-class group assignments. Pre-recorded video lectures will be used in weeks 3, 4, and 5. In each case, students are expected to watch the video lecture before attending the class session. The video lectures will introduce that week’s main themes and will also guide students in the completion of that week’s assignment. During the class meetings in these same weeks, students will engage in in-class group assignments. The main function of these assignments is to provide students with adequate time and opportunity to prepare their Policy Presentations and Policy Reports.