This course develops skills in research design for policy analysis and planning. The emphasis is on the logic of the research process and its constituent elements. The course relies on a seminar format so students are expected to read all of the assigned materials and come to class prepared to discuss key themes, ideas, and controversies. Since the materials draw broadly on the social sciences, and since students have diverse interests and methodological preferences, ongoing themes in our discussions will be linking concepts to planning scholarship in general and considering how different epistemological orientations and methodological techniques map on to planning specializations.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures:1 session / week, 3 hours / session


This seminar requires active participation in discussions and critical reflection and assessment of the course material. While quantity matters, this portion of your grade ultimately will be based on the quality of your participation. Therefore, you should be prepared to discuss the main points of the readings, ask questions, provide constructive feedback, and generate and share critical perspectives. Some weeks I may ask you in advance to read and summarize a particular article. Other weeks I will randomly call on you to summarize the main arguments of articles and to answer questions. Your performance in these assignments and discussions will be the factors that determine your participation grade.


CNC I 5%
CNC II 10%
LG I 10%
LG II Survey 5%
LG III Interview 5%
LG IV Draft 10%
LG V Final 20%
Participation 25%

Ways to Fail 11.233

Miss Class Sessions

While it may seem obvious, you are required to attend all class sessions. If you miss more than one session during the semester you will receive a zero for your final participation grade.

Arrive Late, Leave Early

If you arrive late or leave early, you will receive a zero for participation for the day. If you arrive late or leave early more than two times, you will receive a zero for your final participation grade.

Submit Work Late or Not at all

In general, late submissions of all CNC and LG assignments will not be accepted. You will receive a zero for any assignment not turned in on time. Exceptions will be made in extraordinary circumstances, but only with written approval from the instructor prior to the submission date. If you are granted an extension for any of the assignments and you receive an incomplete for the semester, you will have until noon on 15 January to submit all outstanding work (by email). Work not received by that time will receive a zero/no credit and will be used in computing your final grade for the course.

Submit Poorly Written Work

If your work is not written in proper English or contains more than the rare typo it will be returned unread with a grade of zero/no credit. If you have difficulty writing in proper English, you should seek assistance at the MIT Writing and Communication Center. When the instructor or TA suggests you visit the writing center, you should do so. Taking offense and digging in your heels, as opposed to recognizing that we are trying to help you, will only result in your receiving your work returned unread in the future. As a rule of thumb, you should get in the habit of having your graduate student colleagues review and comment on your work before making a submission.

Exceed Specified Length for Written Work

If you are able to complete a first rate assignment in less space than is allocated, you are welcome to do so. However, if your work is longer than the specified length, or it meets the length limit only because you manipulated the fonts and/or margins, you will receive a zero/no credit.