MC Summer School 2018

Recap: The First Mapping China Summer School

From 10 September to 14 September, we were holding the first Mapping China Summer School on the topic of “Research Design and Research Methodology” in Berlin. For one week, eight participants ranging from Master to PhD level with different academic backgrounds gathered in one room to learn more about how to design a good research proposal and jointly improve their research designs. Every morning from 9am to 1pm Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop, Managing Director of the Center of Area Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, delivered input in form of a lecture. The topics ranged from the philosophy of science as the fundamental knowledge behind every research process over the circular course of the research process itself to an overview of different research methodologies and designs. During the lecture every participant was required to introduce the group to his or her research interest and question, which was continuously worked on and rephrased throughout the seminar.

On Monday evening the start of the summer school was celebrated with a keynote speech by Ting Luo, who is based as a research associate at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. She introduced the participants of the summer school and invited guests to the research project she is currently working on, namely “Authoritarianism 2.0: The Internet, Political Discussion, and Authoritarian Rule in China” led by Daniela Stockmann, Professor of Digital Politics and Media at the Hertie School of Governance. Tying back to the overall topic of the summer school she advised the participants to always keep in mind the importance of the right research question, one that is interesting, answerable and allows theoretical contributions. After the key note speech, the participants, guests, speaker, and organizers joined in a welcome gathering accompanied by Turkish food and snacks, which offered various opportunities for informal exchanges and networking.

To allow the participants to socialize and learn more about the history of Berlin, the group visited the museum “The Story of Berlin” on Tuesday afternoon and took part in an interesting guided tour through the museum. A last highlight of the summer school was a panel discussion on Thursday afternoon on the topic of “Field Research in Autocratic States”. Wiebke Rabe (Hertie School of Governance), Dorit Happ (HWR Berlin), and Jan Köhler (FU Berlin) shared their experience and provided valuable tips and tricks on how to approach field research in countries with an authoritarian system. Since many of the participants and invited guests are facing challenging political and social environments in Central and East Asia during their up-coming field trips, a lively discussion evolved covering topics like approaching interview partners in sensitive settings, working with field assistants, dealing with gender discrimination or the social pressure to consume alcohol and the challenge of not getting too involved within the setting of a field trip among others. The discussion concluded with an informal gathering over pizza and wine.

We are very happy about the extremely valuable input as well as the interesting discussions and debates which took place throughout this week. We want to thank everyone for their contribution, especially our lecturer, speakers and panelists as well as all our participant who made this summer school a success! It was a worthwhile experience!

If you are interested in participating next year, have a look at our 2018 testimonials.

“This was an excellent course that provided me with the much-needed guidance on how to write a research proposal and how to plan my PhD project over the course of 3 years. I also really liked the introduction to the relevant approached used in the philosophy of science. The Summer School was very hands-on, and I also think it had a perfect length and level of sophistication for someone who is embarking on a PhD journey. Finally, both the instructor and the organizers did a very good job! Thank you so much!”
Yana Zabanova
University of Groningen/PFH Göttingen
“The course was very helpful: everything regarding the research methods finally makes sense!”
Salome Topuria
BSEL Graduate
“First of all, the concept, format and length were just perfect for PhD students. I highly appreciate that! Other than that, it was a really perfect setting and covered the contents for research methodology in social science. Thank you so much!”
Misook Choi
PhD Researcher at “Governance in Emerging Economies"
Yellow book in grass

Call for Applications: Mapping China Summer School 2018

Call for Applications

Mapping China Summer School 2018: Research Design and Research Methodology

10th to 14th September 2018 in Berlin


Formulated in positive terms, area studies are marked by methodological pluralism. Formulated in negative terms, there is no consensus and outright disagreement on the appropriate way to approach research. As a result, many students are left with the impression that research design and methodology resemble an incomprehensive “jungle” or, what is worse, that they are not important. This is especially problematic given the potential of area studies to support not only political science but other disciplines with in-depth knowledge about various regions around the globe. Without this knowledge various disciplines struggle to make sense of the world around them.

In the final semesters of their respective programs, however, it dawns upon many students that they actually know very little about how to systematically approach a thesis. The summer school tackles this predicament based on a hands-on approach. Each participant is supposed to bring with him/her a research question which we will use as examples throughout the workshop. After the summer school all participants will be familiar with the most common approaches to research design and methodology and will be able to frame their own research question in different variations. Additionally, all participants will benefit from meeting other students of area studies interested in a political science approach to their respective research.

The summer school will take place at Freie Universität Berlin. Situated in the quiet and peaceful Dahlem in the south-west of Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin is easily reachable via public transport from all other areas of Berlin. Participants are of course free to enjoy the cultural scene of Berlin during their free-time or can explore the various Chinese food options throughout the city.

Fees, Food and Accommodation:
The participation fee of 80 € will cover the reception, social events, snacks and drinks during the week and a lump sum for administrative and printing costs. For accepted participants the fee is non-refundable. Participants need to cover their own transport, food and accommodation. We offer a 10 € discount to all Mapping China Members!

Applicants should use the application form at the end of this page. Slots are limited to 15 and free slots are filled on a rolling basis. The application process either ends once the places are filled or otherwise on 13 August. The summer school will only take place if the number of participants is higher than five.

(tentative) Schedule:
Mon, 10 September
Morning: Introduction, Philosophy of Science
Afternoon: Self-Study
Evening: Key-Note Address and Reception

Tue, 11 September
Morning: Research Questions
Afternoon: Social Event

Wed 12 September
Morning: The Research Process
Afternoon: Self-Study

Thu, 13 September
Morning: Research Designs I (Experiment, Quantitative Designs)
Afternoon: Self-Study
Evening: Social Event

Fri, 14 September
Morning: Research Designs II (Qualitative Designs, Comparative Case Studies, Plagiarism)
Afternoon: Free

Any questions should be directed to!

We are looking forward to receiving your applications!


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Joining Hands

Get Together

Ab Oktober organisieren wir in der Regel einmal im Monat ein zwangloses Get Together in Berlin und Heidelberg für alle China-Studierenden, die die es werden wollen und die, die sich einfach dafür interessieren bei einem gemütlichen Bier oder Kaffee über aktuelle politischen Entwicklungen rund um China zu sprechen. Eingeladen ist jeder!

Das Get Together in Berlin wird von Julia organisiert und das Get Together in Heidelberg von Tatjana. Bei spezifischen Fragen können die beiden direkt kontaktiert werden. Außerdem könnt ihr euch auf unsere Mailing-Liste setzen lassen um keine Einladung zu verpassen oder uns auf Facebook folgen, wo die Get Together ebenfalls frühzeitig bekannt gemacht werden.

Wir freuen uns auf euch! 🙂