The study of social and political phenomena is a vast endeavour and this class will serve as an introduction to methods for social science research. This 15 credit intermediate-level module is normally taken in Stage II. It provides a basic, non-technical introduction to the use of quantitative methods in the political sciences for students from a variety of educational backgrounds (including those with very limited knowledge of mathematical terminology and notation). The progression of this course will address scientific research design and methodology and consider many examples of such research In short, it seeks to enable students to read, interpret, and critically assess arguments drawing on quantitative methods in Politics and International Relations. Students with some prior exposure to quantitative methods will have the opportunity to improve their command of statistical software as well as apply their general statistical skills to data sets commonly found in policy and academic work.
The module is divided into two main components: In the first part, students will be introduced to both the logic of empirical research in the social sciences and to basic concepts and techniques of descriptive uni-, bi-, and multi-variate data analysis. The second part will focus on uni-, bi-, and multi-variate inferential statistics. ICT skills will be acquired/enhanced of students by the introduction to and use of statistical software (SPSS). The focus will be on student-centred learning and critical reflection of selected examples of quantitative work in seminars and group work.
150 hours including: Lectures (11 contact hours) and Seminars/PC Laboratory Sessions (11 contact hours); 128 study hours.
Method of assessment
100% coursework (7 weekly assignments related to both the lecture content and exercises carried out in the PC lab sessions (60%), End of term project (students are given a data set and asked to perform a series of statistical analyses, presenting findings in an essay of no more than 2500 words (40%))
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successful completion of this module students will:
- Understand the importance of quantitative research methods for the cumulative growth of knowledge in the political and social sciences;
- be able to understand the basic logic of the empirical research process,
- be familiar with key methodological and statistical concepts relevant to quantitative data analysis,
- have improved their ability to critically evaluate arguments supported by quantitative work,
- be able to select and evaluate statistical tests appropriate to explore substantive research questions in the fields of politics and international relations,
- have developed a basic ability to enter, code, manipulate, and examine data sets with SPSS for Windows, and
- formulate and test simple hypotheses using bivariate and multivariate designs.
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- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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