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Research Methods for Political Science

Module Code: PO3600

Module Name: Research Methods for Political Science

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 2 lectures per week; 1 weekly tutorial
  • Module Personnel: Lecturers - Dr. Thomas Chadefaux (MT) and Dr. Constantine Boussalis (HT)

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Critically analyse existing political science and social science research on the basis of the research methods employed.
  • Specify appropriate research questions in political science and construct effective research design strategies to answer these questions.
  • Analyse quantitative data to uncover relationships between theoretically relevant variables.
  • Effectively use statistical methods to conduct political science research.
  • Effectively employ SPSS, a statistical software package, to conduct political science research.

Module Learning Aims

In this module, students study how to conduct their own research.  This is the preparation for the dissertation in PO4600 Research Seminar in Political Science and for original research work generally.


Module Content

This module explores a variety of both qualitative and quantitative social science research to develop the skills for explaining causal mechanism in political phenomena. Especially, the class focuses on the logic of scientific inference, research design and measurement. This module also explores the uses and abuses of statistical reasoning in social and political studies. Students learn the basic rules of data analysis and the logic of statistical inference. The class covers various topics such as survey methodology, content analysis, (quasi) experiments, and policy analysis by doing such work themselves.

Students are discouraged from taking Research Methods in Political Science in the Hilary Term only, as the course material in the second term builds on the issues discussed during the first term. Students who wish to register nonetheless are requested to contact the lecturer to discuss to what extent their prior training in methods and basic statistics is sufficient.

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Recommended Reading List

  • Manheim, J.B., R.C. Rich, L. Wilmat, C.L. Brians and J. Babb (2012) Empirical Political Analysis: An Introduction to Research Methods. Harlow: Pearson Education. ISBN: 1408204622
  • Field, A. (2013) Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics. 4th edition (3rd edition can also be used). London: Sage. ISBN: 9781446249185

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Assessment Details

Assignments and one essay per term: 20% per term (40% total)
End of year Exam (60%)
1 x 3-hour examination

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Last updated 5 January 2017 polsci@tcd.ie.