Contemporary Political Analysis

Contemporary Political Analysis continues students’ study of the principles of social science research design and empirical analysis. The course begins with a review of the role of research design, methods, and methodology in the social sciences that draws on examples from qualitative and quantitative political science. This discussion is complemented with an introduction to applied data analytics. The skills, ways of thinking, and techniques learned in this course provide the necessary foundation for the more advanced application of social science research methodology used in the public and private sectors as well as honours and graduate levels of study.

My goals for this class are different than many who teach it. I am not trying to put ten pounds of methods into a five-pound sack. Nor do I have students use the most complex statistical software without understanding why they are using it and why it useful. This is akin to giving a toddler a drill. Occasionally things will work out okay, but the danger is real that the user will do something without fully understanding what the implications are. Instead, I walk students through the design and execution phases of political science research so that they have the tools to (1) undertake the research process, (2) understand others’ research designs, and (3) more broadly, understand the menu of methods out there and how to choose between them according to their research topic and interests.

1Welcome & introduction
2Theories & causality
3Qualitative research approaches
4Concepts & measures
5Surveys & sampling
6Descriptive inference & statistics
7Correlations & visualisation
8Comparing groups
9Probability & hypothesis testing
10Regression modelling & interpreting results
11Common research design pitfalls
12Summing up
Note: Linked files are PDF versions of the reading, lecture, and tutorial notes for each week.
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