Research methods in social and political science

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
SPS/04 SPS/07 SPS/09
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to introduce students to the main quantitative and qualitative research approaches in sociology and political science. Good methods produce good research, regardless of whether they are qualitative or quantitative. Students will be able to do original empirical research on the various themes of the Master programme (political institutions, public policy, educational inequalities, cultural change, etc.) in a comparative and global perspective. More specifically, this course will prepare students to:
1)understand research articles and outputs that belong to different research traditions in sociology and political science.
2)foster the analysis of empirical data in other courses included in the program;
3) select the appropriate research method for their own thesis;
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have gained the following skills: an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social sciences; an understanding of the theoretical and epistemological underpinnings of quantitative and qualitative research; a general knowledge of a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods and an understanding of their relationship to particular types of research design.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
Course syllabus
Module 1 - Research design
· Scientific research in social science
· Theory and hypothesis testing
· Causality and causal mechanisms
· Quantitative and qualitative design and techniques

Module 2 - Quantitative data analysis
· The use of statistics in social sciences: Descriptive and inferential analyses
· Types of variables and their properties
· Principles of sampling methods
· Univariate descriptive statistics: frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, position and variability
· Bivariate descriptive analysis: comparisons of means and proportions, contingency table
· Measures of bivariate associations
· Probability distributions, sampling distributions and the normal distribution
· Confidence intervals for a mean and a proportion
· Significance tests for bivariate analysis: t-tests for independent means and proportions, chi-square test
· Simple linear regression
· Introduction to multivariate analysis

Module 3 - Qualitative methods
· Case Study Research
· Comparative Historical Analysis
· Process Tracing
· Textual and Discourse Analysis
· Ethnography
· Interviewing
Prerequisites for admission
There are no requirements.
Teaching methods
Class teaching
Class exercises
Teaching Resources
- Module 1

King, G., Keohane, R. S., Verba, S. (2021), Designing Social Inquiry. Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Second Edition, Princeton UP (chapters 1, 2, 3)
Angrist, J. D., Krueger, A. B. (2001), Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 15, 4, pp. 69-85.
Freedman, D. A. (1991), Statistical Models and Shoe Leather, Sociological Methodology, 21, pp. 291-313.

- Module 2

Agresti, A. and Finlay, B. (2019) Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences, fifth edition, Pearson Global Edition (chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (except for 5.5), 6 (except for 6.5 and 6.6), 7 (only 7.1-7.3), 8 (except for 8.5-8.6), 9, 10.2-10.3).

- Module 3
Gerring, John: "Definitions". In: John Gerring, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, Second Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017).
Thelen, Kathleen and James Mahoney: "Comparative-historical analysis in contemporary political science". In: James Mahoney and Kathleen Thelen (eds), Advances in Comparative Historical Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015).
Bennett, Andrew and Jeffrey T. Checkel: "Process Tracing: From philosophical roots to best practices". In: Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel (eds), Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015).
Milliken, Jennifer, "The Study of Discourse in International Relations: A Critique of Research and Methods," European Journal of International Relations 5/2 (1999): 225-254.
Kapiszewski, Diana, Lauren MacLean and Benjamin Read: "Site-intensive methods: ethnography and participant observation". In: Kapiszewski, Diana, Lauren MacLean and Benjamin Read, Field Research in Political Science: Practices and Principles (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015).
Kapiszewski, Diana, Lauren MacLean and Benjamin Read: "Interviews, oral histories, and focus groups". In: Kapiszewski, Diana, Lauren MacLean and Benjamin Read, Field Research in Political Science: Practices and Principles (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015).
Assessment methods and Criteria
Written exam
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 3
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 60 hours
Monday 10.30-12.30 am. Not on october the 11th. It is possible also to get an appointment by email
Dept. of Social and Political Science, Room 5 first floor (above the cafeteria)