Empirical Research in Government
This information is for the 2012/13 session.
Optional course for BSc Government, BSc Government and History, BSc Politics and Philosophy and BSc Government and Economics. Not available to General Course students or as an outside option.
The course introduces a variety of techniques and issues in the empirical study of political science and applies them to a practical research project in which students participate throughout the year.
The focus of the course will be the practical research project. Details of the research project will be made available at the time students make their course choices. At the theoretical level the course will cover questions relating to the utilization of policy research, forms of research design, sampling, questionnaire construction, coding and converting non-quantitative to quantitative indicators, response rates, elite interviewing and research ethics. As the practical research project progresses classes will cover the development of practical skills such as, principles of research report writing and, where appropriate for the project, use of text processing programmes, and SPSS.
22 weekly two-hour classes. Students will be expected to participate in the empirical research project outside class time. This will include tasks such as interviewing respondents, drawing up a questionnaire and coding.
Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath, Political Research. Methods and Political Skills (2012); Alan Buckingham and Peter Saunders, The Survey Methods Workbook (2004); Tim May, Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process, 3rd edn, (2001); Claus Moser and Graham Kalton, Survey Methods in Social Investigation, 2nd edn, (1985); Melanie Mauthner et al (eds), Ethics in Qualitative Research, (2002).
The course will be assessed in three ways:
(i) One quarter (25%) of the overall mark will be assessed by an essay of up to 2,500 words (due beginning of the LT).
(ii) One quarter (25%) of the overall mark will be assessed by each student writing up a report on part of the practical research project. A system of peer review will make it possible to gain (but not lose) marks through active and effective participation in the research project (due in the ST).
(iii) One half (50%) of the overall mark will be assessed by one two-hour unseen written examination in the ST.