GV319      Half Unit
Experimental Politics

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Florian Foos


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course is capped at one group. The deadline for enrolments is 12:00 noon on Friday 4 October 2019.


Familiarity with basic algebra required and comfort with basic statistics as covered by Research Design in Political Science (GV249) or an equivalent course in research design or introductory statistics (such as ST102, ST107, ST108, GY140, SA201) is recommended.

Course content

This course will introduce students to the design, conduct and analysis of randomized field experiments (RCTs) in politics to evaluate theories, programmes and policies. The course will cover the science and methods of experimentation (weeks 1-3), debate practical challenges of field experimentation, and the ethics of field experiments (weeks 4-5), and examine the findings of experimental research in several distinct political domains (weeks 7-11). Representative topics include:

1. Voter mobilisation

2. Political persuasion

3. Social networks

4. Gender and politics

5. Conflict and international development


15 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the LT for private study and formative/summative assessment preparation. There will be no lecture during Week 6 and no class during Weeks 1 and 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to solve 1 formative problem set, and prepare one 5-minute presentation in pairs, both in LT.

Indicative reading

Required textbook:

Gerber, Alan and Donald P. Green. 2012. Field Experiments: Design, Analysis, and Interpretation, New York: W.W. Norton, 2012.

Suggested texts:

Glennerster, Rachel and Kudzai Takavarasha. 2013. Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

John, Peter. 2017. Field Experiments in Political Science and Public Policy: Practical Lessons in Design and Delivery, London: Routledge.

Karlan, Dean and Jacob Appel. Failing in the Field, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.

Journal articles and other reading list texts, as assigned.

Students will have free choice on final essay topics, so they should expect to find and read additional books and articles on the topic in consultation with the instructor and the library.


Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Take home exam (50%) in the LT.

The assessment for this module consists of one problem set (50%) and one research design essay (50%). The problem set combines short theoretical problems, and applied problems requiring basic data manipulation/analysis using R. In the research design essay (3000 words) you are asked to write an experimental design outlining how you would address a causal research question of your choice in Political Science using a randomized field experiment. The research design should include a short literature review, hypotheses, research design, and pre-analysis plan. There is also a practice problem set, for which cohort feedback is provided. The two problem sets (formative and summative) will ensure that students have the skills necessary to propose a credible experimental design. One-on-one meetings after Reading Week will provide a checkpoint to obtain early feedback.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness