GV4G1      Half Unit
Applied Quantitative Methods for Political Science

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Valentino Larcinese


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Political Science and MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 2 groups. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 29 September 2020. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.

All MSc students from the Department of Government are welcome to apply for this course.


A good knowledge of statistics and of the generalized linear model at the level of MY452.

Course content

This course provides an introduction to current empirical research in political science with a focus on methods for causal inference. The 2 hours weekly meetings consist of a mix of lectures and tutorials.The lectures will present the techniques and illustrate their applications by making extensive use of the most up-to-date empirical literature. The tutorials will give feedback on formative work and will provide an opportunity to learn how to apply the methods with the statistical software Stata. After reviewing the rationale for simple OLS estimation, particularly focussing on the conditions for a causal interpretation of the coefficients, the course will cover instrumental variables, panel data, differences-in-differences, regression discontinuity and several applications to political science. Students will be stimulated to think in experimental terms and the main theme will be how to replicate or get close to the experimental ideal of natural sciences by using non-experimental observational data.


This course is delivered through a minimum of 20 hours of lectures and tutorials in the Lent Term. Some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and tutorials. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

There will be two pieces of formative work to be submitted to the lecturer.

Indicative reading

Most readings will be journal articles. The main references for the methods will be:

Thad Dunning: Natural experiments in the social sciences, Cambridge University Press 2012

Angrist & Pischke: Mostly Harmless Econometrics, Princeton University Press 2009.

Stock & Watson: Introduction to Econometrics, Pearson 2007 (Second edition)


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Group Project (40%) of max 5000 words to be submitted by first week of ST.

Presentation on the project (10%) to be delivered by each group in week 11 of LT.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 23.1
Merit 36.5
Pass 32.7
Fail 7.7

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2019/20: 13

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information