Empirical Research in Government

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Edward Page


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 not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course is capped at one group.

Course content

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. No prior knowledge of statistics or research methods is required. The focus of the course will be the practical research project. 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 basic routines in the widely-used Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), such as those used for compiling crosstabulations.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and workshops totalling a minimum of 40 hours across the Michaelmas, Lent and Summer Terms. Some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus sessions. There will be reading weeks in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Indicative reading

Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath, Political Research. Methods and Political Skills 2nd edn (2016); Sage Research Methods database (online accessible through LSE Library); Floyd J. Fowler Survey Research Methods, 5th edn (2013); Claus Moser and Graham Kalton, Survey Methods in Social Investigation, 2nd edn (1985); Melanie Mauthner et al (eds), Ethics in Qualitative Research (2002).


Online assessment (50%, duration: 7 days) in the ST.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Research paper (25%) in the ST

Each student completes a 2500 word essay (25%) in the Lent Term and writes up a 3300 word report on the research project (25%) in the Summer Term. The mark for the research project report includes a small peer review element. There will also be a 2 hour exam (50%) in the Summer exam period.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills