Not available in 2022/23
GV319      Half Unit
Experimental Politics

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Florian Foos


This course is available on the 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.


Familiarity with basic research design and statistics as covered by Research Design in Political Science (GV249) or an equivalent course (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 the practicalities of collaborating with political actors such as parties, NGOs and governments, as well as the ethics of field experimentation (week 5). The second part of the course examines the findings of experimental research in five distinct political domains (weeks 7-11). Topics include:

1. Voter mobilisation

2. Social networks

3. Political persuasion

4. Social contact and prejudice reduction

5. Gender and politics


This course will be delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 25 hours across the Lent Term and Summer Term. Some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. There will be no lecture during Week 6 (reading week) and no class during Weeks 1 and 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to solve 1 formative problem set, 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:

Gerber, Alan S., and Donald P. Green. 2017. "Field experiments on voter mobilization: An overview of a burgeoning literature." In Handbook of Economic Field Experiments, Vol. 1, pp. 395-438.

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 their experimental research design topic, so they should expect to find and read additional books and articles on the topic in consultation with the instructor and the library.


Take-home assessment (50%) in the LT.
Research design (50%) in the ST.

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 experimental 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.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 34.1
2:1 43.9
2:2 17.1
Third 2.4
Fail 2.4

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 13

Average class size 2021/22: 6

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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