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PL20899: Quantitative research methods

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2018/9
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW 33%, ES 67%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Presentation (CW 16%)
  • Write up (CW 17%)
  • Essay (ES 67%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites:
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
The aim of this unit is threefold:
1) To provide an introduction to the principles, philosophies and practice of research design (specifically quantitative research designs such as experiments and sample surveys). More specifically, the module will introduce students to a selection of quantitative research techniques thereby enabling them to develop and supplement the core skills needed to conduct empirical political research. It will also provide an overview of key concepts used in empirical political research; hypotheses testing and an introduction to the different types of hypotheses (correlational and causal).
2) To provide students with a foundation in statistics by introducing students to basic but important concepts (the level of maths is kept to a minimum and the module is designed for those with no previous statistical knowledge). The main aims are to introduce students to the sample survey and its role in social and political research; examine the basic theory that underlies the sampling process; examine how sample data can be used to make inferences about populations from which it is drawn; introduce strategies and techniques of data analysis starting from simply describing data (including the concept of statistical significance and tests) to exploring relationships (cross-tabulation, correlation); comparing differences (t-test, ANOVA, ANCOVA) and finally the theory and application of regression.
3) To provide students with the necessary statistical software training (SPSS) to analyse secondary data. This module will provide students with the core research skills and technical competence to conduct quantitative research and analyze secondary datasets. It will also provide students with the ability to use different methodologies in the context of their own research; assist students' preparations for their dissertation in the final year and provide a skills base/competency which is becoming increasingly important in the graduate employment market.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of this unit, students will be able to:
* Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of approaches and methods employed in the study of politics.
* Develop an understanding of approaches to theory construction and research design; understand the relationships between theory and data for political research.
* Demonstrate an understanding of the stages involved in the research process from specifying a research question to analysing evidence using data analysis techniques.
* Develop an ability to examine quantitative data
* Examine how the social survey is used as a key quantitative resources for political research
* Understand the process by which variables in a dataset are derived from the survey questionnaire.
* Demonstrate the role of random sampling in survey research and provide an understanding of different sampling designs, including their strengths and weaknesses
* Demonstrate the ability to interpret and employ descriptive statistics, indicators, questionnaires and other quantitative data used in contemporary political analysis
* Demonstrate the ability to examine data - explore relationships using categorical and interval data; compare groups; compare several means/differences (ANOVA/ANCOVA)
* Develop an understanding of the regression technique commonly used in political science/research; ability to conduct and examine simple and more complex OLS models.
* Develop an ability to use the data analysis software package, SPSS
* Demonstrate the intellectual and practical skills - including understanding concepts and theories, working with numerical data, exercising critical judgement - to carry out, interpret and report a secondary data analysis.

Skills in critical analysis, conceptual thinking, precision in the use of written and spoken language, exercise of independent judgement, reasoned argument, teamwork and the planning/conduct/reporting of quantitative research are taught and assessed iin this unit. Skills in effective learning and CIT are developed in this unit.

The content of the unit will include:
* An introduction to the principles of political research - approaches to theory construction and research design; role of theory in the selection and formulation of research questions; research questions and hypotheses
* An introduction to quantitative research designs - examination of different approaches and how they have been applied in political research
* Theoretical and practical overview of the use of surveys/questionnaires in political research; experimental methods.
* An overview of key statistical concepts used in political research; descriptive, exploratory analysis; populations and samples; operationalization of different sampling designs
* Exploring relationships between categorical variables
* Exploring relationships with interval variables - correlation; partial correlation etc.
* Comparing groups - independent sample t-tests; paired sampled t-test
* Comparing several means - ANOVA and ANCOVA
* Introduction to the theory and assumptions of regression
* Interpretation and diagnostic testing of regression models
* Using SPSS statistical package to examine survey data - application of political datasets including BES, WES, EES, EVS, Understanding Society (BHPS), BSA etc.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

PL20899 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • UHPL-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AAB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Year long work placement (Year 2)

PL20899 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • UHPL-AYB13 : BA(Hons) French and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB12 : BA(Hons) German and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB16 : BA(Hons) Italian ab initio and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB15 : BA(Hons) Russian ab initio and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB17 : BA(Hons) Spanish and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AFB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AAB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AKB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Year long work placement (Year 2)