Political Science 30



Political Inquiry



Why do political scientists call themselves scientists? 


What can we learn about the world of politics using the tools of scientific inquiry?  This course will introduce you to the basic principles of research design, and show you how they are applied to real data by real researchers in the real world to answer really important questions. 


We will explore a wide range of methods, including experiments, statistical analysis of large data sets, and qualitative case studies.  The readings combine textbook explanations of the methods with examples of how they are put into practice.  Through a set of homework assignments, you will be asked to conduct your own analysis of a question of your choosing, using a dataset that we will provide.  In order to work with the data, you will learn how to operate a statistics program (SPSS) which is used by scholars and practitioners in both the social and natural sciences.  The two primary goals of the course are:


1.     To provide you with analytic tools that will help you understand how political scientists do research.


2.    To improve your ability to pose and answer research questions on your own.