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Research Methods

A basic understanding of research design and statistical analysis of quantitative data is an essential part of the education of any social scientist in the contemporary era.

As a great deal of the research conducted in political science employs quantitative analysis. Public opinion surveys and statistical analysis of data have also become an important tool employed in government, the media and the courts. In order to be informed citizens with the capacity for critical analysis, students need to have an understanding of both the potential and the limitations of statistical analysis and public opinion research.

Research Method courses provide students with the skills to undertake statistical analysis of quantitative data. Because the data most commonly analyzed by political scientists are public opinion data, the primary focus is on public opinion research. Although issues of survey design and research methodology are discussed extensively in these courses, the primary focus remains on secondary analysis of existing data sets.

Learning Activities

The learning objectives of these courses are as follows:

    • Introduce the principles of scientific methodology, and the potential and limitations for its use in studying politics
    • Familiarize students with generally-accepted empirical research techniques in political science for students to attain a level of competency using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences on a personal computer for data analysis
    • Give students the necessary skills and understanding to be informed readers and consumers of academic and commercial studies employing basic statistical techniques

Courses in Research Methods provide students with a range of learning activities, including   lectures, small group discussion / problem-solving, hands-on tutorials for computer skills, building and/or manipulating a data set, and independent computer work (secondary analysis of data).


To learn more about Research Methods courses, please visit the Political Science section of the University Calendar.  To find out which courses are being offered in upcoming semesters, please visit the Department of Political Science Courses page.

Poli 399 - Quantitative Research Methods
Poli 599 - Qualitative Research Methods

Student Advising

See the Department of Political Science Student Advising page for more information on student advising.