PSC 261 Research Methods and Statistics for Political Science
This course surveys the various ways political scientists use the scientific method and rigorous quantitative analysis to study politics. The course begins with an overview of the theory behind social scientific inquiry, outlining the basic logic of hypothesis testing and research design. We then devote significant attention to quantitative and statistical research methods, from basic probability theory to confidence intervals, means testing, and multivariate regression. The course also introduces students to computer software packages used to perform advanced statistical analysis (primarily SPSS). The primary aims of the course are (a) to prepare students to conduct their own quantitative research of political phenomena and (b) to make students better consumers of political information by familiarizing them with the ways statistics are used and abused for political ends. This course satisfies the College’s quantitative skills distribution requirement and also the statistical methods requirement of a major in political science. This course is offered in the fall semester.