PLSC3301 Research Methods for Political Science

Course Description

Political Science 3301 (PLSC 3301): Research Methods for Political Science is a required course for political science majors. It is the first of a two course methods sequence for those receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. It does not have any prerequisites, but intellectual curiousity will be greatly rewarded in the course. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s undergraduate catalog describes the course as,

“An introduction to the research process. Focus on formulating hypotheses, the process of data acquisition, basic methodology, literature reviews, and research proposals.”

More than that, this course focuses on the universalities of mainstream positivist political science research. For most students with a non-science background this course is challenging not because of the math concepts, but because scientific inference is largely not taught well at any level of secondary education.

Course Credits: 3

PrerequisitesThere are no prerequisites for this course. However, this course is challenging for most political science majors because it introduces concepts that may be foreign. For example, this course covers some basic statistical concepts that require basic math skills. So, I want all students to keep an open mind regarding the mathematical concepts introduced in this course.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and explain empiricism.
  2. Describe the empirical research process.
  3. Construct APSA style citations for a books and journal articles.
  4. Contrast normative, hypothetical, procedural and empirical research questions.
  5. Develop an empirical research question.
  6. Understand and explain the difference between dependent and independent variables.
  7. Differentiate and explain the four different types of probabilistic hypotheses.
  8. Understand, state and explain the six characteristics of good hypotheses.
  9. Understand and explain ecological inference and the ecological fallacy.
  10. Understand and explain operational definitions.
  11. Identify, differentiate and explain the five different levels of measurement.
  12. Understand and explain the purpose of a literature review.
  13. Understand and explain the basics of sampling including populations and sample statistics.
  14. Explain the concept of expected values.
  15. Understand, explain and calculate relative frequencies, proportions, and percentages.
  16. Calculate mean, median and mode.
  17. Understand and explain the three properties of measures of dispersion.
  18. Calculate range, inter-quartile range, variance and standard deviation.
  19. Understand the properties of the normal distribution.
  20. Conduct hypothesis testing.
  21. Calculate Z and T scores, confidence intervals and statistical significance