Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Designing and Implementing Experiments in Political Science (PLIT10169)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduce students to experimental methods and causality in political science research. Experimental methods are the gold standard for establishing causality and are increasingly a favoured and innovative method being used in political science and by policy makers. Using these methods, we can answer the endless causal questions in policy and politics, such as: do voters hold biases against minority candidates; which campaign methods are most effective for increasing voter turnout; which types of policy intervention is likely to reduce carbon emissions? In this course students will learn how experimental research can be used to establish causality, test theories, and inform policy decisions. They will develop skills in data collection, measurement, and analysis, as well as the ability to communicate experimental research findings effectively and critique research. By the end of the course, students will be able to design and implement political experiments and analyse and interpret experimental results.
Course description This course is designed to introduce students to experimental methods and causality in political science research. The course will cover the principles of experimental design, including randomization, control, and manipulation of variables, and will examine the strengths and limitations of experimental methods for establishing causality in political science research. Students will learn how to design and implement experiments to test hypotheses in political science research, and will develop skills in data collection, measurement, and analysis for experimental research. Throughout the course, students will critically evaluate experimental research in political science and assess its contribution to the field. The course will explore a range of topics and research questions that can be addressed using experimental methods. These topics may include the causal effects of policies, political behavior, institutional design, international relations, and group dynamics.

The course will cover the theory of causality and experimental methods, the practical design and analysis of experiments in political science and critical engagement with current experimental research. Students will be introduced to the theory of causality and experimental methods in the first weeks, followed by weeks on the specifics of different experimental designs.

Likely topics include:

- The logic of experimental design
- Experimental Design and Sampling
- Designing experiments to test hypotheses
- Statistical Analysis of Experimental Data
- Survey experiments
- Quasi-natural experiments
- List experiments
- Field experiments

The course will be taught through a mixture of lecturer led content and seminar discussion as well as additional time for group work. Students will be assessed via a group research project, where they will design and implement their own political experiment. Overall, the course is designed to provide students with a hands-on, practical understanding of experimental methods and causality in political science research. Students will leave the course with a strong foundation in the principles of experimental design and the skills to apply experimental methods to their own research projects in the future.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004)) AND ( Doing Social Research with Statistics (SSPS08007) OR Introduction to Political Data Analysis (PLIT08009))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack these pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least four Politics/IR courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). Only university/college level courses will be considered.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  26
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 85 %, Practical Exam 15 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Group Project Presentation (15%)
Group Project Research Design, 1000 words (20%)
Final Group Project, 3,500 words (65%)
Feedback Feedback on all assessed work shall normally be returned within three weeks of submission. Where this is not possible, students shall be given clear expectations regarding the timing and methods of feedback.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the principles of experimental design, including randomization, control and manipulation of variables.
  2. Critically evaluate experimental research in political science and assess its contribution to the field.
  3. Design and implement experiments to test hypotheses in political science research.
  4. Analyse and interpret experimental results using appropriate statistical techniques.
Reading List
Example methods readings:
- Gerber, A.S. and Green, D.P. (2012) Field Experiments: Design, Analysis, and Interpretation. London: W.W. Norton.
- Druckman, J. N., Green, D.P., Kuklinski, J.H. and Lupia, A. (2012) Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Example paper to critically analyse:
- Martin, N.S. and Blinder, S. (2020) 'Biases at the Ballot Box: How Multiple Forms of Voter Discrimination Impede the Descriptive and Substantive Representation of Ethnic Minority Groups', Political Behavior,
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Enquiry and lifelong learning

Research and enquiry:
- Analytical thinking
- Critical thinking
- Knowledge interaction and application
- Independent research
- Digital literacy
- Numeracy

Personal and intellectual autonomy:
- Ethics and social responsibility
- Independent learning and development
- Creativity and inventive thinking
- Decision making

Personal Effectiveness:
- Planning, organizing and time management
- Team working

- Interpersonal skills
- Verbal communication and presentation
- Written communications
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jessica Smith
Tel: (01316) 511777
Course secretaryMs Ieva Rascikaite
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information