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Methods of Empirical Social Research

Module POL10100

This Module is offered by TUM School of Governance.

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Basic Information

POL10100 is a semester module in German language at Bachelor’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Catalogue of soft-skill courses
Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
180 h 60 h 6 CP

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


The course will cover, broadly:
* What is political science?
* Measurements, variables, probabilities and distributions
* Causality and causal inference
* Survey, field, and natural experiments
* Analyzing observational data
* Introduction to regression analysis
* Causal process tracing, case selection and other key issues in case study research
* Where data come from - survey research
* Uses and design of survey questionnaires
* Sampling for surveys and field research
* Non-positivist epistemology
Examples are drawn from across the empirical subfields of political science (domestic, comparative, and international relations)

Learning Outcome

The course seeks to introduce students to the major analytical methods for the empirical study of politics, including an intuitive understanding of statistics and an ability to implement basic statistical operations in statistical software, enable them to undertake a methodological assessment of existing research, and provide students with a set of tools for their own research.


There are no prerequisites for this course; recommended is an interest in a wide variety of political topics, unbashfully approach of active learning, interest in empirical methods.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

The lecture serves two purposes. First, direct transfer of knowledge about theories and methods. Secondly, students are encouraged to participate in open discussions on the learning content. The sections (Übungen) put students in an active role: Methods will be applied to research questions and datasets related to politics. The written exercises moreover allow students to demonstrate the deeper understanding that they have attained of the specific methods covered in lecture and section. They will be asked to show, for instance, that they understand both the potential for, and the limitations of, experiments and case studies for causal analysis of political phenomena, that they are able to solve tasks using statistical software and know how to evaluate statistical results. They also will show that they understand key aspects of survey research and how to develop a survey instrument suitable for research on important questions in politics.


Slides, handouts, exercise sheets, occasional whiteboard tasks


Readings will include: Pollock, Philip H. The Essentials of Political Analysis. 4th edition. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2012) und Bartels, Larry M. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. Detailed reading list to be distributed at the first meeting of the class.

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

Students in this course (module) are expected to study the material presented and discussed in lecture, sections ("Übung") and the assigned reading (as per the syllabus), and they are urged to participate in active learning in lecture and section.
Prüfungsleistung: The grade for the course will be based on written exercises ("Übungsleistungen"), one for each topic-unit of the course to allow the students to show their grasp of the material covered in that unit, to be submitted according to schedule published in the syllabus, and a final take-home assignment ("wissenschaftliche Ausarbeitung") cumulatively covering all of the course material. The equally-weighted exercises jointly account for 50% of the grade; the final assignment for the other 50%.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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