Courses

Syllabi & Descriptions

Political Science 843 - Techniques in Political Analysis: Maximum Likelihood Estimation

Course Description: PO 843 is an applied course in quantitative empirical analysis. We focus on cases in which the assumptions of ordinary least squares (OLS) may be violated, in particular when the data are discrete, truncated, or non-normally distributed. We will use both maximum likelihood and Bayesian techniques for estimating models applied to these data. The models covered in this course are widely used in political science, psychology, economics and sociology. A career in empirical political, social or psychological research requires at least a passing familiarity with them. The nature of these models and data are such that applied researchers often must rely on statistical software, the use of which is also addressed in this course.

Political Science 511 - American Elections and Voting Behavior

Course Description: PO 511 (formerly PO 524 & 610) concerns the study of elections and political participation. The emphasis is on voting in U.S. presidential elections and the tools political scientists use to study them, especially survey research and field experiments. Particular attention will be paid to the 2008 presidential election. Topics to be covered include partisanship, election rules and procedures, voter turnout, campaign organization and strategy, and the effects of campaigns on voters. Because much of the classic and the contemporary research on elections utilizes quantitative methods, students should have some prior exposure to quantitative social scientific analysis.

Political Science 502 - Political Analysis: A Primer

Course Description: PO 502 explores the greater research methods enterprise used to make claims about political phenomena. It addresses both qualitative and quantitative approaches, and focuses on the processes of empirical political analysis. Various topics in statistics, including data description, probabilities, significance testing, correlation, and regression analysis, are introduced and applied to questions of social, economic and political relevance. Students will gain insight into theory building, research design and empirical testing that can be applied across disciplines and in various careers.

Political Science 306 - U.S. Media and Politics

Course Description: PO 306 (formerly PO 324) explores the relationships among the mass media, politicians and the public in America. It considers each of these actors within the context of the others, in order to present a richer understanding of the interaction between media and politics. Various themes in political science and communications are engaged in this course, including: the organization and kinds of media; the process of newsgathering; the shaping of news coverage; the effect of media on public opinion, political participation and voting behavior; and recent developments in the media environment. Substantial time will be allocated to the introduction of data description and research design employed by media scholars. Thus this course will mix conceptual discussions with practical data analysis, giving special attention to models of public opinion, campaign coverage and voting behavior. In doing so, the course encourages students to question the often unsubstantiated and overly simplistic claims about the media. Instead, students are presented with the basic tools to make sophisticated arguments about the complex system in which the media, the public and politicians interact.

Political Science 300 - Presidential Primary Elections & Caucuses

Course Description: PO 300 concerns the study of U.S. presidential primary elections and caucuses and the tools political scientists use to study them, especially survey research. While we will spend some time looking at the history and development of our current system, the bulk of our at- tention will be paid to modern contests, especially the 2008 and 2012 presidential nomination campaigns. In particular, we will explore the factors and events that comprise candidates’ momentum, viability, fundraising, endorsements and success in nomination contests. Though this course focuses on the theories, concepts and events surrounding a particular kind of election, it also explores the greater research methods enterprise used to make claims about these political phenomena.

Resources

Note that the required readings and other course materials are available to registered students on Blackboard. Students may also be interested in political science articles that use basic statistics, Berinsky's list and Martinez's list, as well as two clear writing guides for political science students, Box-Steffensmeier's Basics and Stimson's Professional.

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