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Course 2019-2020 a.y.

20469 - INSTITUTIONS, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY - MODULE I

DES-ESS
Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 20 - 21

DES-ESS (6 credits - I sem. - OB  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:
GIOVANNI FATTORE

Classes: 20 (I sem.) - 21 (I sem.)
Instructors:
Class 20: GIOVANNI FATTORE, Class 21: SIMONE GHISLANDI


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

The success of a research project also depends on its design. Carefully planning research question(s), type of study, mode of data collections and statistical analysis increases the chances of producing valid empirical research. The course introduces students to the fundamentals of research design in the social sciences. It also offers students the opportunity to design their own research study.

CONTENT SUMMARY

The first part of the course covers causal inference in the social sciences by presenting the main models used in contemporary research. The second part discusses validity of empirical studies and complement the first part of the course with additional methods/topics that are increasingnly popular in empirical research in the social sciences.

Part 1. Main analytical approaches for causal interference:

  • The conterfactual model.
  • Randomization and its discontents.
  • Regression Models.
  • Instrumental variables.
  • Regression Discontinuity Design.
  • Difference-in-Differences Design.

Part 2. Validity and additional topics/methods for empirical research in the social sciences:

  • Survey research and sampling.
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Content Analysis.
  • Systematic Reviews and meta-analsysis.
  • Validity of research designs.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Understand the logics of causal inference.
  • Master different models to test causality.
  • Be aware of the main quantitative research methods used in the social sciences.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Understand strengths and weaknesses (validity) of studies.
  • Be able to assess the validity of different research designs
  • Work in groups to prepare a research proposal.
  • Prepare a research proposal.
  • Deliver a presentation of a research proposal.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Group assignments
DETAILS

Students work in groups to prepare and present a research proposal.


Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •     x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x
    ATTENDING STUDENTS
    • Written exam (70% of the final grade), consisting of a number of essay-style questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the research designs/methods illustrated during the course and to explain points of strength and weakness of different counterfactual models.
    • Group (four students) research proposal (30% of the final grades), consisting of a set of slides presenting a proposal for a research project. This work aims at testing students’ ability to design their own research project, to present in public and to work in groups.

    The final written exam can be taken at any official exam session. The grade of the team research proposal has no expiring date. 

    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS
    • Written exam (70% of the final grade), consisting of a number of essay-style questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the research designs/methods illustrated during the course and to explain points of strength and weakness of different counterfactual models.
    • Individual research proposal (30% of the final grades), consisting of a set of slides presenting a proposal for a research project. This work aims at testing students’ ability to design their own research project.

    The proposal must be sent to Giovanni Fattore 10 days before the date of the written exam.


    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    In addition to a few chapters of the textbook on causal inference, the teaching materials include a selection of chapters and scholarly articles. They are accessible for students through Bboard. Textbook is: 

    • S.L. MORGAN, C. WINSHIP, Counterfactual and Causal Inference. Methods and Principles for Social Research, Cambridge University Press, 2016, 2nd edition.
    Last change 02/05/2019 13:22