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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2019-2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA2361: Analytical Politics

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None. Location Durham

Prerequisites

  • • Any level 1 SGIA module plus one of the following: ECON 1021, GEOG 1232, SGIA 1201, SOCI 1321.

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None

Aims

  • To introduce students to the fundamentals of theoretical models
  • To introduce students to key theoretical mechanism of politics
  • To teach students how to apply theoretical models to a wide range of political issues and processes, training their problem-solving skills
  • To introduce students to theory testing research designs
  • To teach students on how to link theory and evidence

Content

  • The first block of lectures and seminars, will introduce to the fundamentals of theoretical models of politics and consider a variety of theoretical mechanisms, such as coordination and cooperation, commitment, signaling, bargaining, delegation, and behavioral mechanisms.
  • In developing our understanding of modeling approaches to politics, we will read both historically important texts and current research using theoretical models, and apply their insights and mechanisms to past and current political events.
  • The second block of lectures and seminars, takes the theoretical insights and predictions of those models and mechanisms and examines how they can be empirically assessed.
  • We will learn to what extent different empirical designs can be used to answer substantive questions about political phenomena.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module, students will:
  • understand the use and limitations of theoretical models in explanatory political theory
  • know some key mechanisms through which the interaction of actors, their preferences, and the institutional context affect political processes and outcomes
  • understand the challenges of assessing theoretical predictions empirically
  • have an awareness of how and under what conditions certain research designs are able to overcome empirical challenges
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Having completed this module, students will:
  • be able to apply theoretical models and mechanisms to political events
  • be able to use diverse sources effectively, in order to understand and analyze a political phenomenon
  • be able to analyse and evaluate competing explanations of a political phenomenon
  • be able to produce and evaluate reasoned social scientific arguments on the basis of evidence
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will have demonstrated:
  • learning and study skills, including the identification and retrieval of relevant resources
  • written communication skills
  • an ability to frame political processes and phenomena
  • an ability to construct and evaluate reasoned arguments
  • an ability to evaluate and interpret empirical evidence
  • an ability to construct reasoned arguments
  • an ability to plan and manage time effectively

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The lectures will:
  • in block 1 introduce students, together with assigned readings, to the fundamentals of theoretical models and a variety of theoretical mechanisms, such as such as coordination and cooperation, commitment, signaling, bargaining, delegation, and behavioral mechanisms.
  • in block 2 introduce students, together with assigned readings, to key challenges of empirically evaluating theoretical predictions (e.g., accounting for alternative explanations, the fundamental problem of causal inference) and, starting from an introduction to multivariate regression, students are then introduced to different empirical research designs, such as field and lab experiments, natural experiments, difference-in-difference design, and fixed-effects models.
  • The tutorials will:
  • • in block 1 discuss current research using theoretical models of politics and apply the research’s insights to current and past political events
  • • in block 2 expose students to empirical research employing various research designs that are critically discussed and evaluated. Some of these sessions may be held in computer labs to enable the practice of using analysis software
  • • enable the development of verbal communication skills through small group and class discussions
  • The module has two formative assessments:
  • • four problem sets, which students solve outside class. The aim of the problem sets is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the theoretical models and mechanism discussed.
  • • two data analysis exercises and reports. These assignments allow students to demonstrate their ability to use appropriate software to perform the analyses associated with specific research designs.
  • The module has two summative assessments:
  • • the first summative assessment requires students to apply the models and mechanisms to a current political phenomena or process. The take home essay is completed in small groups (2-4 students). In addition to the report each student is required to submit a short work report outlining their contribution. The assessment requires skills in gathering information, assessing evidence, critical reading, writing, and team work.
  • • the second summative assessment requires students to apply their knowledge of research design. The take home essay is individually completed and involves evaluating a peer-reviewed study. The assessment requires skills in assessing evidence, appropriate ways of using C&IT, and writing.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 Weekly; 8 in term 1 with reading week in week 6; 8 in term 2 with reading week in week 6 1 hour 16
Tutorials 9 Fortnightly in terms 1 and 2, starting in week 2 of term 1 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Group Essay and Individual Report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group Essay and Individual Work Report 3000 words + 200 words per group member 100% August
Component: Individual Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2000 100% August

Formative Assessment:

Four problem sets in the first term and two data exercises and reports (1,000 words each) in the second term..


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University



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