1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
Topic description

This topic provides an introduction to a variety of empirical research methods used by political scientists and aims to empower student capacity to conduct empirical research via the use of a number of social surveys of political opinion conducted in Australia over the last 40 years. The topic combines both data analysis of surveys with lectures dealing with the historical evolution of political science and methodological questions such as; research design, comparative methods, surveys, polls and focus groups, descriptive statistics, discourse analysis and what policy makers want from research. Students will gain core skills required to conduct successful social research and to evaluate social surveys using basic statistical analysis. In this regard the topic adopts a hands-on approach, focusing on developing and practising a number of research skills. On completion of the topic, students will understand basic issues in the design of social research, including sample selection and methods of data collection, analysis and interpretation.

Educational aims

This topic aims to provide students with an introduction to a range of ways in which political science research data can be collected, analysed and evaluated. Students will be provided with the cores skills required to:

  • Analyse surveys dealing with social and political attitudes
  • Design appropriate hypotheses to test social survey respondents' views on key contemporary public policy issues
  • Utilise appropriate means for testing hypothesis using basic statistics and cross-tabulations
  • Appreciate different methods for conducting political research
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Develop familiarity with a range of social and political research methods
  2. Understand how various methods are used in the production and reporting of social science research
  3. Understand and interpret social science research findings

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

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Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.