Undergraduate Modules: POL3104 - Dissertation in Political Analysis

Module Code

POL 3104

Module Title

Dissertation in Political Analysis (Quantitative Methods)


Level 3


Semester 1 and 2


20 credits

Module Leader:

Professor Alistair McMillan

Module Description:

This module involves supervised research on an agreed topic in empirical political research that can be analysed by applying quantitative research methods. Students will meet their supervisor individually for three supervision meetings to discuss their research outlines and proposed research design and to receive feedback on submitted draft materials. Please note that draft materials should be submitted at least one week in advance of supervision meetings to receive feedback at the meeting. Supervision meetings will be scheduled by the supervisor in the relevant weeks.

Additionally, students are required to attend a general dissertation workshop in Semester 1 and five
quantitative research methods workshops in Semester 1 and 2. These will take place in Computer
Room 1.11 in Elmfield. Each student will present their research design / research outline to the other students and the module leader during Workshop 3.

Students are welcome to sit in on POL6255 Research (Semester 1, weeks 1-12) to further their knowledge of research design and research methods and gain further skills in applied statistical analysis with STATA for the dissertation. Students will undertake individual research and be assessed on the basis of a 10,000 word maximum dissertation. You are required to provide a word count on the title page.

Each year, the best quantitative methods dissertation is awarded the YouGov Prize.

Module Aims:

This module aims to provide an opportunity for supervised research on an agreed topic of interest in empirical political research. In developing their dissertations students are expected to design, organise and execute a research plan. This plan will be presented during Workshop 3. This module requires students to take a high degree of responsibility for the learning process and will require them to manage their own learning, reflect on it critically, and seek and use constructive feedback from tutor and peers.

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate significant knowledge of their chosen area of study.
  • Illustrate their ability to conduct independent research relevant to their chosen topic, by selecting an appropriate approach and methodology and by utilising a broad range of primary and secondary sources.
  • Demonstrate critical transferable skills such as the ability to effectively deploy a considerable body of research; the ability to apply quantitative research techniques to effectively analyse political data; assess the arguments of primary source materials against relevant secondary studies; critically evaluate different interpretations of political science; elucidate their conclusions in a clear, logically structured, analytical and independently argued piece of work.

Module Schedule:

Semester 1 Workshop 1
General Dissertation Proposal
Dissertation Proposal
Workshop 2
Workshop 3
Semester 2 Supervision Meeting 1
Workshop 4
Workshop 5
Supervision Meeting 2
Supervision Meeting 3

Teaching Methods:

  • 1 * general workshop
  • 5 * quantitative methods workshops
  • 3 * individual supervision


  • 10,000 word maximum dissertation

Resources Available:

  • Individual feedback and guidance sessions with supervisor, in addition to scheduled supervision.
  • Dedicated module intranet site.
  • Extensive library materials, including a wide variety of electronic and digitised resources.

Indicative Reading:

Agresti & Finlay (1997) Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences, 3rd Edition. Prentice Hall

Hamilton (2009) Statistics with STATA. Brooks / Cole.

Inglehart, R. (1990) Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Kellstedt & Whitten (2009) Fundamentals of Political Science Research. Cambridge.

King, Gary, Keohane, Robert and Sidney Verba (1994) Designing Social Inquiry. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Kohler & Kreuter (2008) Data Analysis Using Stata. Stata Press

Van Deth, J. W. (1983) ‘The Persistence of Materialist and Postmaterialist Value Orientations’, European Journal of Political Research, 11: 63-79

What our Students Say:

"Brilliant module! Thoroughly enjoyed learning quantitative data skills and I feel a lot more confident about conducting my own research now."

"Maria was absolutely brilliant and incredibly helpful at each stage and kept me motivated with the many deadlines. Everyone should take this module (if they know what's good for them)."