4141 Methods of Empirical Social Research
Matthew Shaikh, MSc (WU), MSc, Univ.Prof. Dr. Thomas Plümper
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
02/06/23 to 02/14/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 03/02/23 12:15 PM - 03:15 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 03/09/23 12:15 PM - 03:15 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 03/16/23 12:15 PM - 03:15 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 03/23/23 12:15 PM - 03:15 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 03/29/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 04/12/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 04/19/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 04/26/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 05/03/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 05/10/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 05/17/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 05/24/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 05/31/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 06/07/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit
Wednesday 06/14/23 10:30 AM - 01:30 PM Online-Einheit


This course offers the applied part to the introductory course on empirical social research. The course is designed to assist students in deepening their knowledge and skills acquired in the lecture.

In this course, students will learn the essentials of social research and discuss a selection of both qualitative and quantitative methods frequently used in empirical social research. Several strengths and weaknesses of these quantitative and qualitative research technologies will be discussed. Inter alia, the course will answer the following questions: How can we measure (unobservable) social phenomena? What happens if measurement error occurs? Which research designs exist? Which method is applied best to which settings? When does a research design (not) allow for valid inferences? What is the relationship between theory and empirical research?

These and more questions will be discussed at the example of experimental research, survey research, or regression analysis using observational data. The focus of this course lies in developping a critical point of view regarding the choice of research design.

Learning outcomes

After successfully participating at this course, students will have a basic overview of different empirical research methods in social sciences. As a consequence, students will be able to understand empirical research articles better and suggest how to best address a research question. This course also aims to foster critical thinking such that students learn to evaluate empirical research and their validity. 

In brief, students will acquire the skills needed to

  • distinguish different empirical research methods used in social research,
  • understand the scope of quantitative research methods, and
  • evaluate the methodological approach of contemporary research articles.

Attendance requirements

In line with standard rules for absence in practice courses (VUE), attendance in at least 70% of the announced course units is required. Options to compensate for absences exceeding 30 % are not provided.

Students are required to attend the first constitutive session of the seminar.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course will take place in distance mode. The course relies on a mix of learning techniques including synchronous lectures as well as asynchronous self-reflection tasks and practical exercises.


Overall course performance will be evaluated based on two components:

- Several brief written assignments such as reflection tasks or readings comprehensions (60 %), and

- A written essay at the end of the semester (40 %).


Grading / Notenschlüssel:

0-50%: Insufficient; 50.1-62.5% Sufficient; 62.6-75% Satisfactory; 75.1-87.5% Good; 87.6-100% Excellent

In order to pass the course, students need to receive a positive evaluation (i.e. more than half of the points) on each of the two components


Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Requirements: Course language is English. As readings and slides are in English, students need at least good passive language skills to follow the course. Basic methodological knowledge is highly welcome but not required for this course.


Course enrollment is on the basis of "first-come, first-served” principle. If you have registered but cannot participate in the course, please de-register via LPIS during the registration period so that your course is available to students on the waiting list. If there is a waiting list for enrollment in the course, students at the waiting list will be notified after the end of the enrollment period, and will be allocated to available places. Students will be ranked by their study progress not by their rank on the waiting list. This procedure, however, is not to be understood as a place guarantee.


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Availability of lecturer(s)

Please direct any questions regarding the lecture part of the course to: thomas.plü

Last edited: 2023-02-09