Concentrators are required to take a Politics course in systematic analysis, normally no later than the first semester of the junior year. The Department strongly recommends completing this requirement before the end of the sophomore year. The analytical course must be taken for a grade - not P/D/F. (Note that this rule will be relaxed for the Spring 2020 semester, due to the COVID-19 situation. Analytical courses may be taken P/D/F—a passing grade is required.)
The analytical requirement can be met by taking a Politics course in quantitative methods (POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211 or POL 346), formal theory (POL 250 or POL 347/ECO 347), or experimental methods (POL 341).
Quantitative Methods (POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211 or POL 346)
A recent New York Times headline read "For Today's Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics." Why? The world needs more people to help identify patterns and insights amid an explosion of digital data. Statistics are also useful for answering questions in political science. Has the American Congress grown more polarized? Why are some countries rich and others poor? What leads people to engage in terrorist acts? POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211 and POL 346 serve as a two course sequence designed to help students address questions such as these in a systematic, data-driven manner. The first semester introduces students to descriptive statistics, probability theory, and the basic theory of inference and estimation. We place a particular focus on the distinction between correlative and causal inference. The second semester follows directly from the first, with a focus on the sorts of models commonly encountered in research and industry settings: linear models, binary and count models, and panel data. The second semester will focus, in particular, on how to present results effectively as part of a junior paper or senior thesis. Both semesters utilize the popular R programming language. POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211 and 346 also count towards the undergraduate certificate in Statistics and Machine Learning.
- POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211: Introduction to Quantitative Social Science. This course is the first in the Department’s two-course sequence in undergraduate-level political methodology. It provides an introduction to statistical analyses in the social sciences. No prior knowledge aside from high school algebra is assumed. Topics include causal inference, estimation, and statistical programming. Through analyzing real world data sets, the course equips students with the skills necessary to produce a basic statistical analysis at the level of a Junior Paper or Senior Thesis. The sequence continues with POL 346. The course is typically offered in the fall semester.
- POL 346: Applied Quantitative Analysis. This course focuses on developing an intuition for statistics and applying it through data analysis, regression models and a final project. Students wrestle with what makes a good research question, play with data to see how statistical methods can help us make sense of real world concerns, and work at communicating quantitative findings clearly to broad audiences. Particular attention will be paid to applying these techniques in Junior Papers and Senior Theses. Coursework involves using the R statistical platform. Upon completion of POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211 and POL 346, students are eligible to take the Department’s graduate sequence in quantitative methods. POL 346 is typically offered in the spring semester.
Formal Theory (POL 250 or POL 347/ECO 347)
Much of politics revolves around strategic interactions between political actors. This is true in all fields of political science. In deciding whether to present a policy proposal to Congress, the President must anticipate the voting behavior of members of Congress. In deciding whether to engage in a public protest, individuals take into consideration the reaction of the regime, as well as that of fellow protesters. In deciding to go to war, countries anticipate the decisions of the enemy and the international community. Formal Methods and Game Theory are powerful analytical tools that help us understand these complex strategic interactions, by focusing on how institutions and social norms shape the incentives, trade-offs and beliefs of political actors. The Politics Department offers a number of courses in game theory and formal methods. POL 347 provides an introduction to game theory in political science, covering static and dynamic games of complete and incomplete information, and applications to bargaining, vote buying, strategic information transmission, conflict, and cooperation in repeated games.
- POL 250: Introduction to Game Theory. This course seeks to develop intuition about how individuals interact in political settings. The course presents an introduction to non-cooperative game theory and then applies these tools to develop an understanding of key phenomena in political economy. The focus ranges from informal decision-making in groups to how leaders are elected, to how elites make and implement policy, to how countries interact and decide whether to resolve their differences violently.
- POL 347/ECO 347: Mathematical Models in Political Science. This course offers an advanced introduction to the use of game theory to study strategy and public choice in politics. The course covers the fundamentals of static and dynamic games of complete and incomplete information, as well as an introduction to the theory of repeated games. Each topic is developed with an application in political science, including strategic voting in elections and committees, bargaining, lobbying, strategic information transmission, and political agency. Prerequisites: MAT 103.
Experimental Methods (POL 341)
The use of experiments to study and influence politics is now widespread and growing, in part because experiments can give conclusive results about cause-and-effect often not possible with surveys or other observational data. No longer confined to the lab, social scientists and political operatives have turned to new technologies to conduct experiments on thousands of voters to influence behavior in real elections. Large-scale political experiments have been conducted on Facebook, by mail and telephone, but is it ethical to influence politics in the pursuit of new knowledge? What have experiments taught us about voting, race, and representation in America? This applied methods class will address these and other aspects of using experiments in politics. This course is open to students in any major; it is ideal for social science students interested in developing their independent research ideas on politics using an experimental approach. Examples and substantive material will be drawn primarily from research on U.S. voter turnout, race and identity in politics, and representation in the U.S. Prerequisites: No prior knowledge of statistics or experimentation is required, but freshmen should email the professor for advice about taking the class.
A complete list of courses that fulfill the analytical requirement can be found below.
Complete List of Courses
- POL 250 [As of Spring 2020, this course can now satisfy the analytical requirement. Students in the Class of 2022 who have already taken POL 250 may opt to count it as their analytical course.]
- POL 341
- POL 345/SOC 305/WWS 211
- POL 346
- POL 347/ECO 347
- POL 451
- ANT 300
- ANT 301
- ECO 202
- ECO 302
- ECO 312
- ORF 245
- PHI 201
- SOC 404
- WWS 200
- WWS 332
NOTE: POL 245 cannot be used to fulfill the analytical requirement.
The course used to fulfill the analytical requirement cannot be used to satisfy primary, secondary or third field requirements, but it does count as a departmental.
Even if the course fulfilling this requirement is taken outside the Department, students may still take two cognates.