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Statistics 1 - Description and Inference


Admission requirements

This is a required course as part of the bachelor IRO and as such has no specific entry requirements.

Course description

This course is intended to introduce students without prior training to the use of quantitative methods in the social sciences. The course introduces students to basic statistics: how to summarise large amounts of information efficiently and how to draw basic inferences. As political scientists, we are interested in answering questions such as “What is the association between political systems and the incidence of war?”. To answer such questions we require 1) data and 2) methods and techniques to process such data. In this course, you will learn how to describe data, apply and interpret the results from simple statistical tests as well as familiarise yourself with the software IBM SPSS Statistics (SPSS). A more detailed weakly programme will be announced via Brightspace.

Course objectives

  • This course provides students with an introduction to quantitative methodology as used in political science research.

  • This course helps students gain basic skills in using software for quantitative analysis.

  • Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to employ and interpret, as well as critically evaluate others’ use and interpretation of, a number of simple statistical analyses.

Mode of instruction

This course is taught through a combination of online weblectures, one weekly Q&A lecture and one weekly seminar. The weblectures introduce students to statistical analysis and follow the course textbook. In seminars, students will familiarise themselves with SPSS and apply the concepts and methods taught in the lecture. Students are required to prepare assignments and submit these before class via Brightspace.

Course materials

This course uses Brightspace. Other required course materials are the course textbook and the SPSS software.

  • Field, Andy (2018) Discovering Statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics (5th edition). London: Sage. ISBN: 9781526445780
    Please note: Students who have purchased Field, Andy (2013) Discovering Statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics (4th edition). London: Sage. ISBN: 1446249182 may use this version but need to check for changes. The exam will be based on the 5th edition.

  • IBM SPSS Statistics (newest version available). Students can access SPSS via the university computers. Students can purchase a version for their own computers via SURFspot (with a student discount). The newest version is version 27 but you can also use versions 23, 24, 25 or 26.

  • Please note: To prevent issues when installing SPSS on Mac: While there are generally few issues with installing and running SPSS on Windows, Mac users are advised to check the compatibility of their macOS version with SPSS before purchasing an SPSS version to prevent any issues (and to check whether a hotfix is available). In case of problems concerning installing the software, please get in contact with SURFspot.
    This course uses brightspace. Students are required to check the course page regularly for announcements, course materials and to submit assignments.


  • 10% participation + assignments

  • 20% SPSS test

  • 70% final written exam (a mix of closed and open questions):

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Brightspace no later than the publication of the grades.


See tab 'Practical Information'.

Timetable - courses and exams