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Conversion Course: Research Design and Measurement

Vak 2014-2015


Political science is strongly (but not exclusively) empirically oriented. This can be seen in particular from the research activities of many political scientists. This conversion course is therefore meant for those who have had no (or very little) prior experience with such empirical research. After having followed this course you should have the basic knowledge to be able to succesfully finish one of the empirically oriented thesis seminars of the master Political Science Leiden.

During this course there will be a concentration on those fundamental priciples of doing empirical research, which are outlined in the book of Manheim (2012). Attention will be paid for instance to the development of an empirically researchable central question (as part of a complete problem statement), and all intermediating steps, – such as conceptualisation, operationalisation, making reliable and valid measurement instruments -, that have to be taken to arrive at a suitable research design.

A number of those principles will also be illustrated using empirical examples. The practically working through these examples will also be done in class, which is the reason that all course meeting take place in a computer room, giving you the opportunity to immediately do things yourselve.

Methods of Instruction

The course is built around the book of Manheim (2012), that consists of seven parts (I-VII). Every week one part of the book will be studied, illustrated and discussed in class using exercises from chapters of the book and study questions that can be found on the Blackboard. The special character of this course (conversion course of an extensive subject), makes it highly interactive, with only a small number of short lectures, making you do most, if not all of the work, at home. Mostly there will be class discussions, preparing you for the small two hour exam at the end of this course.


Manheim, Jarol B, Richard C Rich, Lars Willnat, Craig Leonard Brians & James Babb. 2012. Empirical Political Analysis: An Introduction to Research Methods. Londen: Longman.

At the first meeting of this course part I of Manheim will be discussed


Written two hours exam during last meeting.
Conversion Course student will be graded pass/fail.
Exchange students will be graded on a ten-point scale.


Tuesday 2 September, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A12
Tuesday 9 September until 21 October, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A46
Tuesday 28 October, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A24


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the “Prospective students website”: for information on how to

Please register in uSis before 22 August 2014 if you are taking this course as a Political Science master student.