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Statistics 1 - Description and Inference


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 Blackboard.

Course objectives

  • Students can calculate and interpret a number of univariate data statistics (measures of central tendency and measures of dispersion) and confidence intervals.

  • Students can calculate and report, as well as critically evaluate others’ use and interpretation of, a number of bivariate statistical analyses.

  • Students have basic skills in using software for quantitative analysis.

Mode of instruction

This course is taught through a combination of one weekly lecture and one weekly seminar. The lectures 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. These seminars will take place in computer rooms. Students are required to prepare assignments and submit these before class via Blackboard/Turnitin.

Course materials

This course uses Blackboard. Students are required to check the course page regularly for announcements, course materials and to submit assignments.
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: 9781526419521.
    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 25. Students can access SPSS via the university computers. If you want to get a version for your laptop (with a student discount) you can do so via SURFspot. The newest version is version 26 but you can also use versions 23, 24 or 25. 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. As of this month, Catalina (macOS 10.15) is out. According to the developer's website the current version of SPSS Statistics and Catalina are compatible. There is a hotfix for earlier versions available ( https://developer.ibm.com/predictiveanalytics/2019/10/08/spss-statistics-on-catalina-macos-10-15/ ). If you encounter any problems concerning installing the software, please get in contact with SURFspot.


Assessment for this course consists of a combination of coursework (timely submission of assignments and participation in seminars, totaling 10%) and one or more written tests including a final written exam (totaling 90%). More details on assessment will be provided via Blackboard at the start of the course.
Attention: you need to enroll before the deadline via uSis to take the final written exam!
You are required to obtain at least a grade of 5.0 on the final written test to pass the course (see rules and regulations of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Political Science: https://www.organisatiegids.universiteitleiden.nl/en/regulations/social-and-behavioural-sciences/political-science/students/rules-and-regulations-board-of-examiners-political-science, section 3.11.3).
If you obtain a final “fail” course mark you can only resit the final written exam. Smaller elements such as coursework or smaller tests cannot be retaken.

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


See general information on Tab 'Year 1'

Timetable - courses and exams