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POL8065 : Principles of Data Science for Political Research

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Brian Boyle
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Sebastian Popa
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This class will teach students how to find, collect, and organise some of the common types of data used in political research. We will cover how data can be creatively applied to studying differences across social and political groups, using practical examples.

The key aims of this module are:
- How to conduct political research using quantitative, open science, and reproducible research approaches.
- Proficiency in handling and analysing data using the R programming language.
- How to evaluate data sources’ suitability for answering political research questions.
- Where to find secondary data, and how to collect your own datasets.
- Developing a workflow for data analysis and reports that is scalable to larger research projects e.g. student dissertations.
- Gaining hands-on experience in applying these skills to datasets in political science and international relations.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will cover a range of topics, that may include:
- Open source and reproducible research practices
- Where to find secondary data sources
- How to collect your own data from the web
- How to import, clean, and transform datasets using R
- Visualising and analysing data
- Creating reports and interpreting results

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical112:0022:00Computer labs
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops71:007:00Computer labs, working through applied examples in small groups.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1171:00171:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

- Practical sessions will review the core concepts from that week’s topic; give students the opportunity discuss concepts from the assigned readings; work though examples of how to apply these practices using R.
- Workshops will: Allow students to apply the skills learned in seminars to practical applied examples; work in small groups to complete tasks; supervised practice in the application of the skills that will be used in their final report.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2A80Research report (3,000 words)
Prob solv exercises2M20Group tasks to be completed during workshops.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

- Apply the tools learned in seminars to small programming challenges that simulate common research tasks.
- Work effectively in small groups.
- Combining all class elements to produce a reproducible workflow exploring a political data set, and reporting their findings.

Reading Lists