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KAFP 3530 - Social Policy in Practice: Data and Methods

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 40

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with several methodologies used in social policy research. In particular, at the end of the course students will be able to competently read and analyze academic research based on different research methods and epistemological underpinnings. The Course is divided in three parts. The first introduces the process and the logics applied to social policy research. The second describes and analyse what researchers in empirical research do in order to investigate different kinds of research question. They describe, interpret and illustrate the meaning of specific policies and their outcomes, they try to establish relation of causation between different variables, they mix several methods to provide increasingly accurate pictures of reality. The third part allows students to apply the concepts discussed in the previous eight lectures.


  • CHEVRIN, Coline (Teaching Assistant)
  • FERRAGINA, Emanuele (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po)

Pedagogical format

The course is divided in three parts that will follow different logics. The first four sessions are frontal lectures. The second part of the course will present four different approaches to social policy research. The first part of each lecture will be a theoretical introduction, while the second will discuss in detail specific examples (applying a common evaluation/assessment grid) in order to critically engage with the methodological characteristics of each article. The third part of the course will be based on student presentations.

Course validation

The assessment includes three components: (1) Class participation (10%). (2) Group presentation (30%). The students divided in 9 groups will prepare a 20 minutes presentation (followed by 15 minutes discussion) assessing one article provided by the instructor. The modality to evaluate and present the assessment of each article will be illustrated during the first two modules of the course. The presentations will take place in lectures 9, 10 and 11. (3) Final Exam (60%). A final four-hour exam will be based on the assessment of one article provided by the lecturer (the assessment will follow the same format used for the presentations). The students will have the possibility to choose between three different articles.


Students are expected to read an average of 2 articles/chapters for each lecture and some additional material to prepare their specific group presentation.

Required reading

  • Bryman, A. Social Research Methods, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012 (Fourth Edition). There is also a more recent edition published in 2015.
  • Gerring, J. Mere Description, British Journal of Political Science, 42: 721-746.
  • Mahoney, J. and Thelen, K. (eds.) Advances in Comparative Historical Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015 (introductive chapter)
  • Tacq, J. Causality in Qualitative and Quantitative Research, Quality and Quantity 45: 263-291, 2011.
  • Johnson, R.B. and Onwuegbuzie Mixed Methods Research: A Research Paradigm Whose Time Has Come, Educational Researcher, 33: 14-26, 2004