78160 - Methodology of Political and Social Research (O-Z)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course provides an introduction to the most important methodological problems students of political and social science have to tackle constantly. It is designed to get participants acquainted with opportunities and limits of data-gathering and data-analysis techniques. The objectives of the class are to prevent a mechanical and non-critical use of these techniques and to make students aware of the peculiar nature of social sciences subjects of analysis: human beings, their symbols, values, and institutions.

Course contents

The course is organised in two different sections. The first section consists of lectures (32 hours) and aims to introduce students to the acquisition of basic conceptual and theoretical tools. A second section, organised in seminar mode (14 hours), aims at applying and deepening knowledge.

For the seminar section, students will be divided into four groups. An online seminar group will be set up, while the possible activation of other online channels will depend on the evolution of the health emergency.

In the first part of the course (32 hours) the three lectures per week will focus on the following topics:

  • Introduction; Philosophy and epistemology of (empirical social) science; Social science research: different approaches;
  • Qualitative research techniques: Individual and collective interviews; Participant observation and ethnographic research;
  • Quantitative research techniques: From objects to cases; From properties to variables; Official statistical sources; Sample survey; Scaling techniques; Types of variables and their analysis.

At the end of the first section of the course there will be an intermediate test to assess the knowledge acquired.

In the second section of the course (14 hours), each seminar group will attend only one seminar per week, in order to have adequate time to prepare the exercises. The exercises can be carried out by the students in groups (maximum eight members) and will concern: the construction of a research design, the construction of an interview outline, the discussion of the interviews carried out, the construction of a questionnaire, the implementation of the online questionnaire and the analysis of the data collected.

The exercises will be evaluated during their presentation and discussion in class.

In parallel to the seminars, students will be able to attend three workshops (9 hours) on data manipulation literacy and data analysis using STATA. Attendance of the workshops will be necessary to carry out the last exercise planned during the seminars.

At the end of the second section of the course there will be an intermediate test to assess the individual contribution of each person to the group work carried out during the exercises.



Mandatory readings:

P. CORBETTA (2015), La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche, Bologna, Il Mulino

  • Volume I. I paradigmi di riferimento
  • Volume II. Le tecniche quantitative
  • Volume III. Le tecniche qualitative

A. MARRADI (2007), Metodologia delle scienze sociali, Bologna, Il Mulino (solo i capitoli 4, 7 e 9).

Further readings:

E. AMATURO (2012), Metodologia della ricerca sociale, Torino, UTET

M. CARDANO (2003), Tecniche di ricerca qualitativa, Roma, Carocci

P. CORBETTA (2015), La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche, Bologna, Il Mulino - Volume IV. L’analisi dei dati

Some empirical studies:

P. BORDANDINI e R. CARTOCCI (2020), Cooperazione e cooperatori nell' Italia del risentimento, Bologna, Il Mulino

E. CELLINI, L. BRUSCAGLIONI, B. SARACINO (2016), Dentro i quartieri di edilizia residenziale pubblica. Una ricerca etnografica per studiare la qualità dell’abitare, Milano, Guerini

G. DI FEDERICO e M. SAPIGNOLI (2014), I diritti della difesa nel processo penale e la riforma della giustizia. Le esperienze di 1.265 avvocati penalisti, Padova, Cedam

F. SANTANGELO (2017), La violenza nelle relazioni intime, Milano, Franco Angeli

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars, exercises and discussion.

Assessment methods

In the exam sessions at the end of the course and in the rest of the academic year, the oral exam will be preceded by a written exam with open questions and problems to be solved. Written and oral exams will focus on the mandatory readings.

Attending students will be able to participate in an alternative assessment procedure based on three midterm tests:

  • an individual written test at the end of the first section of the course (after the lectures) to assess the knowledge acquired, which will be evaluated with a maximum mark of 15;
  • a group evaluation of the exercises carried out during the seminar lessons, which will take place during the course and will be evaluated with a maximum mark of 10;
  • an individual written test at the end of the second part of the course, to assess the individual contribution of each student to the group work carried out during the exercises, which will be evaluated with a maximum mark of 5.

Students will be attending if they have participated in all three tests and have not accumulated more than two absences during the seminars and one absence during the workshops.

Teaching tools

Students will be provided with the slides used by the teacher during the course and support materials for exercises and discussion.

The teaching resources will be uploaded to https://virtuale.unibo.it

It is advisable to attend the workshops with a laptop on which the STATA software has been installed. The licence details will be provided during the course.

Office hours

See the website of Barbara Saracino

See the website of Ester Macrì