Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide advanced methodological tools for empirical research in the social and political sciences. Students learn to independently design studies to answer specific research questions and acquire skills in data collection via questionnaire, analysis of the data collected and communication of research results.

Course contents

The course provides a range of techniques and tools for social and political research through detailed study of trust, social capital and political culture. The course consists of two modules.

The first, held by prof. Paola Bordandini, focuses on the importance of the link between concepts, terms and referents in empirical research, on research design, choice of data collection method and construction of data matrices.

The second, held by prof. Laura Sartori, introduces data analysis, concentrating on univariate and bivariate analysis.

“Non-attending” students tackle these topics through critical analysis of the course literature, whereas attending students do group empirical research.

“Attending” students

To be considered "attending", students must regularly attend the lectures of both teachers throughout the course (from September to December). To organise the empirical work, attending students are divided into working groups by 5th October.

Both modules envisage specific group work and a seminar.

The two modules

The empirical work of the first module focuses on research design and formulation of questions for quantitative research questionnaires. Students as groups learn to draw up and administer a questionnaire, the latter by online survey, and to build and organise the data matrix for data analysis.

The empirical work of the second module introduces data analysis using statistical software (Pspp or Stata). Students practise univariate and bivariate analysis of different matrices of data provided by the teacher.


Besides the regular lectures of the two modules, there are also two seminars held by the course tutor. That of the first module concerns details of some of the main software used for web surveys: Microsoft forms, Qualtrics and Feedback server. The seminar of the second module introduces another widely used data analysis package.

To run the seminars, the working groups are divided in two: one half does the seminar of the first and the other that of the second module (questionnaire design/web survey and data analysis, respectively). The subgroups then share the contents of their seminar with the other subgroup.


References for the first module

- Bordandini, P. (2006), Cultura politica e piccola impresa nell'Italia plurale. Roma-Catania, Bonanno editore [only chapters 1, 2, 3, 7, presentazione, premessa e conclusioni].

- Cartocci, R. e V. Vanelli (2006), Atlante del capitale sociale, in «SOCIOLOGIA DEL LAVORO», 102, pp. 169 – 191.

- Marradi, A. (1980),Concetti e metodo per la ricerca sociale, La Giuntina, Firenze [sino a pagina 73, esclusi i paragrafi 1.1, 1.3 e 2.5]

- Pavsic R. e Pitrone M.C (2003), Come conoscere opinion e atteggiamenti. Roma-Catania Bonanno editore

- Materiale didattico (dispense e slides)

Other recommended reading for first module:

- Marradi, A. (2019), Tutti redigono questionari. Ma è davvero così facile?. Milano: Franco Angeli.

References for the second module

For "attending" students

1) Corbetta, P. (2003), La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche. IV. L'analisi dei dati. Bologna, Il Mulino. NO cap. 1. SI capp. 2 e 3

For "non-attending" students

1) Corbetta, P. (2003), La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche. I. I paradigmi di riferimento. Bologna, Il Mulino.

2) Corbetta, P. (2003), La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche. IV. L'analisi dei dati. Bologna, Il Mulino. NO cap. 1. SI capp. 2 e 3

The teachers reserve the right to change the texts before lectures begin.

Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars and workshops

Assessment methods

Assessment for "attending" students

First module

The working groups present a research project and draw up a questionnaire, which are assessed.

Second module

The working groups write a research report in which they discuss the data collected in the first module on the basis of the literature used to construct the questionnaire. The report is assessed.

The students work in the groups formed for the first module. The final grade is the average of the grades obtained in the two modules.

Assessment for "non-attending" students

Assessment consists in an individual oral examination on the texts, and is held during one of the official exam sessions defined by the teaching calendar.

Teaching tools

Slides, exercises and discussions

Office hours

See the website of Paola Bordandini

See the website of Laura Sartori