CANCELLED - Experimental Political Science

Course content

In political science, experiments have become some of the most powerful tools for examining social and political phenomena. Indeed, much of the most impressive quantitative research in contemporary political science now relies some form of lab, survey, field, or natural experiments. In this course, we will provide a broad overview of the use of experiments as a tool for empirical inquiry. We will examine the benefits, challenges, implementation, ethics, and drawbacks of experimentation. The course will also discuss the ongoing debates concerning the usefulness and applicability of experiments as the gold standard for empirical social inquiry. The course will focus on the theory of experimentation, but with a heavy emphasis on how experiments are used in practice across the many sub-fields of political science.


Bachelor student (2012 programme curriculum): 10 ECTS

Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS

Learning outcome

Knowledge: Upon completion of the course, students will understand the theoretical and practical benefits of experiments for program and policy evaluations, and for empirically testing theories in political science.


Skills: Students will be able to develop and apply experimental research designs to test theories of political behavior and for program evaluation.


Competences: Students will be able to identify the key strengths and weaknesses of the use of experiments in political science, and be able reflect on the use of experimental evidence as empirical support for theories of politics.

Teaching will be conducted through a combination of weekly lectures, student presentations, and class discussions.

Examples of material included in this course:


Druckman, James N., Donald P. Green, James H. Kuklinski and Arthur Lupia. 2011. Experimentation in Political Science. In Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science, ed. James N. Druckman, Donald P. Green, James H. Kuklinski and Arthur Lupia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press pp. 3–14.


Druckman, James N., Donald P. Green, James H. Kuklinski and Arthur Lupia. 2011. Experiments: An Introduction to Core Concepts. In Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science, ed. James N. Druckman, Donald P. Green, James H. Kuklinski and Arthur Lupia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press pp. 15–26.


Meyer, Michelle N., Patrick R. Heck, Geoffrey S. Holtzman, Stephen M. Anderson, William Cai, Duncan J. Watts and Christopher F. Chabris. Forthcoming. "Objecting to Experiments that Compare Two Unobjectionable Policies or Treatments." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pp. 1–6.


Hyde, Susan D. Forthcoming. "Experiments in International Relations." Annual Review of Political Science pp. 1–22.


Sniderman, Paul M. 2018. "Some Advances in the Design of Survey Experiments." Annual Review of Political Science 21:259–275.


Grossman, Guy. 2011. "Lab-in-the-field Experiments." Newsletter of the APSA Experimental Section 2(2):13–19.


Bertrand, Marianne and Sendhil Mullainathan. 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination." American Economic Review 94(4):991– 1013.


Lowande, Kenneth and Andrew Proctor. Forthcoming. "Bureaucratic Responsiveness to LGBT Americans." American Journal of Political Science pp. 1–30.


Broockman, David E. 2013. "Black Politicians Are More Intrinsically Motivated to Advance Blacks' Interests: A Field Experiment Manipulating Political Incentives." American Journal of Political Science 57(3):521–536.


Butler, Daniel M. and David E. Broockman. 2011. "Do Politicians Racially Discriminate Against Constituents? A Field Experiment on State Legislators." American Journal of Political Science 55(3):463–477.


Broockman, David and Joshua Kalla. 2016. "Durably Reducing Transphobia: A Field Experiment on Door-to-door Canvassing." Science 352(6282):220–224.


Paluck, Elizabeth Levy, Hana Shepherd and Peter M. Aronow. Forthcoming. "Changing Climates of Conflict: A Social Network Experiment in 56 Schools." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pp. 1–6.


Findley, Michael G., Daniel L. Nielson and J.C. Sharman. 2013. "Using Field Experiments in International Relations: A Randomized Study of Anonymous Incorporation." International Organization 67(4):657–93.


Blattman, Christopher. 2009. "From Violence to Voting: War and Political Participation in Uganda." American Political Science Review 103(2):231–247.


Healy, Andrew J., Neil Malhotra and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo. 2010. "Irrelevant Events Affect Voters’ Evaluations of Government Performance." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(29):12804–12809.


Achen, Christopher H. and Larry M. Bartels. 2004. "Blind Retrospection: Electoral Responses to Drought, Flu, and Shark Attacks." Unpublished manuscript, June.


Fowler, Anthony and Andrew B. Hall. Forthcoming. "Do Shark Attacks Influence Presidential Elections? Reassessing a Prominent Finding on Voter Competence." Journal of Politics pp. 1–15.


Miguel, Edward. 2005. "Poverty and Witch Killing." Review of Economic Studies 72(4):1153–1172.


Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson and James A. Robinson. 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation." American Economic Review 91(5):1369–1401.


Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2014. "Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(4):1947–1994.


Hainmueller, Jens and Dominik Hangartner. 2013. "Who Gets a Swiss Passport? A Natural Experiment in Immigrant Discrimination." American Political Science Review 107(1):159–187.


Guess, Andrew and Alexander Coppock. Forthcoming. "Does Counter-Attitudinal Information Cause Backlash? Results from Three Large Survey Experiments." British Journal of Political Science pp. 1–19.


Broockman, David E., Joshua L. Kalla and Jasjeet S. Sekhon. 2017. "The Design of Field Experiments With Survey Outcomes: A Framework for Selecting More Efficient, Robust, and Ethical Designs." Political Analysis 25(4):435–464.


Hainmueller, Jens, Dominik Hangartner and Teppei Yamamoto. 2015. "Validating Vignette and Conjoint Survey Experiments against Real-world Behavior." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(8):2395–2400.


Druckman, James N. and Kjersten R. Nelson. 2003. "Framing and Deliberation: How Citizens’ Conversations Limit Elite Influence." American Journal of Political Science 47(4):729–745.


Mutz, Diana C. and Byron Reeves. 2005. “The New Videomalaise: Effects of Televised Incivility on Political Trust.” American Political Science Review 99(1):1–15.


Posner, Daniel N. 2004. "The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas Are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi." American Political Science Review 98(4):529–545.


Mummolo, Jonathan and Erik Peterson. Forthcoming. "Demand Effects in Survey Experiments: An Empirical Assessment." American Political Science Review pp. 1–13.


Dafoe, Allan, Baobao Zhang and Devin Caughey. Forthcoming. "Information Equivalence in Survey Experiments." Political Analysis pp. 1–32.


Mullinix, Kevin J., Thomas J. Leeper, James N. Druckman and Jeremy Freese. 2015. "The Generalizability of Survey Experiments." Journal of Experimental Political Science 2(2):109–138.


Barabas, Jason and Jennifer Jerit. 2010. "Are Survey Experiments Externally Valid?" American Political Science Review 104(2):226–242.

Because the use of experiments relies on the collection and analysis of data, students should be comfortable with quantitative research and data analysis generally.

Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)


Students will receive written feedback from the instructor; oral feedback from the instructor and peers following presentations; and feedback through one-on-one meetings in preparation for the final assignment.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28