Empirical Methods and Statistics Division

The key qualifications of social sciences include the ability to use suitable empirical methods to analyze social situations. They range from surveys in terms of systematic observations, inquiries (interviews) or experiments to subject-related evaluation methods of the collected data. Empirical methods, both theoretically and practically, address issues of systematizing such approaches. The methodological training in the social sciences is primarily about teaching the students these principles and familiarize them with the methodological options available. As a cross-sectoral task, we seek to provide principles not only for sociological empiricism, but also for political, economic and historical sciences.

Subjects from the fields of social inequality, labor market, and the course of life are of empirical interest for the division’s own research activities. In this context, we have analyzed, for example, frequently unforeseen and unintended implications of life decisions for the future course of life. Both qualitative and statistical methods of empirical social research are applied in order to answer specific research questions.

The division not only counsels students, but also provides colleagues with technical advice in the field of empirical social research. It ranges from providing methodological support when applying for a given project to recommending specific analytical methods.

Studies

Students of social sciences and public affairs must have specialist knowledge of the various methods used for collecting and analyzing socio-scientific data. With a view to the future professional fields of the students and the heterogeneity of the Social Sciences and Public Affairs program, the teaching emphasis has been placed on imparting specialist knowledge needed to critically evaluate studies and statistics.

The bachelor’s program includes an introductory course that addresses the general principles of empirical social research. The students are enabled to apply this knowledge across disciplines in the further course of their studies. The subsequent methodological training is a compulsory course for all students and covers the basics of descriptive statistics. Furthermore, a lecture on qualitative methods introduces the basics of this subarea of empirical social research. In the following trimester, the students either choose to enhance their statistical knowledge in the field of inferential statistics or they attend a seminar on qualitative methods where they consolidate their knowledge by applying practical examples. The seminars on qualitative methods are carried out with the assistance and in close cooperation with the professorship in the Sociology of Globalization, held by Prof. Teresa Koloma Beck.

The master’s program does not cover special courses or seminars on empirical social research issues. However, the Empirical Methods and Statistics Division, together with other disciplines, offers students the opportunity to apply the specialist empirical and methodological knowledge gained during the bachelor’s program to research projects of their own. Moreover, students are encouraged to conduct and analyze empirical surveys in their Master's theses. To this end, the division provides individual technical advice.