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.


For students of political and social sciences, an expert knowledge of the various methods of collecting and evaluating social science data is indispensable. Taking into account the future professional fields of the students and the heterogeneity of the study program of political and social sciences, the focus of the education is on imparting a specialized knowledge that is needed to be able to critically reflect on studies and statistics.

In the Bachelor's program, the fundamentals of empirical social research are first taught in the compulsory module "Introduction to Social Science Methods". This course is divided into a lecture on "Introduction to Qualitative Methods" and a lecture on "Introduction to Quantitative Methods" of empirical social research.
In the following compulsory module "Statistics 1" in the second trimester, all students are taught the basics of descriptive statistics. Here the students get their first contact with the analysis and interpretation of statistical data.
In the following trimester, students choose either "Statistics 2" in the compulsory module "Deepening of Social Science Methods", where the basics of inferential statistics are taught, or they attend a seminar "Deepening of Qualitative Methods", in which these methods are practiced on the basis of an example.
The courses on qualitative methods are held with the support and close professional cooperation of the Chair of "Sociology of Globalization" headed by Prof. Michael Ernst-Heidenreich.

In the Master's program, no special courses or seminars on topics of empirical social research are offered. However, in cooperation with other disciplines, the teaching and research department offers students the opportunity to apply the empirical-methodological knowledge they have learned in the bachelor's program to their own research projects. In addition, students are encouraged to conduct and evaluate their own empirical survey in their Master's thesis. For this purpose, the teaching and research department offers individual expert advice.