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MA in Politics, Big Data and Quantitative Methods

Big data and quantitative methods are transforming political processes and decisions in everyday life. Local, national and international administrations are making "open data" available to wide audiences; giant, world-level web organisations are putting more and more "services" in synergy (search, map, data storage, data treatment, trade, etc.); and some private companies or governments are developing strongly ideological projects in relation with big data, which may have major consequence on the means by which we are ruled. All these issues involve data in text, image, numeric and video formats on unprecedented scales. This means there is a growing need for trained specialists who will have the capacity to compete and/or collaborate with strictly business or technique-oriented actors on the basis of sound knowledge from political and international studies.

Programme content

In contrast to degrees such as Data Science or Data Analytics, where the focus ends up being almost exclusively on data practices and computational tools, the MA in Big Data and Quantitative Methods provides you with a knowledge and understanding of the central and innovative quantitative approaches in political science, the debates they have generated, and the implications of different approaches to issues concerning big data and public policy. The MA also draws on the considerable expertise which Warwick now has in quantitative methods located in PAIS, Sociology, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (CIM) and the Q-Step Centre.

Given that a noteworthy part of big data is actually social data, this MA programme seeks to attract students from a variety of social science-related disciplines, including politics, sociology, philosophy and economics; you do not need a background in statistics to be eligible for the course. Graduates of this degree will be able both to engage technically with data released at a new scale and to keep a critical expertise on their relevance and quality, skills which are increasingly required in the competitive global job market.

All of our MA programmes are worth 180 CATS (credits) in total. Students are required to take three core modules (each worth 20 CATS): Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods (previously Quantitative Data Analysis and Interpretation); Big Data Research: Hype or Revolution?, and Advanced Quantitative Research, and will choose a further 60 CATS from our range of optional modules in PAIS or from other departments across Warwick including Law, Philosophy, Sociology and the CIM. If you pass the taught modules, you will proceed to composing a dissertation of 10,000 words (60 CATS).

In addition to regular modules, the Warwick Q-Step Centre is offering a range of different masterclasses. Topics include Reproducibility, Quantitative text analysis, Web data collection, Geostatistics, Inferential network analysis, Machine learning, Agent-based simulation and Longitudinal data analysis. All masterclasses are designed as comprehensive but gentle introductions to methods that are not covered at length in core method modules. They are intended to broaden your horizons and provide concepts and tools to be applied in your future research. You will also be invited to two intensive training events: the Spring Methods Camp, featuring internationally renowned speakers on a rotating yearly topic, and Specialist Master Classes, 1/2-day bespoke workshops on cutting-edge quantitative methods with leading experts in their field.

Further information

About the course

Programme Director:
Philippe Blanchard



The Student Experience


The flexibility of choosing your own modules makes PAIS unique and aligns the individual to their personal areas of interest. The professors are very friendly, approachable and helpful in their assessment and feedback mechanism. The live discussions between tutors and students during seminars enables students to air their views, express themselves and exchange ideas, which is quite fascinating. The seminars are also comprised of people from diverse cultures which grants the opportunity of meeting and learning people from all over the world. Indeed, it has been a wonderful and unforgettable time for me at the University of Warwick.

- Oluwaseun Adebola, Current MA International Relations

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