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Department of Political Science

Professorship for Political Methodology

Methods Start

What factors explain the low political participation of citizens in Western democracies? What impact does naturalisation have on the integration of migrants in Switzerland? To what extent and under what circumstances can citizens be influenced by political advertising campaigns?

Political science questions require a range of different research methods to answer them adequately. Broad and well-founded knowledge of methods is therefore a basic prerequisite for successful and innovative research work. To paraphrase Max Weber: Science is method. For this reason, the Chair of Methods is primarily dedicated to teaching basic methodological knowledge, but also to in-depth teaching and research in the field of quantitative methods. Regression methods as well as maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference are used. Quasi-experimental and experimental as well as qualitative methods are also applied. The current research projects are correspondingly wide-ranging: Political psychology, international relations, political sociology are just a few of the sub-disciplines currently being researched.

The book "The Ambivalent Partisan: How Critical Loyalty Promotes Democracy" (Oxford University Press, 2012), co-authored by Prof. Marco Steenbergen, has won two prestigious awards: (1) the David O. Sears Prize of the International Society of Political Psychology for the Best Book in Mass Politics published in 2012 and (2) the Robert E. Lane Prize of the American Political Science Association for the Best Book in Political Psychology.


Director of the area


Post Docs:
Dr. Laurence Brandenberger
Dr. Benjamin Schlegel
Dr. David Attewell

Doctoral students/assistants:
Catarina Pereira
Valeria Vuk

Auxiliary assistants:
Flakë Haziri


Main research areas

Ambivalence, theories of democracy, American and European politics, and statistics for social sciences.

Teaching and supervision

Science is method. Accordingly, methodological competence is one of the most important skills a student can acquire. The ability to understand, use and teach methods provides a strong competitive advantage in today's job market, both inside and outside the academy. A solid methodological education means that students understand both qualitative and quantitative methods. It also means that students acquire a solid and fundamental understanding that prepares them for a lifetime of methodological learning. Therefore, the key philosophy of the Chair in Political Methodology is to teach students how to think about research, data and scientific inference. This means going beyond cookbook recipes and a point-and-click approach to analysis. Instead, students learn how scientific inference is done, with a particular focus on (model) identification and estimation.


We encounter statistics every day. Understanding statistics, being able to apply them yourself and working with data is becoming increasingly important in many professional fields. When we ask alumni which skills they acquired during their studies have proven particularly useful in their professional activities, they often refer to methodological training and analytical work.

«In general, dealing with sources is very important, e.g. understanding scientific publications. You should be able to understand what has been worked out there, for example, quantitatively - journalists often have trouble with that - with the method training you can judge whether a study is meaningful or not.»
Adrienne Fichter, Editor Media Magazine Republik

The IPZ is the only institute in Switzerland with its own chair for methods in political science. I Methods training is a central and integrative component of the entire political science curriculum. In the first three semesters of the bachelor's program, our students deal with the logic of research and learn the basics and application references of quantitative methods. In the fourth semester, they expand and deepen their methodological knowledge by studying qualitative methods In the master's program, too, attendance at two specific modules allows students to delve deeper into methods of empirical research. In the political science curriculum of the IPZ, much emphasis is also placed on applying the acquired methodological knowledge in the elective and optional modules provided for this purpose.



  • Introduction to Methods in Political Science (HS)
  • Applied Methods in Political Science (HS/FS)
  • Introduction to Political Psychology (FS)


  • Advanced Methods I (HS)
  • Advanced Methods II (FS)
  • Advanced Statistical Models in Political Analysis using R (HS)
  • Data Visualization (HS)
  • Understanding Polls (HS)
  • Big Data and Statistical Learning (FS)
  • Web Development (FS)


  • Research Design and Causal Inference (HS)
  • Data Visualization (HS)
  • Intro to quant. Methods (HS)

You can find detailed information about the courses of the staff members on the personal pages.


Department of Political Science
Affolternstrasse 56
8050 Zurich
Tel: 044 634 58 35 / 044 634 38 41
Office opening hours: Monday to Friday: 09:00 - 12:00 / 13:30 - 16:30


Support information

Consultation hours:

Prof. Dr. Marco Steenbergen
Monday 13.00-15.00, Office AFL-H-335
(without appointment)
Other appointments by appointment

Dr. Benjamin Schlegel / R Helpdesk.
R-Help office hours are open to anyone with any relationship to the IPZ (BA/MA students, etc.) to ask any and all possible and impossible questions about data analysis with R.R-Help office hours are held in HS24 on Friday, 1:30-3:30pm in AFL H-343. No registration is necessary.