Fall Term 2016

Introduction to Computation for the Social Sciences

This lecture serves as an introductory course to computer science and programming for a social science audience. The main emphasis of the course is on providing students with a good conceptual understanding of fundamental principles in computer sciences and of basic programming concepts. Topics covered range from basic principles of information coding, computer systems and information storage, to data types, data structures, algorithms, different programming paradigms and database systems. Concepts are taught “in context” throughout the lecture, i.e., students will learn concepts and directly apply them in programming exercises structured along relevant social science applications. The lecture will rely on Python as teaching language.


Big Data Analysis

This block course provides a basic introduction to big data and corresponding quantitative research methods. The objective of the course is to familiarize students with big data analysis as a tool for addressing substantive research questions. The course begins with a basic introduction to big data and discusses what the analysis of these data entails, as well as associated technical, conceptual and ethical challenges. Strength and limitations of big data research are discussed in depth using real-world examples. Students then engage in case study exercises in which small groups of students develop and present a big data concept for a specific real-world case. This includes practical exercises to familiarize students with the format of big data. It also provides a first hands-on experience in handling and analyzing large, complex data structures. The block course is designed as a primer for anyone interested in attaining a basic understanding of what big data analysis entails. There are no prerequisite requirements for this course.