Professor Florian M. Hollenbach

Email:; Web:

Office: 2061 Allen Building; Phone: 979-845-5021

Office Hours: Wedneday 1:00pm to 3:00pm or by appointment

Class Meeting Time:

Mondays, 1:40pm - 4:30pm

Class Location: Bush Academic Building West (ALLN) TBA

Class Website:

The syllabus on my website will be continuously updated to reflect any schedule changes. Additional material will be posted on the shared Google Team Drive.

All assignments are to be submitted electronically via email to



At the end of the semester, after completing this course, students are expected to:


The class will meet once a week from 1:40pm to 4:30pm on Mondays. Generally you should classes to be about one hour of lecturing and 90 minutes of discussion. We will cover a variety of sometimes complicated concepts. I expect all of you to have \emph{all} of the \it{required} reading done before each class period. Even when I lecture, I expect you to ask questions and participate actively. In the second part of class we will discuss the readings and applications in more of a group setting. We will also try to work through an example application whenever possible. It is important that you familiarize yourself with R before the class starts.


Your grade will be based on the following:

  1. Two discussion questions for every class session (10%)
  2. One in-class presentation (20%)
  3. Two paper reviews, simulating a review for the APSR/AJPS/JOP (15%)
  4. Motivation of Research Question, i.e., paper Introduction (15%)
  5. Final Project Research Design \& NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant proposal (30% + 15%)

The grading scale (in %) used in this class for all written assignments, and the overall class grade will be the following:


The University Writing Center (UWC), located in 1.214 Sterling C. Evans Library and 205 West Campus Library, offers one-on-one consultations to writers. To find out more about UWC services or to schedule an appointment, call 458-1455, visit the web page at, or stop by in person.

You can find some additional resources for academic writing here: Writing is one of the most fundamental skills for academics. All of us struggle and it requires a lot of practice. Do not hesitate to ask for help.


All students should follow the highest standards of academic integrity. Cheating or plagiarism will not be tolerated in any way. If you are unsure what entails plagiarism, come talk to me. For more info, see: & “An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.” Your written assignments are to be submitted via Turnitin, which makes the detection of plagiarism and cheating very easy. Any cases of cheating or plagiarism will be submitted to the academic honor council, no exceptions.


We will be reading both articles and book chapters throughout the semester. I expect you to do all the required readings prior to sending your discussion questions on Monday morning. Since we will use them a lot, you are required to have the following books.

Required Books:

- Dunning, Thad. 2012. "__Natural Experiments in Social Sciences.__" Cambridge University Press. (denoted NESS below)

- Seawright, Jason. 2016. "__Multi-Method Social Science.__" Cambridge University Press. (denoted MMSS below)

- Angrist, Joshua and Pischke, Joern-Steffen. 2014. "__Mastering Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect.__" Princeton University Press. (denoted MM below)

- King, Gary and Keohane, Robert O. and Verba, Sidney. 1994.  "__Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research}''. Princeton University Press.__" (denoted KKV below)

For part of this class we will be working on the computer with statistical software. We will use the statistical programming language R. R is available for download here:. I would recommend you download R-Studio, which is a software (a set of integrated tools) that makes the use of R much easier. You can download R-Studio here:. Both R and R-Studio are free. I would encourage you to install R-studio and play around with it for a bit.


We will usually once a week during the semester. You can expect me to be prepared, give lecture, and answer questions. I expect you to attend class unless circumstances prohibit you from doing so. If you must miss class, please let me know in advance. You are still responsible to do the readings and submit discussion questions and assignments, even if you are missing class.

I strongly encourage you to not use a laptop in class, unless we are working together in R. Laptops have been shown to be a distraction not only to the students using them but also fellow class mates. A recent study has found that not having laptops in class can have a similar effect as hiring a SAT tutor

Laptops as distraction

If you think you have good reasons for why you need to use a computer, you may do so.

In addition, please make sure your cell phones are on silent mode and refrain from using them during class time.


Except in the case of observance of a religious holiday, to be excused, the student must notify his or her instructor in writing (acknowledged e-mail message is acceptable) prior to the date of absence. In cases where advance notification is not feasible (e.g. accident or emergency) the student must provide notification by the end of the second working day after the absence. This notification should include an explanation of why the notice could not be sent prior to the class. Accommodations sought for absences due to the observance of a religious holiday can be sought either prior or after the absence, but not later than two working days after the absence. Legitimate circumstances include religious holidays, illness (verified by a doctor), serious family emergencies and participation in group activities sponsored by the University, etc. See for additional information. Please note that I do not accept Xeroxed copies of medical excuses from students.

Unexcused late work will be penalized by a 7.5 percentage point deduction for each 24hrs your work is late. For example, if you hand in the assignment on the same day it is due, but after the stated deadline, your maximum score will be 92.5%. If you hand in your assignment more than 24hrs late, your maximum score will be 85%, after 48hrs it would be 77.5%, and so on. Late work will be excused only in the case of university-excused absences. Only under extreme circumstance will I make exceptions to these rules.


Students that want to appeal a grade received on an exam or assignment must submit a regrading request in written form (e.g., email). This request has to be turned in within five working days after the graded exams or assignments are returned to the class. The written statement must explain exactly why the student believes the current grade is incorrect. I will then regrade the entire assignment extra carefully. NOTE, as a consequence your grade may go up or down.


The best place to ask questions is in the classroom. If your question is not related to class material or relevant to other students, we can discuss it after class. I encourage you to visit my office hours to discuss any difficulties with the readings or homeworks. Again, however, you should at least attempt to solve the problem on your own first.

You can expect me to reply to emails within 24 hours during the work week. I will not reply to emails on the weekend, except for urgent matters. As with all business related correspondence, please include an appropriate salutation, identify yourself, and write in complete sentences.


All discussions will remain confidential. University policy is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Policy Statement. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, currently located in the Disability Services building at the Student Services at White Creek complex on west campus or call 979-845-1637. For additional information, visit

Reasonable accommodations will be made for all students with disabilities, but it is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor early in the term. Do not wait until just before an exam to decide you want to inform the instructor of a learning disability; any accommodations for disabilities must be arranged well in advance.


The Department of Political Science supports the Texas A&M University commitment to diversity, and welcomes individuals from any racial, ethnic, religious, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and nationality. (See In the spirit of this vital commitment, in this course each voice in the classroom has something of value to contribute to all discussions.

Everyone is expected to respect the different experiences, beliefs and values expressed by fellow students and the instructor, and will engage in reasoned discussion that refrains from derogatory comments about other people, cultures, groups, or viewpoints.

Changes to Syllabus

I reserve the right to update/modify/clarify the syllabus with advance notification.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (01/14)

Is the science of comparative politics possible?


  1. Boix, Carles & Susan C. Stokes. 2009. Introduction. Boix, Carles and Susan C. Stokes (eds.): Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press (On Google Team Drive)

  2. Lijphart, Arend. (1971). Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method. American Political Science Review, 65(3), 682-693.

  3. Przeworski, Adam (2007): Is the Science of Comparative Politics Possible? Boix, Carles and Susan C. Stokes (eds.): Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 147- 171.

  4. Hall, Peter A. (2003): Aligning Ontology and Methodology in Comparative Research. In: Mahoney, James and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (eds.): Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 373-404.

(1/21): No Class; MLK day

Week 2 (01/28): Concepts


- Sartori, Giovanni. 1970. “Concept Misinformation in Comparative Politics.” American Political Science Review 64(4): 1033-1053.

- Collier, David, and James E. Mahon. “Conceptual Stretching Revisited: Adapting Categories in Comparative Analysis.” American Political Science Review 87(4): 845-855.

Week 3 (02/05): Models and Theory


- Geddes, Barbara. 2003."__Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics.__"  University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor __Chapter 2__ (available electronically through library)

- Gerring, John. 2011. "__Social Science Methodology : A Unified Framework.__" Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. __Chapter 3__ (available electronically through library)

Week 4 (02/12): Case Selection


- Geddes, Barbara. 2003."__Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics.__"  University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor __Chapters 3 & 4__ (available electronically through library)

- MMSS Chapter 4

Additional Readings:

- Gerring, John. 2007. "__Case Study Research: Principles and Practices." Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapter 4

Week 5 (02/19): Case Studies & Analytical Narratives


- Gerring, John. 2007. "__Case Study Research: Principles and Practices.__" Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapter 2

- MMSS: Chapter 3

- Bates, Robert H. and Greif, Avner and Levi, Margaret and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent and Weingast, Barry R. 1998. "_Analytical Narratives." Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ: Introduction

Additional Readings:

- Gerring, John. 2007. "__Case Study Research: Principles and Practices.__" Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA.

Week 6 (02/26): Measurement or Concepts in Practice


Week 7 (03/04): Concepts of Causal Inference


- Imbens, Guido and Rubin, Donald D. 2015. "__Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences: An Introduction.__" Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapters 1 & 2: pages 3--30

- Rubin, Donald 2005. "__Causal Inference Using Potential Outcomes.__" Journal of the American Statistical Association. 100(469):322–331. (on Google Team Drive) 

- Pearl, Judea and Glymour, Madelyn and Jewell, Nicholas P. 2016. "__Causal Inference in Statistics : A Primer.__" John Wiley & Sons: West Sussex, UK. __Skim Chapter 1 as necessary, Read Chapter 2__ (available electronically through library)

Additional readings:

- Cunningham: Chapters "Directed acyclical graphs" & "Potential outcomes causal model"

(03/11) No Class; Spring Break

Week 8 (03/18) Text as Data?

Readings: TBA

Week 9 (03/25) Experiments


- MM: Chapter 1

- Duflo, Esther, Rachel Glennerster and Michael Kremer. 2007. "__Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit.__" [](  __Chapters 4 & 5__

Applications (pick two):

- Habyarimana, Humphreys, Posner, and Weinstein. 2006. "__Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach.__" American Political Science Review. 109(4): 709-726.

- Paler, Laura. 2013. "__Keeping the Public Purse: An Experiment in Windfalls, Taxes, and the Incentives to Restrain Government.__" American Political Science Review 104(7): 706-725

Additional Readings:

- MMSS Chapter 7

Week 10 (04/01) Discovering Natural Experiments & Diff-in-Diffs


- Dunning: Chapters 1 & 2

- Sekhon, Jasjeet S. and Titiunik, Rocio. 2012. "__When Natural Experiments Are Neither Natural nor Experiments.__" American Political Science Review. 106(1):35–57.

Applications (pick two):

- Galiani, Sebastian and Ernesto Schargrodsky. 2010. "__Property Rights for the Poor: Effects of Land Titling.__" Journal of Public Economics 94(9):700-729.

- Blattman, Christopher and Jeannie Annan, 2010. "__The Consequences of Child Soldiering.__" The Review of

Economics and Statistics, MIT Press 92(4): 882-898.

- Hainmueller, Jens, and Hangartner, Dominik. 2013. "__Who Gets a Swiss Passport? A Natural Experiment in Immigrant Discrimination.__" American Political Science Review. 107(1):159–187

Additional Reading:

- MMSS Chapter 6

Week 11 (04/08) Regression Discontinuity


- Dunning: Chapter 3 & section 5.2
- MM: chapter 4

Applications (pick two):

- Dell, Melissa. 2010. "__The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita.__" Econometrica 78(6): 1863-1903.

- Dell, Melissa, and Pablo Querubin. 2018. "__Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies__.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 133(2): 701-764.

- Brollo, Fernanda and Nannicini, Tommaso. 2012. "__Tying Your Enemy's Hands in Close Races: The Politics of Federal Transfers in Brazil.__" American Political Science Review. 106(4): 742–61. 

- Szakonyi, David. 2018. "__Businesspeople in Elected Office: Identifying Private Benefits from Firm-Level Returns.__" American Political Science Review. 112(2): 322–338.

Additional readings:

- Cunningham: chapter "Regression discontinuity"

- Cattaneo, Matias D. and Idrobo, Nichol\`as and Titiunik, Roc\'io. 2018. "__A Practical Introduction to Regression Discontinuity Designs: Volume II__" Cambridge Elements: Quantitative and Computational Methods for Social Science. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. [](

- Calonico, Sebastian and Cattaneo, Matias D. and Titiunik, Rocio. 2014. "__Robust nonparametric confidence intervals for regression-discontinuity designs.__ Econometrica. 82(6):2295-2326.

- Eggers, Andrew C. and Freier, Ronny and Grembi, Veronica and Nannicini, Tommaso. 2018. "__Regression Discontinuity Designs Based on Population Thresholds: Pitfalls and Solutions.__" American Journal of Political Science. 62(1):210-229. 

Week 12 (04/15) Instrumental Variables


- Dunning: chapter 4 & section 5.3

- MM: chapter 3

Applications (pick two):

- Acharya,  Avidit and Blackwell, Matthew and Sen, Maya. 2016. "__The Political Legacy of American Slavery.__" The Journal of Politics.  78(3): 621-641.

- Nunn Nathan. 2008. "__The Long Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades.__" Quarterly Journal of Economics. 123(1):139-176.

- Trounstine, Jessica. 2016."__Segregation and Inequality in Public Goods.__" American Journal of Political Science. 60(3): 709-725.

Additional readings:

- Cunningham: chapter "Instrumental variables"

- Betz, Timm and Cook, Scott J. and Hollenbach, Florian M. 2019. "__Spatial Interdependence and Instrumental Variable Models.__". Political Science Research and Methods. In Print.

Week 13 (04/22) Surveys & Survey Experiments


- Fowler, Floyd J. 2009. "__Applied Social Research Methods: Survey research methods (4th ed.).__" SAGE Publications:  Thousand Oaks, CA. __Chapters 1 - 3__ (available electronically through library)

- Hainmueller, Jens and  Hangartner, Dominik and Yamamoto, Teppei. 2015. "__Do survey experiments capture real-world behavior?__" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [](

Applications (pick two):

- Lyall, Jason and Blair, Graeme and Imai, Kosuke. 2013. "__Explaining Support for Combatants during Wartime: A Survey Experiment in Afghanistan.__" American Political Science Review. 107(4):679–705. 

- Frye, Timothy. 2006. "__Original Sin, Good Works, and Property Rights in Russia: Evidence from a Survey Experiment.__" World Politics 58(4):479-504.

- Malesky, Eddy J. and Gueorguiev, Dimitar D. and Jensen, Nathan M. 2015. "__Monopoly Money: Foreign Investment and Bribery in Vietnam, a Survey Experiment.__" American Journal of Political Science. 59(2):419-439. 

- Blair, Graeme, Kosuke Imai, and Jason Lyall. 2014. "__Comparing and Combining List and Endorsement Experiments: Evidence from Afghanistan.__" American Journal of Political Science. 58(4):1043-1063.

Week 14 (04/29) Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence


- Humphreys, Macarten, and Alan M. Jacobs. 2015. “Mixing Methods: A Bayesian Approach.” American Political Science Review 109(4): 653-673

- MMSS Chapter 8

- Lieberman, Evan I. 2005. "__Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research.__" American Political Science Review 99(3): 435-452.

Week 15 (05/06)

Final Research Design & NSF Proposal Project Description due