IPSA UCT Summer School


What?  Participants choose one (1) two week module from the following options:  Comparative Research Design and Methods, Case Study Analysis, Comparative Survey Research, Advanced Regression Methods, or Multi-Level Modeling.  Each module consists of both lectures and practical sections

Where?  Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

When?  23 November to 4 December 2015

Who?  Advanced MA or PhD students, early career academics, professionals working in relevant fields.  IPSA will make a limited number of travel grants available for participants from African countries.


Send us an application consisting of a Letter of Motivation and course choice to: abcssrsummerschool@gmail.com

Applications close on October 23, 2015



Preliminary list of courses


  • Advanced Regression Analysis (Dr. Cameron Wimpy, Texas A&M University)

This course is designed to take students with a minimal background in statistics and mathematics
and teach them the tools that they need to test their theories and produce presentations of  their results for the top journals in Political Science, International Relations, Public Policy, and other related disciplines. Students are encouraged to bring their own data sets so that they can get hands-on experiences with applying the techniques covered in this course. Thus the emphasis is on making the transitions between theory, model specification, and result presentation as seamless as possible. In this course we will also have a particular focus on employing and analyzing survey data.
The course is divided into three parts. The first part involves a thorough presentation of the logic and the central assumptions underlying the multiple ordinary least squares regression model. The second part focuses on issues that researchers typically encounter as they attempt to test their theories in a regression framework. The third part focuses on application and extension of the concepts covered in the first two parts. The topics covered in the third part of the course will depend on student interests and how much time we have.
This is a hands-on course, meaning that a major goal is to have students learn about techniques by putting them to work with statistical software. To facilitate this, we will have lectures on each topic followed by lab sessions. In these lab sessions students will have the option of working with their own data or working with data provided by the instructor. The main statistical software program that we will use for the labs is R.


  • Applied Multi Level Modeling (Dr. Johannes Karreth, University of Albany SUNY)

This applied workshop introduces participants to basic and advanced approaches to the quantitative analysis of multilevel data. Multilevel (also known as hierarchical or structured) data are made up of observations that are nested in higher-level units, such as groups of survey respondents in different countries, students in different schools, or country-level observations at repeated time points. Multilevel data provide special opportunities and challenges for statistical inference. Participants will learn how to estimate appropriate models for multilevel data across a wide variety of contexts, including differences between groups, across time, and effects that vary between groups or across time. The workshop also addresses choice modeling in multilevel data structures, using multilevel modeling to estimate public opinion in small areas from national surveys, and using multilevel modeling for time-series cross-sectional data.


  • Comparative Survey Research (Professor Bruno Cautrés, Science Po Paris)

The course tackles both the theoretical and practical aspects of cross-national (and crosscultural) analysis based on comparative surveys such as the World Values Studies, the International Social Survey Programme or the Afrobarometer. The main course objectives are to teach key issues facing the developments and empirical use of large scale cross-national surveys from the early stages of their conception, to the final stage of data analysis and explanations about the so-called “national differences”. The course will particularly cover fundamental issues such as equivalence and comparability: how comparative surveys face the issue of comparability? What are the main methodological points that one has to consider in doing and in analyzing comparative surveys before concluding that the relationship between Y and X differs among countries? The course will pay a lot of attention to comparative data analysis techniques, showing how these techniques can be used to test for the “country effect”: how regression analysis, factor analysis (and other multivariate techniques) make possible to control for “country effect”? The relationship between multivariate analysis and comparability will be central in the course. A major concern will be the question of homogeneity/heterogeneity of statistical relationship across groups of countries. We will make links between this fundamental of comparative surveys analysis with issues concerning the doing of comparative surveys analysis: how the making of such surveys drives to some problems in their analysis? Lessons will consist of a mixture of theoretical presentations based on readings or handouts and of practical sessions using the data.


  • Comparative Research Design and Comparative Methods (Professor Dirk Berg-

Schlosser, University of Marburg)

Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern empirical social science, once stated that the comparative method is the only one that suits the social sciences. But Descartes already had reminded us that “comparaison n’est pas raison”, which means that comparison is not reason (or theory) by itself. This course provides an introduction and overview of systematic comparative analyses in the social sciences and shows how to employ this method for constructive explanation and theory building. It begins with comparisons of very few cases and specific “most similar” and “most different” research designs. A major part is then devoted to the often occurring situation of dealing with a small number of highly complex cases, for example when comparing EU member states.  Latin American political systems, or particular policy areas. In response to this complexity, new approaches and software have been developed in recent years (“Qualitative Comparative Analysis”, QCA, and related methods). These procedures are able to reduce complexity and to arrive at “configurational” solutions based on set theory and Boolean algebra, which are more meaningful in this context than the usual broad-based statistical methods. In a last section, these methods are contrasted with more common statistical comparative methods at the macro-level of states or societies and the respective strengths and weaknesses are discussed. Some basic quantitative or qualitative methodological training is probably useful to get more out of the course, but participants with little methodological training should find no major obstacles to follow.

Participants should bring their own (Microsoft-compatible) laptops. Mac users need a Windows emulator for the (freely available) software.


  • Case Study Analysis (Professor Cameron Thiess, Arizona State University)

This course provides participants with a set of methodological tools that enable them to use case study methods in pursuit of causal inference. We focus on the strengths and limitations of different small-n methods aimed at establishing causality. We study the types and scope of inference that are possible with these methods and analyze whether and how small-n methods can be nested into mixed-methods research designs. The course begins with an overview of different approaches to understanding and establishing causality, including mechanisms, counterfactuals, and comparative logics. After exploring these causal logics in the abstract, as well as debates about their role in political science, we explore methods associated with each and the associated critical issue of case selection. These methods include individual case study methods, including cross-case, comparative research designs (e.g., Mill’s methods, structured-focused comparisons, and typological theorization) and within-case methods (e.g., congruence-matching, pattern matching, and process tracing). We also examine counterfactual analyses, historical analyses, and macro-historical comparisons. The final part of the course turns to the appropriateness of incorporating case study methods into mixed method research designs.



The 2015 IPSA Summer School will be hosted by the Centre of Social Science Research located at the  University of Cape Town, South Africa. Located on the slopes of the Devil's Peak Mountain (no devil, but you might see mountain zebras), the University of Cape Town is the leading university in South Africa and the African continent in general.



Participants are expected to cover all related costs during their stay and participation at the Summer School. This includes fees, flights, transfers, accommodation and daily expenses.



Course fees for 2015 are $450 for the course you choose.


A proof of payment will be requested to register. Payments can be made directly to UCT (transfer details in the information package for successful applicants)


IPSA will make available a limited number of travel grants for participants from Sub- Saharan  African countries (excluding South Africa). Please send us your letter of motivation as well as two academic Letters of Recommendation (Professors) if you wish to apply for these grants.

Registered IPSA and SAPSA members qualify for a $50 discount on the fee ($400 per course).



Cape Town International Airport is serviced by most international airlines. Direct flights to Cape Town are operated from Europe by Air France, KLM and Lufthansa (among others). Flights from the USA  and Asia may need to connect  via Johannesburg. Here you will need to pass immigration and customs as well as claim you baggage before your connecting domestic flight to Cape Town.

Airport transfer from and to Cape Town airport must be arranged by the participant. All registered participants will receive a comprehensive information package with our recommended transfer operators and taxi services. We strongly advise to use these trusted partners.



Accommodation must be booked and paid for by participants directly. We recommend booking accommodation close to the University campus. Suburbs such as Mowbray, Rondebosch, Claremont and Bishopscourt offer outstanding accommodation and proximity to the Campus. Expect to pay between $75 and $100 for Hotel accommodation and between $40 and $60 for budget accommodation. Special rates for participants have been made available by our partners. Details of the rates and a list of accommodation options will be provided to registered participants. We advise participants to book as early as possible as Cape Town is a popular travel and holiday destination during this time of year.


Daily expenses:

Participants are expected to cover all daily expenses during their stay in Cape Town. Suburbs close to the Campus offer all shops of daily need. Expect supermarkets to operate between 9am and 9pm daily. Restaurant meal will cost between $7 and $15 (without wine) and take away budget options start at around $3. Make sure to sample our fantastic local wine starting at around $4 per bottle.

The campus offers a number of meal and snack vendors. Alternatively, restaurant transfers can be arranged (at additional cost) for groups during lunch. Depending on accommodation, additional transfer costs to and from the Summer School venue may occur.



All applicants are advised to check whether they will require a Visa to travel to South Africa. We recommend doing so well in advance as application procedures may require additional time. We recommend participants do not book any flights or accommodation before they have verified their Visa status. For further information please check with the South African Immigration Service.


Why come (besides the classes of course):

Have we mentioned Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world? Hike table mountain, surf our waves, spot penguins, sample wine or explore the picturesque Bo- Kaap and historic District Six, Cape Town is bound to entice you.