In a bewildering move, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has actually praised the quantitative methods training offered by the Department of Politics and International Relations. This is the same training that 27 of the 28 people in my program formally protested the poor quality of, in a letter to the department. I think the predominant view of the statistics portion of the M.Phil, among those taking it, is that it’s the primary evidence that just because something is taught at Oxford, that doesn’t mean that it’s taught well. It’s the black mark within an otherwise excellent program. A great deal of dissatisfaction with the course was also expressed to me by several members of the faculty, as well as the program director.
Hopefully, the ESRC was looking at one of the other statistics courses being offered by the department, rather than the one given to people doing M.Phils in International Relations. Ours managed to please nobody: neither those already experienced with statistics nor neophytes, neither those who see a lot of value in quantitative methods nor those who prefer other methodologies.
To any fellow M.Phils reading the blog: would you not agree that the quantitative methods training we received was not deserving of praise of this kind?