Praise and censure

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?

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “Praise and censure”

  1. I never had any stats training, but it’s my general impression that research methods courses are all provided more for funding bodies than the students’ needs.

  2. Amazing.

    Without identifying myself, I can share my conviction that the course was very badly organized and taught, indeed. As far as I could tell, this was the sense of everyone in the program, as well as most of the professors affiliated with it.

    Hopefully, this won’t allow Tilley et al to argue that they did a good job, when the next round of condemnation arrives next year.

  3. I have to say I am flabberghasted by this. It is like something from 1984 – the scene from the canteen where the party is announcing record output rates in shoes and other consumables, and everyone cheers, while at the same time everyone knows they have holes in their boots and they can’t find razorblades for love nor money.

    There is NOTHING to praise about the quantative methods programme whatsoever. It has been subject to sustained critique from faculty for a number of years and outright revolt from the student body for two years now. The department has even admitted the profound inadequacy of its provision.

    This judgement tells you nothing about the stats training at Oxford and everything about the ESRC.

  4. Lee,

    I am glad someone else is angry about this. I don’t want them to be able to use it as cover next year.

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