Quantitative methods and computer applications for economic and social history

Students must do either Quantitative methods 1 or Quantitative methods 2, unless they have been exempted. An initial allocation has been made on the basis of your previous training.

Both quantitative methods courses are taught in Michaelmas Term and assessed by an assignment to be completed over the Christmas Vacation. Two typewritten copies of the completed assignment must be submitted to the Examinations School by noon on Monday of the Second Week of Hilary Term.

Quantitative Methods 1


This course has three principal objectives. The first is to provide an introduction to elementary quantitative methods, covering some of the techniques most widely used in research in the historical and social sciences. The course will be taught at an elementary level, and will keep statistical theory and mathematics to a minimum. The second objective is to introduce statistical software and to show how the relevant statistical calculations can be performed with this software. The final objective is to jointly construct a new dataset of historical interest and analyze this dataset using the techniques learned in the course.


Sessions will run for ten weeks in Michaelmas Term, beginning in Week 0 and continuing to Week 9. There will be a one-hour lecture on Mondays in Nuffield College, and a two-hour computer practical in the History Faculty Computing Room on Wednesdays. In the lecture, we will introduce the basic statistical theory and application of a topic. In the computer practical, students will learn how to use the statistical software and will complete practice exercises on the computers. Feinstein and Thomas (2002) will be used as the course textbook. A more detailed syllabus will be distributed in the first session.

The following topics will be covered: descriptive statistics, correlation, simple linear regression, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, non-parametric tests, extension of the regression model, multiple regression and correlation, non-linear relationships.


The primary text will be

Other useful texts include

Quantitative Methods 2


The aim of this course is to expand students' knowledge of quantitative methods, giving a particular emphasis to applied econometric techniques. It attempts to provide useful analytical tools for those willing to carry out empirical work in their professional lives, and to give those interested in an academic career the theoretical background needed to approach more advanced courses in the subject.

To achieve this, the course is organised around theoretically-oriented lectures with ample opportunity for practical application. The discussion of theoretical topics will be complemented by a close reading of the scholarly literature, where students will be able to see how concepts covered in class are applied by economic historians in practice. Also, since the focus is on applied methods, computer applications form an integral part of the course and extensive use is made of STATA, one of the most widespread statistical packages used to perform econometric analysis.

On completion of the course, the student should be able to understand the basic linear regression model, how it is used to test a variety of theories, the kind of problems that can arise when the assumptions of the model are violated, and how the researcher can overcome such problems. More advanced topics will also be discussed such as time series and panel data econometrics, techniques for modelling limited dependent variables, and dealing with issues surrounding model specification and endogeneity.

(N.B.: In order to balance applied and theoretical econometrics, the material will be presented without resorting to matrix algebra and no advanced skills in mathematics or statistics are required to follow the course. Students must, however, be prepared to adapt to new statistical concepts and symbols commonly used in econometric theory.)


The course will run in the Michaelmas Term, Weeks 1-8. There will be a 90-minute lecture on Mondays, and a one-hour computer practical on Wednesdays. Both sessions meet in the Computing Room in the History Faculty Building (Old High School for Boys) in George Street

Each session consists of a lecture on a theoretical topic, discussion of a prescribed journal article, and hands-on work on the computer. As in other intensive courses, this will require a considerable effort and students are expected to perform a series of tasks:

Hand in weekly problem sets;

Only after these tasks are fulfilled successfully can the course teacher, as required by Examination Regulations, confirm a candidate's satisfactory participation in the course to the board of examiners.


The course textbook will be:

The programme will follow the structure of this book and many of the exercises will be taken from it, or make reference to it. Students are advised to ensure that they have access to a copy of the textbook during Michaelmas term.

For some specific topics, additional readings will be suggested from textbooks such as Gujarati's Basic Econometrics [2003], Kennedy's A Guide to Econometrics [2003], Pindyck & Rubinfeld's Econometric Models and Economic Forecasts [1998], or Thomas' Modern Econometrics: An Introduction [1996], as well as from professional articles. A full reading list for each week will be distributed in the first class.

Computing Facilities

Students may use the Computing Room in the Faculty of History (Old High School for Boys) in George Street, 8 am till 8 pm seven days a week, unless the room is being used for a class. There are 19 computers connected to an A4 printer.  An A3+ sized scanner is also available. Access to the building and the room is by swipe card. In order to gain access to the room, you must first register with the Faculty's IT Office tel. (6)15031 or email itsupport@history.ox.ac.uk