Master of Arts in Political Science with Focus onComputational Social Sciences


The focus field of Computational Social Sciences closes a gap in the German university landscape. For the past several years, there has been an increase in the use of computer-aided systems for the analysis of processes within the social sciences. On the one hand, new data sources have been exploited and made accessible to the public by the use of computers (Big Data, Web Scraping, Data Mining). On the other hand, computers with the ability to process complex social systems provide a new way of looking at phenomena, whose analysis using conventional processes was inadequate at best.

Accordingly, focus will shift to things like dynamic social processes (e.g. the development of social movements), development within large social networks (e.g. information cascade) or the impact assessment of interference in ecosystems or habitats (construction of power lines, urban planning, port expansions).

This degree programme is intended to convey the wide range of possible applications of computer-aided processes in social research and to enable students to use these processes independently and in a research-oriented manner. Therefore this academic focus area has a strong interdisciplinary orientation and includes a course offering drawn from modules in political science, computer science and business information systems. On the whole, it is characterized by a strong emphasis on methodology.

Research Profile

This degree programme presents a cross section of selected fields and methods pertaining to Computational Social Science. Its structure is interdisciplinary, and this is also reflected by the teaching staff. The programme´s research profile comprises a wide range of different application areas.

Data mining uses computerised methods like automated search scripts to create and analyse  new data records. By means of this new data records new questions can be developed and processed.

Tilly, Roman; Fischbach, Kai; Schoder, Detlef (forthcoming): Mineable or Messy? Assessing the Quality of Macro-level Tourism Information Derived from Social Media. In: Electronic Markets - The International Journal on Networked Business

Gensler, Sonja; Völckner, Franziska; Egger, Marc; Fischbach, Kai; Schoder, Detlef (forthcoming): Listen to Your Customers: Insights into Brand Image Using Online Consumer-Generated Product Reviews. In: International Journal of Electronic Commerce.


A second focus is placed on the simulation of social processes: Social processes like opinion polarisation occur due to complex patterns of interaction within social groups. By applying  agent-based methods, such processes can be simulated in order to understand the influence of individual factors or to test rival theories.

Klein, Dominik, Marx, Johannes (2016): The Dynamics of Trust - Emergence and Destruction.
In:, Workshop Proceedings of the 17th International workshop on Trust in Agent Societies (2014), Vol. 1720, 68-77.

A third focus is placed on the analysis of complex systems. Against the background of a deeper understanding of the complex interaction between society and technology, there is a need for theories which can address such dynamics. This focus area looks specifically at theories and specific examples that provide students with a deeper understanding of the function of complex technological and social systems.

Gerrits, L. (2012). Punching Clouds: an introduction to the complexity of public decision-making. Litchfield Park, AZ: Emergent Publications

Gerrits, L. & Verweij, S. (2013). Critical realism as a meta-framework for understanding the relationships between complexity and qualitative comparative analysis. Journal of Critical Realism, 12(2), 166-182.

Gerrits, L. & Marks, P. (2015). The evolution of Wright’s (1932) adaptive field to contemporary interpretations and uses of fitness landscapes in the social sciences. Biology & Philosophy (2015) 30:459–479

Beck, Roman; Rai, Arun; Fischbach, Kai; Keil, Mark (forthcoming): Untangling Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Integration in Enterprise Wikis. In: Journal of Business Economics (formerly: Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft).

Putzke, Johannes; Fischbach, Kai; Schoder, Detlef; Gloor, Peter A. (2014): Cross-cultural Gender Differences in the Adoption and Usage of Social Media Platforms – An Exploratory Study of Last.FM. In: Computer Networks 75 (Part B): 519-530

Gloor, Peter A.; Oster, Daniel; Fischbach, Kai (2013): JazzFlow. Analyzing "Group Flow" Among Jazz Musicians Through "Honest Signals". In: KI - Künstliche Intelligenz 27(1): 37-43