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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
The Survey Method in Social Research

Unit code SOST20012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Social Statistics
Available as a free choice unit? No


The module provides an introduction to the theory and practice of quantitative survey research. After reviewing the role of surveys in social research (relating this specifically to the students own discipline areas), we consider the derivation of a survey dataset (from questionnaire to variables) and the basic statistical concepts required for working with numeric survey data. The course puts considerable emphasis on the value of secondary analysis, highlighting the exceptionally rich range of large scale social surveys available to the HE community. Using this archive of 'real world; data, students are given hands on training in the process of conducting a secondary analysis: from the development of research questions, the search and evaluation of potential datasets, the process of data registration and access, and the basic techniques of data analysis using the software SPSS (full training is provided). We conclude with questions of interpretation, covering key concepts of statistical significance and causality.


This course is only available to Sociology students.


NB - it is NOT possible for students to take both this course and SOST20022 Essentials of Survey Design & Analysis

The unit aims to:
- Introduce students to the social survey and its use in academic and policy research
- Introduce students to survey data, with consideration of the process by which variables in a dataset are derived from a survey questionnaire.
- Introduce students to the concept of sampling as used in survey research and explain how the design of a sample determines whether the survey can be used to make generalizations about the population from which the sample is drawn.
- Impart knowledge about a range of secondary sources of survey data and the way they can be accessed and used for research
- Provide basic training in the use of SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Scientists) for the handling and analysis of survey data
- Develop the understanding and skills required to design and carry out basic secondary data analysis of a large scale dataset.
- Develop the critical skills needed to interpret and report simple analyses using survey data.
- Enable students to develop and write a dissertation research proposal based on survey analysis

Assessment methods

2 essays of 2,000 words (worth 50% each)

Feedback methods


All Social Statistics courses include both formative feedback – which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve – and summative feedback – which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mark Brown Unit coordinator

Additional notes

2015/16 timetable

Tuesday 10:00 - 12:00, plus a separate one-hour practical class (range of times available)

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