Using Numbers in Social Research

Module code: SY2008

This module will help you develop the skills to both use and consume numbers in social research. You'll look at the ways in which you can locate, retrieve and use large scale numeric data for your research and studies. You'll also learn to look at the ways in which you can use numbers to summarise data and how statistical techniques can help you make sense of the social world. This means considering the best and worst ways to display numeric data, and examine of the most common instruments for generating large scale data: the questionnaire.

Topics covered

  • What are numbers and why are they useful?
  • Finding and retrieving large data sets
  • The relationship between qualities and quantities
  • Different types of number of their uses
  • Looking at averages and the spread of data
  • Finding out how things are related to each other
  • Using software to do analysis
  • Using graphs, charts and tables
  • Percentages, proportions and ratios
  • Probability, chance and coincidence
  • How random sampling works and why it’s not always possible
  • Designing questionnaires and the questions within them
  • Using scales (and reasons not to use them)
  • Why comparisons matter


  • 20 hours of lectures
  • 8 hours of seminars
  • 5 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 267 hours of guided independent study


  • Report of statistical analysis, 1,500 words (70%)
  • Examination, 1 hour (30%)