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Social Sciences Research Methods Programme course timetable

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Wed 26 Feb – Mon 27 Apr

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Thursday 27 February

16:00
Ethnographic Methods (4 of 4) In progress 16:00 - 17:30 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 7

This module is an introduction to ethnographic fieldwork and analysis and is intended for students in fields other than anthropology. It provides an introduction to contemporary debates in ethnography, and an outline of how selected methods may be used in ethnographic study.

The ethnographic method was originally developed in the field of social anthropology, but has grown in popularity across several disciplines, including sociology, geography, criminology, education and organization studies.

Ethnographic research is a largely qualitative method, based upon participant observation among small samples of people for extended periods. A community of research participants might be defined on the basis of ethnicity, geography, language, social class, or on the basis of membership of a group or organization. An ethnographer aims to engage closely with the culture and experiences of their research participants, to produce a holistic analysis of their fieldsite.


Session 1: The Ethnographic Method
What is ethnography? Can ethnographic research and writing be objective? How does one conduct ethnographic research responsibly and ethically?

Session 2: Photography and Audio Recording in Ethnographic Work
What kinds of audiovisual equipment, and practices of photography and sound recording, can be used to support an ethnographer’s research process? What kinds of the epistemological, theoretical, social, and ethical considerations tend to arise around possible use of these technologies in anthropological fieldwork and analysis?

Session 3: Relationships in the Field
Ethnographic methodology and participant observation often involve researchers’ positioning in existing networks of social relations. This session is meant to help attendees manage interpersonal relationships with research participants from academic, political, and ethical perspectives. We will discuss when and why relationships in ethnographic fieldwork can be a reason for concern. We will reflect on the social distinctions that emerge when doing fieldwork with other people and their effects on researchers’ decision-making process. Finally, we will think through different fieldwork strategies when working with others, and how they impact the production of ethnographic knowledge.

Session 4: Defining the Fieldsite
This session is meant to equip attendees with the practical skill of how to determine, or work with, the limits of the fieldsite. Drawing on reflections on the challenges of working across sprawling geographical fields, as well as more enclosed geographical sites, we will discuss strategies for either strategically bounding the seemingly infinite fieldsite, or letting the boundaries of an already limited one work for you. We will also discuss how this methodological decision might impact the theoretical insights that emerge from a period of fieldwork, as well as how it impacts the interview process, methods of participant observation, and strategies for developing relationships with gatekeepers and interlocutors

PLEASE NOTE: Update on additional teaching - we have now scheduled the two additional sessions on 18 and 25 February. Further information on their content will follow.

Monday 2 March

09:00
Event History Analysis new (1 of 2) [Places] 09:00 - 13:00 17 Mill Lane, Seminar Room B

This course offers an introduction to event history analysis, which is a tool used for analyzing the occurrence and timing of events. Typical examples are life course transitions such as the transition to parenthood and partnership formation processes, labour market processes such as job promotions, mortality, and transitions to and from sickness and disability. The researcher may be interested in examining how the rate of a particular event varies over time or with individual characteristics, social conditions, or other factors. Event History Analysis lets the researcher handle censoring and truncation, include time-varying independent variables, account for unobserved heterogeneity (frailty), and so on. The course will rely on Stata as the main computing tool, but users of other statistical software could still benefit from the course. The course is taught through both lectures and lab sessions.

11:00
Factor Analysis (1 of 4) [Full] 11:00 - 13:00 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 6

This module introduces the statistical techniques of Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) is used to uncover the latent structure (dimensions) of a set of variables. It reduces the attribute space from a larger number of variables to a smaller number of factors. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) examines whether collected data correspond to a model of what the data are meant to measure. STATA will be introduced as a powerful tool to conduct confirmatory factor analysis. A brief introduction will be given to confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.

  • Session 1: Exploratory Factor Analysis Introduction
  • Session 2: Factor Analysis Applications
  • Session 3: CFA and Path Analysis with STATA
  • Session 4: Introduction to SEM and programming
14:00
Public Policy Analysis (2 of 3) In progress 14:00 - 16:00 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 3

The analysis of policy depends on many disciplines and techniques and so is difficult for many researchers to access. This module provides a mixed perspective on policy analysis, taking both an academic and a practitioner perspective. This is because the same tools and techniques can be used in academic research on policy options and change as those used in practice in a policy environment. This course is provided as three 2 hour sessions delivered as a mix of lectures and seminars. No direct analysis work will be done in the sessions themselves, but some sample data and questions will be provided for students who wish to take the material into practice.

Event History Analysis new (2 of 2) [Places] 14:00 - 18:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 2, New Museums Site

This course offers an introduction to event history analysis, which is a tool used for analyzing the occurrence and timing of events. Typical examples are life course transitions such as the transition to parenthood and partnership formation processes, labour market processes such as job promotions, mortality, and transitions to and from sickness and disability. The researcher may be interested in examining how the rate of a particular event varies over time or with individual characteristics, social conditions, or other factors. Event History Analysis lets the researcher handle censoring and truncation, include time-varying independent variables, account for unobserved heterogeneity (frailty), and so on. The course will rely on Stata as the main computing tool, but users of other statistical software could still benefit from the course. The course is taught through both lectures and lab sessions.

Factor Analysis (2 of 4) [Full] 14:00 - 16:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 1, New Museums Site

This module introduces the statistical techniques of Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) is used to uncover the latent structure (dimensions) of a set of variables. It reduces the attribute space from a larger number of variables to a smaller number of factors. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) examines whether collected data correspond to a model of what the data are meant to measure. STATA will be introduced as a powerful tool to conduct confirmatory factor analysis. A brief introduction will be given to confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.

  • Session 1: Exploratory Factor Analysis Introduction
  • Session 2: Factor Analysis Applications
  • Session 3: CFA and Path Analysis with STATA
  • Session 4: Introduction to SEM and programming

Tuesday 3 March

14:00
Survey Research and Design (3 of 3) In progress 14:00 - 17:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 2, New Museums Site

The module aims to provide students with an introduction to and overview of survey methods and its uses and limitations. It will introduce students both to some of the main theoretical issues involved in survey research (such as survey sampling, non-response and question wording) and to practicalities of the design and analysis of surveys. The module consists of three three-hour sessions, split between lectures and practical exercises.

At the start of the module, the theoretical aspects of designing surveys will feature more, and topics covered include: the background to and history of survey research (with examples mostly drawn from political polling); an overview of the issues involved in analysing data from surveys conducted by others and some practical advice on how to evaluate such data; issues of sampling, non-response and different ways of doing surveys; issues related to questionnaire design (question wording, answer options, etc.) and ethical considerations. These lectures are relevant for all students taking the module, irrespective of whether they will conduct surveys themselves or are 'passive' users of survey results.

As the module progresses the practical aspects of designing surveys will feature more, particularly issues directly related to questionnaires (and less on issues of sampling), such as the wording of questions, the order of questions, and the use of different answer options. Most of the exercises will be provided by the instructors, but there will also be opportunities for students to bring in examples of surveys they would like to develop for their own research (and participants in the sessions may be asked to answer each other's surveys as a pilot test). We encourage all students registered for the module to attend the more practical sessions, but it will be of most direct relevance to those who are using, or plan to use, surveys in their research.

Wednesday 4 March

12:00
A Critical Analysis of Null Hypothesis Testing and its Alternatives (Including Bayesian Analysis) (1 of 2) [Full] 12:00 - 17:00 Department of Psychology, Psychology Lecture Theatre

This course will provide a detailed critique of the methods and philosophy of the Null Hypothesis Significance Testing (NHST) approach to statistics which is currently dominant in social and biomedical science. We will briefly contrast NHST with alternatives, especially with Bayesian methods. We will use some computer code (Matlab and R) to demonstrate some issues. However, we will focus on the big picture rather on the implementation of specific procedures.

14:00
Causal Inference in the Social Sciences [Standby] 14:00 - 16:00 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 6

The challenge of causal inference is ubiquitous in social science. Nearly every research project fundamentally is about causes and effects.

This introductory session will:

  • 1. Introduce three main approaches to elucidate causal relationship: structural equation models, causal directed acyclic graphs, and the counterfactual/potential outcome framework;
  • 2. Explain the common challenges in empirical research;
  • 3. Talk through some principles and intuition of several research designs that can help researchers make stronger claims for causality.

The emphasis is on setting out applications of each approach, along with pros and cons, so that participants understand when a particular design may be more or less suitable to a research problem.

Monday 9 March

09:00
Meta Analysis (1 of 2) [Full] 09:00 - 13:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 2, New Museums Site

In this module students will be introduced to meta-analysis, a powerful statistical technique allowing researchers to synthesize the available evidence for a given research question using standardized (comparable) effect sizes across studies. The sessions teach students how to compute treatment effects, how to compute effect sizes based on correlational studies, how to address questions such as what is the association of bullying victimization with depression? The module will be useful for students who seek to draw statistical conclusions in a standardized manner from literature reviews they are conducting.

11:00
Factor Analysis (3 of 4) [Full] 11:00 - 13:00 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 4

This module introduces the statistical techniques of Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) is used to uncover the latent structure (dimensions) of a set of variables. It reduces the attribute space from a larger number of variables to a smaller number of factors. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) examines whether collected data correspond to a model of what the data are meant to measure. STATA will be introduced as a powerful tool to conduct confirmatory factor analysis. A brief introduction will be given to confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.

  • Session 1: Exploratory Factor Analysis Introduction
  • Session 2: Factor Analysis Applications
  • Session 3: CFA and Path Analysis with STATA
  • Session 4: Introduction to SEM and programming
14:00
Public Policy Analysis (3 of 3) In progress 14:00 - 16:00 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 3

The analysis of policy depends on many disciplines and techniques and so is difficult for many researchers to access. This module provides a mixed perspective on policy analysis, taking both an academic and a practitioner perspective. This is because the same tools and techniques can be used in academic research on policy options and change as those used in practice in a policy environment. This course is provided as three 2 hour sessions delivered as a mix of lectures and seminars. No direct analysis work will be done in the sessions themselves, but some sample data and questions will be provided for students who wish to take the material into practice.

Meta Analysis (2 of 2) [Full] 14:00 - 18:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 2, New Museums Site

In this module students will be introduced to meta-analysis, a powerful statistical technique allowing researchers to synthesize the available evidence for a given research question using standardized (comparable) effect sizes across studies. The sessions teach students how to compute treatment effects, how to compute effect sizes based on correlational studies, how to address questions such as what is the association of bullying victimization with depression? The module will be useful for students who seek to draw statistical conclusions in a standardized manner from literature reviews they are conducting.

Factor Analysis (4 of 4) [Full] 14:00 - 16:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 1, New Museums Site

This module introduces the statistical techniques of Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) is used to uncover the latent structure (dimensions) of a set of variables. It reduces the attribute space from a larger number of variables to a smaller number of factors. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) examines whether collected data correspond to a model of what the data are meant to measure. STATA will be introduced as a powerful tool to conduct confirmatory factor analysis. A brief introduction will be given to confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.

  • Session 1: Exploratory Factor Analysis Introduction
  • Session 2: Factor Analysis Applications
  • Session 3: CFA and Path Analysis with STATA
  • Session 4: Introduction to SEM and programming

Tuesday 10 March

14:00
Secondary Data Analysis [Full] 14:00 - 18:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 1, New Museums Site

Using secondary data (that is, data collected by someone else, usually a government agency or large research organisation) has a number of advantages in social science research: sample sizes are usually larger than can be achieved by primary data collection, samples are more nearly representative of the populations they are drawn from, and using secondary data for a research project often represents significant savings in time and money. This short course, taught by Dr Deborah Wiltshire of the UK Data Archive, will discuss the advantages and limitations of using secondary data for research in the social sciences, and will introduce students to the wide range of available secondary data sources. The course is based in a computer lab; students will learn how to search online for suitable secondary data by browsing the database of the UK Data Archive.

Wednesday 11 March

09:30
Multilevel Modelling (1 of 2) [Full] 09:30 - 13:00 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 6

In this module, students will be introduced to multilevel modelling, also known as hierarchical linear modelling. MLM allows the user to analyse how outcomes are influenced by factors acting at multiple levels. So, for example, we might conceptualise children's educational process as being influenced by individual or family-level factors, as well as by factors operating at the level of the school or the neighbourhood. Similarly, outcomes for prisoners might be influenced by individual and/or family-level characteristics, as well as by the characteristics of the prison in which they are detained.

  • Introduction to Stata/MLM theory
  • Applications I - Random intercept models
  • Applications II - Random slope models
  • Applications III - Revision session/growth models
12:00
A Critical Analysis of Null Hypothesis Testing and its Alternatives (Including Bayesian Analysis) (2 of 2) [Full] 12:00 - 17:00 Department of Psychology, Psychology Lecture Theatre

This course will provide a detailed critique of the methods and philosophy of the Null Hypothesis Significance Testing (NHST) approach to statistics which is currently dominant in social and biomedical science. We will briefly contrast NHST with alternatives, especially with Bayesian methods. We will use some computer code (Matlab and R) to demonstrate some issues. However, we will focus on the big picture rather on the implementation of specific procedures.

14:00
Multilevel Modelling (2 of 2) [Full] 14:00 - 18:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 1, New Museums Site

In this module, students will be introduced to multilevel modelling, also known as hierarchical linear modelling. MLM allows the user to analyse how outcomes are influenced by factors acting at multiple levels. So, for example, we might conceptualise children's educational process as being influenced by individual or family-level factors, as well as by factors operating at the level of the school or the neighbourhood. Similarly, outcomes for prisoners might be influenced by individual and/or family-level characteristics, as well as by the characteristics of the prison in which they are detained.

  • Introduction to Stata/MLM theory
  • Applications I - Random intercept models
  • Applications II - Random slope models
  • Applications III - Revision session/growth models

Monday 16 March

10:00
Evaluation Methods (1 of 4) [Places] 10:00 - 12:45 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 6

This course aims to provide students with a range of specific technical skills that will enable them to undertake impact evaluation of policy. Too often policy is implemented but not fully evaluated. Without evaluation we cannot then tell what the short or longer term impact of a particular policy has been. On this course, students will learn the skills needed to evaluate particular policies and will have the opportunity to do some hands on data manipulation. A particular feature of this course is that it provides these skills in a real world context of policy evaluation. It also focuses primarily not on experimental evaluation (Random Control Trials) but rather quasi-experimental methodologies that can be used where an experiment is not desirable or feasible.

Topics:

  • Regression-based techniques
  • Evaluation framework and concepts
  • The limitations of regression based approaches and RCTs
  • Before/After, Difference in Difference (DID) methods
  • Computer exercise on difference in difference methods
  • Instrumental variables techniques
  • Regression discontinuity design.
13:45
Evaluation Methods (2 of 4) [Places] 13:45 - 17:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 1, New Museums Site

This course aims to provide students with a range of specific technical skills that will enable them to undertake impact evaluation of policy. Too often policy is implemented but not fully evaluated. Without evaluation we cannot then tell what the short or longer term impact of a particular policy has been. On this course, students will learn the skills needed to evaluate particular policies and will have the opportunity to do some hands on data manipulation. A particular feature of this course is that it provides these skills in a real world context of policy evaluation. It also focuses primarily not on experimental evaluation (Random Control Trials) but rather quasi-experimental methodologies that can be used where an experiment is not desirable or feasible.

Topics:

  • Regression-based techniques
  • Evaluation framework and concepts
  • The limitations of regression based approaches and RCTs
  • Before/After, Difference in Difference (DID) methods
  • Computer exercise on difference in difference methods
  • Instrumental variables techniques
  • Regression discontinuity design.

Tuesday 17 March

10:00
Evaluation Methods (3 of 4) [Places] 10:00 - 12:45 8 Mill Lane, Lecture Room 6

This course aims to provide students with a range of specific technical skills that will enable them to undertake impact evaluation of policy. Too often policy is implemented but not fully evaluated. Without evaluation we cannot then tell what the short or longer term impact of a particular policy has been. On this course, students will learn the skills needed to evaluate particular policies and will have the opportunity to do some hands on data manipulation. A particular feature of this course is that it provides these skills in a real world context of policy evaluation. It also focuses primarily not on experimental evaluation (Random Control Trials) but rather quasi-experimental methodologies that can be used where an experiment is not desirable or feasible.

Topics:

  • Regression-based techniques
  • Evaluation framework and concepts
  • The limitations of regression based approaches and RCTs
  • Before/After, Difference in Difference (DID) methods
  • Computer exercise on difference in difference methods
  • Instrumental variables techniques
  • Regression discontinuity design.
13:30
Evaluation Methods (4 of 4) [Places] 13:30 - 16:00 University Information Services, Titan Teaching Room 1, New Museums Site

This course aims to provide students with a range of specific technical skills that will enable them to undertake impact evaluation of policy. Too often policy is implemented but not fully evaluated. Without evaluation we cannot then tell what the short or longer term impact of a particular policy has been. On this course, students will learn the skills needed to evaluate particular policies and will have the opportunity to do some hands on data manipulation. A particular feature of this course is that it provides these skills in a real world context of policy evaluation. It also focuses primarily not on experimental evaluation (Random Control Trials) but rather quasi-experimental methodologies that can be used where an experiment is not desirable or feasible.

Topics:

  • Regression-based techniques
  • Evaluation framework and concepts
  • The limitations of regression based approaches and RCTs
  • Before/After, Difference in Difference (DID) methods
  • Computer exercise on difference in difference methods
  • Instrumental variables techniques
  • Regression discontinuity design.

Monday 27 April

09:00
Introduction to Python new (1 of 2) [Full] 09:00 - 13:00 Institute of Criminology, Room B11

This module introduces the use of Python, a free programming language originally developed for statistical data analysis. Students will learn:

  • Ways of reading data into Python
  • How to manipulate data in major data types
  • How to draw basic graphs and figures with Python
  • How to summarise data using descriptive statistics
  • How to perform basic inferential statistics


This module is suitable for students who have no prior experience in programming, but participants will be assumed to have a good working knowledge of basic statistical techniques.

14:00
Introduction to Python new (2 of 2) [Full] 14:00 - 18:00 Institute of Criminology, Room B11

This module introduces the use of Python, a free programming language originally developed for statistical data analysis. Students will learn:

  • Ways of reading data into Python
  • How to manipulate data in major data types
  • How to draw basic graphs and figures with Python
  • How to summarise data using descriptive statistics
  • How to perform basic inferential statistics


This module is suitable for students who have no prior experience in programming, but participants will be assumed to have a good working knowledge of basic statistical techniques.