Enriching Social Science Teaching with Empirical Data (ESSTED)

Project Details


ESSTED aims to help students develop and practice their quantitative skills and learn to evaluate and use quantitative evidence.

The project involves an interdisciplinary team working to integrate more quantitative data and methods within the social science undergraduate curriculum at the University.

The project focuses on embedding relevant quantitative data and methods within substantively focused course units in Politics and Sociology.

About the project

Enriching Social Science Teaching with Empirical Data (ESSTED)is an interdisciplinary team working to include more quantitative data and methods within the undergraduate curriculum in the School of Social Sciences.

A key aim is to embed quantitative data within topic based modules. This approach allows students to encounter, interpret and reflect on quantitative data within a subject-specific setting. In turn, these experiences can help students to engage with theory, learn about the research process and develop quantitative skills that are useful for more advanced methods courses and the workplace.

Additionally, to share our experience of curriculum innovation we developed the following.
• Case studies of teaching at The University of Manchester
• Workshops exploring how data can be used to enhance teaching and assessment.
• Resources such as teaching materials and briefing papers

ESRC Quantitative Methods Initiative

Funded by the ESRC Curriculum Innovation Initiative and ESRC Researcher Development Initiative, ESSTED forms part of a national initiative encouraging innovation and capacity building in the teaching of quantitative methods at undergraduate level. This in turn forms part of ESRCs wider strategy to address the dearth of quantitative skills in the UK Social Sciences.


• Power and Protest: Are the young politically disengaged?

About the course
Power and Protest was a Year 3 course unit with around 60 students.

In collaboration with the unit convenor Dr Gemma Edwards, Enriching Social Science Teaching with Empirical Data (ESSTED) developed a workshop on youth and political engagement, which took place during a week of the course.

The lecture discussed contemporary debates about political participation with reference to three key theories of why some people do not participate.

• Apathy and Habermas’s ‘indifferents’;
• the Resource Model of political participation;
• Putnam’s theory of declining participation.
The lecture also emphasised concerns about apathy and disengagement among the young.

Examining the evidence base

The workshop aim was to get students to interpret the empirical evidence within the theoretical framework of the lecture.

Students were provided with an ‘evidence base’, consisting of data from British Social Attitudes (BSA) and the Hansard Society’s Audit of Political Engagement.

The data included:
• measures of political participation and political attitudes such as voting, e-petitions and political efficacy;
• differences over time and across age groups.
In small groups, students discussed questions that encouraged them to interpret the data in light of the theories in preparation for a class discussion.

Insight into quantitative research

The workshop provides students with insight into how we can research political participation and attitudes. The trends contained within the data encourage critical reflection on the meaning and measurement of concepts such as political participation, disengagement and apathy. For instance, young people might be less likely to vote but in relation to signing petitions or joining demonstrations the data indicates a different story.

There is also the opportunity to consider questions relating to data quality such as the potential for measurement error relating to recall and social desirability and the problem of small sample sizes when analysing population sub-groups.

Independent use of empirical evidence

The workshop introduces students to sources of empirical evidence that they can use in their coursework and dissertations, providing valuable practice and development of skills in the presentation and interpretation of statistical outputs. Moreover, a further element was added to the workshop where students were given the task of sourcing evidence using an online interface for accessing data from the British Social Attitudes survey. This independent activity was supported by a guide made available through blackboard.

Qualitative feedback from students who took part in the class highlighted a number of positive outcomes. Some clearly found the use of data helpful in bringing the theories alive and making them seem less abstract. Others commented on the value of practicing and developing quantitative skills that would be valued by employers.

However, some other students found interpreting the data difficult and overwhelming. This highlights the value of running this as a group activity, where students can help each other in the task, as well as receiving support from the workshop leader. However, focusing on a reduced selection of key tables would simplify the exercise.

• Introduction to Comparative Politics

Introduction to Comparative Politics is a Year 1 course unit in Politics at The University of Manchester that is currently taken by around 200 students each semester. For this course unit we developed materials based around attitudes towards immigration.

Making students ‘part of the dataset’

The materials were based around a survey of student attitudes of immigration. The students were surveyed using questions from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey. Then, using data from the 2011 BSA survey, student results were presented alongside results for the British public and graduates.

This simple exercise allowed students to become ‘part of the dataset’ and, in this case, showed the students had more positive attitudes towards immigration than the British public.

The survey instrument, exercise of data collection and the resulting dataset provides the basis for an interesting and engaging lecture and tutorial with a number of pedagogical benefits.

Engage and surprise students

The process of comparing groups helps students appreciate social differences. In turn, students can be encouraged to realise the problems of generalising from their own experiences and to think about the kinds of social processes producing such differences.

From our experience, students showed high levels of engagement in the data that related to them and how compared to the whole population. As Rob Ford describes, the exercise “provided a very interesting teaching experience because [the students] were very surprised to discover just how far away they were from the average person out there in society at large”

Introducing quantitative data and methods

The exercise introduces students to quantitative data in a naturalistic and non-threatening way.

Starting with answering the survey questions themselves, they see how data is generated. Underpinned with this understanding of the data, the exercise supports conversation about the limitations of data and the processes through which it is generated. For instance, since students have answered the survey questions themselves, we get consider how reliable the survey questions measure attitudes by inputting their own experience. Additionally, the responses rate for the class supports discussion of the whether the BSA data are representative of UK population.

Learning and applying core quantitative skills
The exercise supports the learning of core quantitative skills such as how to read graphs and tables and use percentages and proportions to compare groups.

As many students may lack relevant knowledge and confidence, revising and developing these core skills early in a degree can help students to better engage with quantitative evidence as it appears through their degree and beyond.

Meaningful differences between groups

In addition to practicing core skills, the exercise offers scope to introduce more complex issues in quantitative research. Increasing the statistical content without leading students to disengage is tricky.

However, whilst keeping the focus on the substantive questions, the exercise can include conceptual discussions of the idea of estimation, precision and chance, which in turn, could be supported by using confidence intervals for some of the national estimates.

• Sociology of Personal Life

About the course
Sociology of Personal Life is a Year 1 course unit in Sociology at The University of Manchester with approximately 400 students.

In collaboration with the course unit convenor, Prof Sue Heath, Enriching Social Science Teaching with Empirical Data (ESSTED) developed a tutorial about living alone or single living.

Using data from the UK social survey Understanding Society, we compiled a series of tables giving insight into the characteristics of those living alone compared to those living in other household arrangements.

The empirical evidence, along with the theoretical background provided by the lecture and tutorial reading, supported discussion of stigma, stereotypes and social norms and how they connect with gender and life stage.

Additionally, students were encouraged to question the relationship between theory and empirical evidence and how we can investigate the social world.

An introduction to quantitative research

The tutorial introduced first year students to quantitative data as an integral part of sociological study. With the example of Understanding Society, students learn about survey research and how survey data is available to researchers through the UK Data Service.

Developing quantitative skills
Students learn and apply core quantitative concepts and skills that used to read the story of a table or graph, including:

How to decipher a table using the table title, the row and column headings and any footnotes
• Terminology such as sample size, frequencies and variables
• The use of ratios and percentages to compare groups
• How to examine the table cells, especially the difference between row and column percentages
• Students could be shown how to calculate ratios as a tool for making comparisons.

Learning and applying these quantitative skills provides students with a base in which to engage with the quantitative evidence they come across during their degree programme and sets the foundations for learning more complex quantitative skills in methods courses.

Critical skills
The tutorial supported critical reflection of observed patterns and how to relate empirical data to theoretical ideas. For example, the data shows that those living alone show averagely lower life satisfaction.

Students were asked to reflect on this pattern and develop theoretical explanations, considering both direct and indirect reasons.

These types of critical reflection help introduce first year students to analytical concepts such as the difference between association and causality with reference to real data and a substantive theme.

Students were asked to critically reflect on the measurement and categorisation of living arrangements, socio-economic classifications and concepts such as life satisfaction.

There is opportunity to introduce the concept of statistical significance with a focus on conceptual understanding and interpretative skills, rather than technical or statistical skills.

For example, the data shows there is a small but statistically significant association between ‘living alone’ and ‘frequency of talking with neighbours’. However, we can question the substantive significance of such a relationship.

• The differences are only small
• What does the variable ‘frequency of talking with neighbours’ measure? Would an alternative variable offer more meaningful results?
• Might it be more insightful to examine differences by age or gender?

• Politics of policy making

Politics of Policymaking is a Year 2 course unit in Politics at The University of Manchester. For this course unit, Enriching Social Science Teaching with Empirical Data (ESSTED) collaborated with Prof Francesca Gains, the unit convenor, to develop a linked lecture and tutorial on the theme of agenda setting.

Theories of agenda setting
The lecture and tutorial focus on theories that seek to explain how issues get government attention and reach institutional agendas for action, with discussion of:

• the link between public opinion and government action;
• the opening of ‘windows of opportunity’ for policy proposals to get attention (John Kingdon, 1995);
• and the expectation that Government policy agendas change when there is a punctuated equilibrium (Baumgartner and Jones, 2009).

UK Policy Agendas Project
Adding to the discussion of theory, both the lecture and tutorial consider how theories of agenda setting might be tested with reference to the UK Policy Agendas Project.

First, the lecture highlights an example in work by Claire Annesley and Francesca Gains on gender equality issues in the UK (Annesley and Gains, 2010; 2013).

Then, the tutorial gets students discussing theory in relation to evidence. Students are provides with a graph, showing public concern for the environment and environmental policy mentions in the ‘UK Speech from the Throne’ between 1960 and 2010.

Students prepare for the tutorial by spending time reflecting on both the graph and key reading, Downs (1972), noting their ideas within a learning log. In the tutorial, students work together to interpret the data and evaluate how it relates to theories of democratic responsiveness.

Using evidence to evaluate theory
The lecture and tutorial give students insight into how empirical evidence can be used to evaluate theories. The lecture provides the theoretical foundations and an example whilst the tutorial gives students the opportunity for practical experience within a supportive environment. In turn, the practical exercise can support student discussion of complex theories.

Insight into quantitative research
The lecture and tutorial can introduce students to new forms of empirical evidence that they can draw upon in their coursework and dissertations. Students may be unaware that “The Speech from the Throne”, “Acts of UK Parliament” and “Prime Minister’s Questions 1997-2008” can be sources of quantitative data.

To give further insight into this interesting source of data, the tutorial could also include practical activities based around applying the policy content coding scheme used.

Developing quantitative skills

The clear focus in the lecture on the tutorial is on theme of agenda setting and how it might be researched, rather than on developing specific quantitative skills. However, the lecture and tutorial give students an opportunity to practise the interpretation of quantitative data and see examples of how to present statistical outputs. Specifically, the materials used offer an example of graphs showing change over time for two variables.

• Introduction to Research Skills in Politics

Research and Study Skills is a compulsory Year 1 course unit in Politics at The University of Manchester with about 70 students.

The aim of the unit is to assist students with the transition to university-level study and research by developing crucial study and learning skills.

Each year, students devise a group research project in relation to a specified theme, which, in the year we developed the materials, was ‘Public attitudes to income inequality and policies to tackle inequality’. Students are then assessed through a group report and individual essay discussing the research and its implications.

Working with the course unit convenor, Dr Liz Richardson, we worked on materials to introduce students to quantitative data and research methods. To feed into the assessment, the learning outcomes and activities were tailored to support students find, analyse and interpret relevant survey data on public attitudes.

A survey to make students part of the dataset
To get students thinking about how we can measure public attitudes, we started with a simple survey, which we ran through Blackboard. Using questions from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, our aims were to help students understand how data can be generated by creating data directly relevant to them.

Combining the student data with data from the BSA for the British public makes students ‘part of the dataset’ and provides interesting material for use in a both a lecture and practical workshop.

The lecture introduces the social survey as an important source of data and discusses key ideas in survey research such as sampling and question design. To support the discussion, the lecture uses both the student and BSA data.

First, students see some results from the student survey, plus details of the response rate, and then how the class data compares to data for the British public. This exercise can highlight how, in terms of social attitudes, the class is unrepresentative of the wider British public. This insight supports learning about sampling and representative samples. Moreover, the data prompts students to consider the reasons for attitudinal differences within a society.

Further data from the BSA is then used also highlight how we use survey data to compare population sub-groups and to examine trends over time.

The practical workshop
The practical workshop builds on the lecture but the focus is on getting students to source and interpret data from a national social survey.

In the workshop, students use an online tool for exploring data from the BSA, the British Social Attitudes Information System, to complete two core tasks.

• The first task is finish comparing the class and the wider British public, by sourcing the remaining national level data. This task gets students familiar with navigating the website and reading data.
• Student then examine how attitudes to inequality in Britain vary across social groups. Using a simple interface, they can crosstab the attitudinal variables with a predefined choice of demographic variables. Students choose which variables and indicate the pattern they expect to find.
Discussions in the practical workshop help students develop research questions for their project work. Plus, a final part of the workshop, usually completed in personal study time, is for the students to continue to search the BSA archive data for relevant to their group research project.

Formal link to assessment
The course unit includes a formal link between the workshop and assessment with students needing to include data on public attitudes within their group report. There was excellent attendance at the workshop and most students successfully included data in their assessed projects. Some projects effectively used statistical data to underpin and strengthen the qualitative research, with these students going on to receive some of the highest grades.

A change of topic
The structure of this course unit means the topic changes each year. Usefully, the BSA provides data on public attitudes for a wide range of key social issues and therefore the workshop can be easily adapted for other topics.
We have also made use of another, related, online interface when the course theme was Civic Participation. The organisation of the survey, lecture and workshop remained the same except we used a similar interface for the British Election Studies.

• Sociology dissertation

About 65 sociology students do a dissertation in Year 3. We worked with Dr Gemma Edwards, the convenor of the Sociology Dissertation, to encourage and support students to use quantitative data in their dissertations.

Few students using quantitative data in their dissertations
The collaboration started with the recognition that very few students use quantitative data in their dissertations. Auditing dissertations by students in both Sociology and Politics confirmed this view; for example, out of the dissertations submitted in the 2011–2012 academic year, only 8 included statistical output and 1 used mainly quantitative methods.

Sociology dissertations take a variety of formats with some students working on theoretical projects; however, most students aim to relate sociological theories to empirical evidence. Thus, more students could be making use of quantitative data in their dissertations.

The benefits of using quantitative data for students
As sole researchers with a time constraint, it is difficult for dissertation students to generate a good evidence base. Thus, secondary data analysis can help students develop rewarding research projects and demonstrate critical engagement with theory.

As convenor of the Sociology Dissertation, Gemma Edwards also finds that data from the large social surveys such as British Social Attitudes (BAS) is often ideal for the research questions that interest students. For example, students are commonly interested in questions about how attitudes and practices change over time, questions students can struggle to address if they collect their own data.

Building awareness and confidence
Sociology students at The University of Manchester receive training in quantitative methods during their second year; thus, the solution was not necessarily more quantitative methods training. Instead, our approach concentrated on getting students to make use of their quantitative skills by increasing awareness of the quantitative data available and helping to build their confidence.

Support came through lectures, workshops and guides examining sources of data and how it might be used. We also offered drop-in sessions to support students individually, which were staffed by postgraduate students.

Advice in the early planning stages
A key element to the approach was to offer advice and support in the early stages.

As students developed their research proposals, workshops and lectures covered ‘Quantitative Data Sources’ and ‘How to design (and carry out) a quantitative analysis for a dissertation’. The drop-in sessions also provided advice about formulating research questions and the relevant datasets.

Ways of using quantitative data
Another element of the project was emphasising the different ways of bringing quantitative data into dissertations.

In addition to discussing research questions that might suit a ‘quantitative’ approach, we highlighted how quantitative data can help justify and frame research questions and proposals.

For example, student interested in examining young peoples attitudes towards gender roles through in-depth interviews, might be encouraged to frame their work with reference to attitudes among the British population. In this case, they might be directed to the British Social Attitudes reports published by NatCen.

Encouraging students to make use of published statistics and reports can help students develop stronger research proposals and demonstrate engagement with range of empirical evidence available to sociologists.

Online tools

We also supported students by highlighting tools for accessing quantitative data online, without needing specialist statistics software.

For example, the British Social Attitudes Information System is an online interface for accessing British Social Attitudes (BSA) data (especially useful for developing time-series).

We also highlighted tools for accessing:

• Europe wide surveys
• the 2011 Census
• Neighbourhood Statistics
• International data from sources such as the World Bank.

An audit of dissertations submitted following the collaboration found students had used more quantitative data, with 15 opting for secondary quantitative analysis.

• Politics project

Politics project offers second year politics students the opportunity to:

• investigate a topic that interests them;
• develop intellectual independence in preparation for their final year dissertation.

ESSTED worked with the convenor of this course unit to develop the quantitative element within the taught part of the course. The basis of this collaboration was a small student led survey designed to introduce students to survey research and quantitative methods.

Student led survey
The taught element of the course unit gets students to propose and conduct a survey examining a topic of their choice.

Choosing attitudes towards immigration, the students worked as a class to write the questionnaire and recruit respondents using social media and e-mail. We then analysed the data to produce outputs for class discussion.

Investigating question wording and framing
The success of the collaboration came from the decision by student to incorporate survey experiments.

Respondents were randomly assigned to versions of the questionnaire with some variations in the wording of questionnaire items. For example, in one version an item refers to immigrants from Poland and in the other immigrants from Pakistan.

The questionnaires were put online and we gave students a link to one version at random to recruit participants.

Results support substantive and methodological discussion

The survey results formed the basis of an interesting session on interpreting data. For example, the results show that perceptions of asylum seekers vary depending on whether the question was framed with contextual details about the widely discussed asylum seeker Malala, from Pakistan.

The student led element and thought-provoking results incentive students to engage with the data, offering substantial content for class discussion around:

• substantive topics such as attitudes towards immigration, public opinion and political debate;
• methodological issues linked to the measuring attitudes and survey research.

• Urban Sociology

Urban Sociology is a Year 3 course unit at The University of Manchester, currently taken by around 40 students.

For this course unit, we collaborated with Vanessa May, the unit convenor, to develop resources to enhance lectures and support students to use quantitative data independently in project work.

Urban Sociology introduces students to sociological accounts of urbanisation and the development of cities. The course unit takes a global perspective; however, Vanessa May also tries to engage students with a more local focus on Manchester, the first industrial city.

A global and historical picture

Starting with global and historical perspectives, we identified materials to use in lectures. In particular, Vanessa was keen to use interactive online tools. For example:

differences between countries were highlighted using World mapper, a website showing world maps with territories sized according to the subject of interest such as city living;
for a historical perspective of urbanisation in Britain, we used A Vision of Britain through Time, which shows change over time using historical surveys and maps such as the rise of the service industry or decline of mining.
The websites help give the lectures a more interactive element that help students engage with the course material. They also provide valuable resources for students to explore in their own time.

Using the local to bring theory alive
Assessment for the course includes a mini research project on an area of Manchester. Students choose the area and focus of the project. The task is to link empirical evidence to course themes.

For this element, we supported students to integrate quantitative data into their research project by highlighting resources such as Neighbourhood Statistics.

Combining a local focus with independent research gets students to really think about and engage with theories. As Vanessa May describes, the aim is that students are “not just putting stuff together from books and theories but they’re actually having to think I’ve got this piece of data, …can this be used to illustrate anything that I’ve read about or they’re reading and have to think … how would I actually show that this has happened or not happened in the area I’m studying”

Student using better data
• Highlighting sources of data gives students both experience sourcing and interpreting data.
• The quality of students work improved overall as they selected more appropriate data. For example, rather than simply using statistics from newspapers and textbooks, students access data from sources such as the Office for National Statistics.
• Many students then successfully related data to key theories and themes from the course unit.


During 2013 and 2014 ESSTED organised the following workshops exploring how to help students develop and practice their quantitative skills.

Teaching sociology with quantitative data: Building bridges
This half-day workshop was an opportunity for Sociology Lecturers to meet, share new teaching techniques, and learn how to use social data for active learning.

Led by Dr Wendy Olsen, the workshop:

• highlighted teaching materials for undergraduates;
• discussed the specific help that survey data can give for studying sociology topics;
• addressed the skills for examining student work that uses empirical data in Sociology.

Teaching politics with quantitative data
This half-day workshop explored how quantitative data can enhance the teaching of politics at undergraduate level.

The workshop highlighted how data supports active learning and helps students engage with theory whilst developing research and critical skills. The main focus is on the use of representative survey data such as British Social Attitudes (BSA) to explore attitudes and behaviour.

Activities such as ‘Making Students Part of the Dataset’ offer engaging and accessible ways to explore topics in politics, including immigration, the welfare state and political participation. The workshop also highlighted useful online resources that make it easy for students and teachers to access social data for use in teaching or assessment and includes time for sharing ideas, techniques and experiences with other politics teachers and lecturers.

Enabling students to use data in their sociology and politics dissertations and coursework
This workshop, led by Dr Mark Brown, drew on case studies at the University aimed at increasing the use of quantitative data in social science dissertations.

The workshop considered the various ways students can be supported to use data in dissertations: from sourcing simple tables and graphs to help contextualise a topic through to enabling the student to analyse a survey dataset to explore relationships and test hypotheses.


Case study 1: Power and Protest
This course introduces a range of perspectives for analysing social movements and protest. We look at competing perspectives drawn from the field of social movement studies and consider them in dialogue with case studies of actual movements. We look chronologically at key social movements, from the labour movement, to new social movements, and the anti-globalization movement, encountering debates about the relationship between labour, class, culture and protest.

We then consider arguments about the levels and forms of protest in modern societies, from those who suggest that present generations are politically disengaged and apathetic, to those who suggest that protest has merely changed form from collective to more individualised practices. We end by looking at how well the theories we have encountered can account for ugly social movements like terrorism.

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

• understand a range of theories and perspectives for analysing protest and social movements;
• critically evaluate these theories and perspectives by investigating historical and contemporary examples of protests and social movements;
• relate levels and forms of protest to theories and debates about the nature of power in modern societies;
• develop your own approach and arguments through independent research.
SOCY30461 Power and protest

Case study 2: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Introduction to Comparative Politics provides a foundation for the study of comparative politics, by

• introducing students to key concepts such as ‘power’, ‘democracy’, and ‘the nation-state’
• examining leading models of political science;
• comparing the politics of the United Kingdom and the United States of America;
• and by studying economic and political reform in contemporary China.

The course enables students to understand the features of different political systems and to ask who governs, how they govern, and what government does.

In this introductory course unit, students will:

• learn some of the basic concepts of political studies, such as political power, governance, the state, authoritarianism, democracy, and democratization;
• learn some of the basic research tools of political studies, such as conceptual analysis, comparison over time and space, causal explanation, and normative evaluation;
• develop a critical awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of theories of the state;
• analyse political institutions, procedures and behaviour in the UK and USA;
• analyse the workings of non-democratic regimes, focusing on China;
• develop the ability to communicate ideas in writing and verbally.
POLI10202 Introduction to Comparative Politics

Case study 3: Sociology of Personal Life
• To introduce students to a sociological approach to the study of personal life
• To examine how personal lives have changed over time and in relation to social changes
• To explore how wider social changes have impacted upon personal life
• To provide conceptual tools for understanding the micro level of day-to-day

On completion of the unit successful students will:
• be able to understand the relationship between personal experience and wider social phenomena;
• be able to understand how the ‘present’ is rooted in the past;
• have knowledge of the interconnections between issues of biography, sexuality, place, home, and other areas defined as ‘personal’;
• have an appreciation of why and how the individual is important to the study of sociology.
SOCY10471: Sociology of Personal Life

Case study 4: Politics of Policy Making
This course will aim to provide students with conceptual and empirical insights into the development and implementation of public policies. On completion students should possess an understanding of models of policy making and implementation and be able to apply this understanding to contemporary policy examples. Case studies will be examined and will include examples from current policy agendas.

On completion of the course unit, students should be able to

• Demonstrate a critical awareness of the role of concepts and theories applicable to the study of public policy making;
• Apply relevant concepts and theories to substantive case material drawn from the field of public policy.
• Use electronic resources to identify relevant empirical material, summarise key ideas and concepts both in writing and verbally, and work in small groups
POLI20801 Politics of Policy Making

Case study 5: Politics Research and Study Skills

This course unit aims to assist first year Politics and International Relations students with the transition to university-level study and research. It aims to help you make the leap from studying at school to independent learning at university. It will focus on research skills and research methods. These skills and methods will be continued in the 2 and 3 years (Politics Project and Dissertation). In addition, it will introduce extra-curricular opportunities and help you prepare abilities and skills suited to future jobs and careers.
The course unit aims to help you develop a sense of intellectual independence while simultaneously enhancing your capacity to work within a group setting. It will assist in acquiring and consolidating new research, study and learning skills, including original research using a variety of sources, essay and report writing, with the expected scholarly apparatus of bibliography and referencing. It offers exciting opportunities to undertake hands-on primary research, and analyse statistical data. We will work in small groups in the classroom, and out in the field. A study visit will help give a sense of the academic issues as they affect real people.

POLI10100 Study Skills (Politics)

Case Study 6: Sociology Dissertation
The Sociology Dissertation aims to:

• provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to undertake a piece of independent research;
• allow students to choose a topic of study of particular interest and to engage in an in-depth examination of the topic making use of advanced bibliographic skills and, where appropriate, to engage in original investigation, data collection and analysis;
• encourage students to explore the contribution the discipline makes to an understanding of social life and social order;
• enable students to develop their sociological skills under the guidance of the module co-ordinator and a supervisor, in particular, their skills in the selection of a researchable topic, the development of a research proposal, the conduct of research, the analysis of results, the oral presentation of their project, and the process of structuring, writing and formatting a word dissertation;
• allow students to gain expertise in the area of sociology that forms the topic of their dissertation.
SOCY30920 Sociology dissertation

Case Study 7: Politics Project
This course unit provides students with an opportunity to investigate in depth a topic that interests them and that is related to one of their second or first year POLITICS course units. The research project is intended to help students to develop intellectual independence and therefore to prepare them for their final year dissertation.

A student will study a chosen topic in depth, learn to define a researchable topic, learn to decide upon appropriate sources, deploy the scholarly apparatus of Bibliography and referencing, develop a sustained argument, critically evaluate arguments and evidence, and demonstrate analytic skills and intellectual independence.

Case Study 8: Urban Sociology

Course aims and learning outcomes

• To examine sociological accounts of urbanization and the development of cities
• To establish an understanding of the links between urbanization and other social developments in areas such as the economy, industry and politics
• To debate how urbanization has affected human forms of sociality for example interactions in public spaces
• To provide students with an understanding of theoretical developments and debates in the field of urban sociology

On completion of this unit successful students will:
• have knowledge of changing patterns of urban living
• understand different contemporary sociological approaches to explaining modern urban life
• have an appreciation of the complex impact that urbanization has had on societies and individuals
• be able to apply these theories to their own experiences of living in a city

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