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Manchester hosts social science training centre for students

04 Oct 2013

The University of Manchester has been chosen to host one of 15 Q-Step centres to train social science students in techniques which help them understand, analyse and criticise data.

Jackie Carter and Mark Brown
Jackie Carter and Mark Brown

Developed as a response to the shortage of quantitatively-skilled social science graduates, it will help employers to  recruit people with the right skills needed to work critically with data.

The Manchester Q-step Centre will promote the development of these skills through an integrated set of new courses and work placement opportunities, providing Manchester students with a boost in a highly competitive graduate jobs market.

The shortfall currently means employers across all sectors struggle to recruit people with the skills needed to critically evaluate and use quantitative evidence.

Q-Step is a £19.5 million programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training.

Over a five-year period from 2013, fifteen universities across the UK are delivering specialist undergraduate programmes, including new courses, work placements and pathways to postgraduate study.

Expertise and resources will be shared across the higher education sector through an accompanying support programme, which will also forge links with schools and employers.

It is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). For more information go to

The University of Manchester’s Q-step centre, to be co-directed by Dr Mark Brown and Dr Jackie Carter from Social Statistics, pulls together a diverse team, involving colleagues from Sociology, Politics, Social Anthropology, Philosophy, Criminology and Linguistics.

New appointments will be made to further build capacity in these areas.

The centre will help Manchester in further producing quantitatively trained students for the labour market and as future researchers.

New modules will be introduced across all three years of undergraduate study, as well as embedding quantitative data and method into existing modules.

A brand new advanced specialist pathway will be introduced giving Manchester the opportunity to be unique in the delivery of well-trained social science graduates.

The Manchester centre will also introduce paid student intern opportunities, enabling students to develop real-world skills in the university, with employers, and with international organisations.

Interim Head of the School of Social Sciences, Professor Chris Orme said: “The growth of, sometimes complex and large, data sets which record ever growing aspects of human economic and social behaviour has precipitated the development of powerful computational models. This provides a way to analyse such data to offer not only insight but also a robust evidence base for policy makers on a wide range of issues. Quantitative Social Science teaching develops the skills necessary to make best use of these data and the methods that can be employed to address important social questions.”

He added: “The School of Social Sciences is delighted to host the Q-Step centre, which gives us the opportunity to realise our strategy of bringing the success of our postgraduate training in quantitative social science to a new, and much larger, undergraduate population across all three years of their study at Manchester. It’s a huge boost for our students and will give them sought after skills to make them highly attractive to their future employers .Our recently introduced interdisciplinary BA degree in Social Science, fed by new modules in Social Statistics, will embed quantitative methods into a substantive social science curriculum and supported by internships, bursaries and a network of outreach activities. It marks the beginning of a truly exciting period for Social Sciences in the UK.”

Notes for editors

For enquiries to the University of Manchester contact Dr Jackie Carter: tel: +44 (0)161 2756725 or or Dr Mark Brown; tel: +44 (0)161 4780 or

For University of Manchester media enquiries contact Mike Addelman, Press Officer, Faculty of Humanities, The University of Manchester, 0161 275 0790,
To find out more about the Q-step Programme visit