MSc Environmental Governance

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Survey Research Methods

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOST60421
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The social survey is a research tool of fundamental importance across a range of disciplines and is widely used in applied research and as evidence to inform policy making. This course considers the process of conducting a survey, with an emphasis on practical aspects of survey design and implementation, as well as factors that influence the quality of survey data. The course will also cover key statistical concepts and procedures in sample design and estimation.


  • Introduce students to the basic principles of survey design that are used in large-scale surveys;
  • Provide an introduction to key elements of conducting a survey, including sampling techniques, alternative modes of data collection, the role of the survey interviewer, questionnaire design, measurement error, and estimation in surveys;
  • Become familiar with the factors and behaviours that affect the quality of survey data

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

  • Be able to apply the key terminology used in large-scale survey design
  • Match appropriate survey modes to research questions and population under study
  • Be able to evaluate different survey methods and sampling techniques
  • Be able to identify methods for assessing the quality of survey data
  • Have a clear understanding of the steps involved in designing and planning a survey
  • Understand factors that influence data quality, including coverage, sampling, and nonresponse

Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught over 11 weeks.

Each two-hour session will typically include a combination of course materials for self-study, a lecture followed by a group activity. The course materials and lecture are providing the base for understanding the subject and broad concepts of survey design. The weekly group activity is designed to develop the students' practical experience and overcoming real life obstacles in survey design. Recommended course readings and subject videos can be studied by each student in their own time. The lecture will complement the course materials and summarise important concepts and allow for Q&A and general discourse.

Assessment methods

Group project assignment (video and presentation slides of max 5min) 20%

Written individual assignment (essay of max 2500 words) 80%

Feedback methods

  • Weekly written feedback on group work progress form and oral feedback during practical session
  •  Q&A session at the end of lectures
  • Written feedback for final essay

Recommended reading

• Groves, R.M., Fowler, F.J. Jr., Couper, M.P., Lepkowski, J.M., Singer, E., & Tourangeau, R. (2009).Survey Methodology, 2ndEdition. New York: Wiley.

• Kalton, G. (1983). An Introduction to Survey Sampling. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

• Converse, J., & Presser, S. (1986). Survey Questions: Handcrafting the Standardized Questionnaire. Newbury Park: Sage Publications

• Fowler, F., & Mangione, T. (1990). Standardized Survey Interviewing. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Practical classes & workshops 9
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tina Hannemann Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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