BA History and Sociology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Measuring Inequalities (Unequal Societies)

Unit code SOST10021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Social Statistics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module will provide an introduction to accessing and using quantitative data and evidence for social research, with a focus on health, well-being and happiness. Such skills are in demand across the public and private sector.

After reviewing different data types, we consider how to access and analyse these data. This will include developing critical data skills and will involve hands-on training and practice analyses of social data using on-line interfaces and software (such as Excel and/or SPSS).

Lecture Schedule

  1. Introduction to concepts of equality and equity and data on inequality
  2. Measuring happiness and subjective well-being
  3. Measuring poverty
  4. Measuring health
  5. The Spirit Level debate and critiques
  6. Analysing survey data
  7. Data skills practical session 1 (Lab class 1)
  8. Bivariate analysis
  9. Data skills practical session 2 (Lab class 2)
  10. Report writing skills – presenting tables, course overview, final assignment
  11. Summary lecture and revision week



The tutorials will be linked to each lecture and based around embedding practical skill learning using tasks and group work.

The tutorials provide opportunity for discussions relating to the taught material and help prepare for the summative assessments for the course. In the tutorials, students will be given the opportunity to do group work and collaborate on data-driven analysis. Feedback on learning will be given through Blackboard, through the tutorials and during tutors’ office hours.


The unit aims to:

(i). To develop the students knowledge of the evidence for understanding inequality in relation to health, well-being and happiness.

(ii). To introduce students to the key analytical skills required and provide basic training in the use of software for analysing quantitative data.

(iii). To develop students understanding of sampling, sample bias and statistical inference in social research.

(iv). To enable students to develop and write a dissertation research proposal based on such data analysis should they choose to in their subsequent years of study.

Teaching and learning methods

The course will involve: lectures, group work and lab classes. Extensive use will be made of relevant on-line resources, analysis and visualisation tools and literature resources as well as video and radio recordings.

Blackboard resources will be used to enable students to access teaching data and example pilot /test questions on health, well-being and happiness.

The lecture component will provide a theoretical and methodological framework for learning about how to understand, access and analyse quantitative data.

Practical sessions will give students hands on experience in aspects of data analysis and interpretation and in using appropriate software for data manipulation. Such skills are highly transferable. The emphasis on the use of real data to answer real questions is designed to engage students and enable students to consider using such approaches as part of their own dissertation research at a later date.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are for guidance only and may change.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Feedback methods

All Social Statistics courses include both formative feedback – which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve – and summative feedback – which gives you a mark for your assessed work.


Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) (2016) Child Poverty Facts and Figures

Dorling, D. (2013) Unequal Health. Policy Press.

Goldacre, B. (2009) Bad Stats - Chapter 14 in Bad Science. London, Harper Perennial

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2016) Poverty in the UK.

Making Sense of Statistics (2010) Sense About Science and Straight Statistics.           

Purdam, K., Garratt, E. and Esmail, A. (2015) Hungry in the UK? Hungry? Food Insecurity, Social Stigma and Embarrassment in the UK. Sociology. (On-line first 0038038515594092 August 11, 2015).

Shaw, M., Mitchell, R. and Dorling D. (2002). Health, Place and Society. London, Prentice Hall.

Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009) The Spirit Level. Penguin

World Happiness Report

Inequality Index

Social Mobility Reports UK     

Sutton Trust UK

ONS Well Being UK

On-line Resources

The Joy of Stats by Hans Rosling

More or Less Radio 4. Spirit Level

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jacqueline Carter Unit coordinator

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