BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Understanding Social Media

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOST10012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What can social media data tell us about society and human behaviour? How can such data be used for social research and for tackling intractable social issues?

This module will provide an introduction to the theory and practice of using social media data for research and enable the development of transferable research and data skills. Such skills are in demand in the research and consultancy profession across the public and private sectors. After reviewing the different data types including Facebook and Twitter we consider how to access and analyse such data. This, in part, will include developing the student’s critical data skills, hands-on training and practice analyses on real social media data such as coding Tweets and blogs. This will involve the use of on-line software to gather social media data. The module will involve the development of research design skills including: hypothesis testing, data analysis and interpretation and writing skills. The emphasis on the use of real data to answer questions is designed to engage students and for them to consider using such approaches as part of their own dissertation research.


The unit aims:

  • To develop the students understanding of social research methods using social media data such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Blogs.
  • To inform students about research design and ethical issues concerning the use of social media data in research.
  • To introduce students to the analytical skills used in collecting and analysing social media data.
  • To provide students with a basic training in the use of software for the handling and the analysis of social media data.
  • To develop students understanding and critical skills in such areas as sampling, sample bias and statistical inference in social research.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding: A critical understanding of the evidence and debates regarding the use of social media data for understanding society.

Intellectual skills: An understanding of good practices in research design, evaluating evidence and data and assessing robustness. Develop critical skills in evaluating data and methods through lectures, lab sessions, group work and independent reading.

Practical skills: An understanding of social statistics and practical experience of data analysis including using software for social research. Develop skills in evaluating evidence and scientific claims.

Transferable skills and personal qualities: Critical data analysis and evaluation skills. Social statistics and data analysis skills are in high demand in the labour market. The group work will also aid the student in developing their communication and team working skills.

Teaching and learning methods


Tutorials/Exercise Classes

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

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 90%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

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



Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Myong Sook Kim Unit coordinator

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