BA Sociology and Arabic

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Survey Method in Social Research

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOST20012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of quantitative survey research. It is taught in 3 parts. In part one (weeks 1-3) we consider the characteristics of social surveys and their importance as a source evidence about society for academic research and policy debate. In part 2 (weeks 3-6) we look at the way survey data can be analysed. For this we use a range of real survey data and provide a basic training in the data analysis software SPSS. In part 3 (weeks 7-10) we move to consider different ways of using surveys in your own research with a particular focus on final year dissertations. We look at the pros and cons and steps involved in conducting your own survey versus use of existing survey datasets (secondary data analysis).


This course is taken by all students on Sociology single honours degree programme. It is also available as a free choice to other students taking Sociology pathways on joint degree programmes (including BASS).


• Explain the characteristics of survey data and the process of survey design that sits behind a survey dataset

• Explain the way surveys can be used in a range of research settings,

• Develop the understanding and practical skills in how to conduct a basic analysis of a survey dataset, including basic training in the use of SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Scientists) for the entry, handling and analysis of survey data

• Develop the critical skills needed to interpret and report simple data analysis.

• Impart knowledge about a range of sources of existing survey data and the way they can be evaluated and used in secondary analysis

• To help you understand the pros and cons of different approaches to using survey research (conducting your own survey versus using existing surveys)

• Give you the knowledge and critical skills to develop and write a dissertation research proposal based on the survey method, including the development of research questions

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will be able to:

• Understand the ways social surveys can be used to better understand the social world in a range of research and policy settings

• Understand the characteristics of a social survey dataset and the process by which survey data is derived

• Understand and be able to apply a range of techniques for the analysis of survey data using specialist data analysis software (SPSS)

• Accurately and critically interpret the output from secondary data analysis and use it to write a research report

• Identify and evaluate a range of secondary sources of survey data

• Be able to design a survey with consideration of questionnaire, sampling and fieldwork

• Evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of survey methods in social research

• Write a dissertation research proposal based on the survey method

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and workshops.

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

Assessment methods

2 essays of 1500 words (worth 50% each).

Feedback methods

Non-assessed weekly workshop exercises provide an opportunity for formative feedback on understanding and progress. Full written feedback is provided for both the coursework assignments in grademark.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nan Zhang Unit coordinator

Return to course details