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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Survey Methods and Data (PGSP11157)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe course aims to provide students with a) the skills and knowledge to design and conduct social scientific surveys; b) the capacity to evaluate critically the survey designs of other researchers and the findings and claims that are made on the basis of survey data; c) knowledge of how to access, search and utilise secondary survey data from a range of sources. Many students will already be familiar with techniques for analysing survey data: this course is primarily concerned with the production and characteristics of these data, rather than how they might be analysed.
The course places a strong emphasis on doing as well as learning. The first part of the course is classroom-based. Alongside lectures about the key elements of survey design and practice, students work together in small groups to design their own surveys on a series of topics. The second part of the course is in the computer lab. Shorter talks and demonstrations are integrated with practical exercises related to the coding of survey data; the design of on-line surveys; accessing and searching key sources of secondary data and survey questions; accessing, understanding and exploring cross-national and longitudinal survey data and data from population censuses.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2011/12 Semester 2, Available to all students (SV1) WebCT enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Location Activity Description Weeks Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
No Classes have been defined for this Course
First Class Week 1, Tuesday, 09:00 - 10:50, Zone: Central. S.1, 7 George Square
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should:

1. Understand the research design issues implicated in the use of survey methods
2. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the types of data generally produced by surveys
3. Understand the relationship between theory or abstract concepts and survey research, and how to operationalize such concepts
4. Have knowledge of the various methods for the administration of surveys, and their strengths and weaknesses
5. Know how to design a questionnaire in such a way as to maximize the quality of the data created
6. Know how to prepare surveys for the field through pre-testing
7. Understand sampling terminology and have knowledge of various types of probability and non-probability sampling techniques, and their strengths and weaknesses
8. Have an awareness of the potential sources of bias and error related to the selection of survey participants and the responses they give to questions
9. Have an awareness of the kinds of ethical and political issues related to the practice of survey research
10. Know how to prepare primary survey data for analysis
11. Have some practice in the design of online surveys
12. Have an awareness of the major secondary sources of survey and census data available to social and political scientists
13. Have the necessary skills to explore and utilise data from a range of sources of secondary survey data
Assessment Information
3,500-4,00 word. A research proposal based on a topic to be determined by the course organiser, incorporating a description of the design of a primary survey and a report on secondary data relevant to the research topic.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Introduction to surveys and survey designs
Methods of administering surveys
Operationalizing concepts
Pre-testing survey questions
Questionnaire design
Sources of bias and error
Ethical and political issues in survey research
Preparing data for analysis
Key issues and design of on-line surveys
Introduction to secondary analysis
Sources of secondary data and questions
Understanding and handling longitudinal survey data
Key issues and sources of cross-national data
Introduction to the UK Censuses and data
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Fowler, F. J. (2009) Survey Research Methods (4th edition), London: Sage.
Czaja, R. and J. Blair (2005) Designing Surveys (2nd edition), London: Sage.
de Vaus, D. (2002) Surveys in Social Research (5th edition), London: Routledge.
Sapsford, R. (2006) Survey Research (2nd edition), London: Sage.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Ross Bond
Tel: (0131 6)50 3919
Course secretaryMrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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