Statistics in Society

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Savage S210 and Dr Jouni Kuha COL 8.02


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course will introduce sociology students to the importance of quantification in modern societies, and will familiarise them with the main instruments for the collection of quantitative data, including surveys, census, administrative and transactional data. It will explore how numbers are deployed within social settings, how they can be used to both construct and challenge power relations. It will reflect on how digitalisation is reworking the significance of quantification in social life. In pursuing these concerns, students will learn basic descriptive skills of quantitative data analysis, notably how to download large data sets, how to manipulate variables and carry out descriptive statistical analyses with statistical software, and how to present statistical information in tabular and graphical form.


10 hours of lectures, 5 hours of seminars and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures, 5 hours of seminars and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of lectures and 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

One 2000 word essay asking students to reflect on the changing use of quantitative data in social scientific research. Two practical exercises demonstrating basic knowledge of data processing and descriptive statistical analysis using statistical software.

Indicative reading

Daniel Dorling et al, Statistics in Society: The Arithmetic of Politics (1998)

K Pickett and R Wilkinson, The Spirit Level, Penguin 2009

Catherine Marsh and Jane Elliot (2008): Exploring Data (2nd ed.)
M Savage, Identities and social change in Britain since 1940: the politics of method, (2010)


Exam (50%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information