SO491      Half Unit
Quantitative Social Research Methods

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Yazmin Morlet Corti STC.S114


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Cities Programme, MPhil/PhD in Sociology, MSc in Economy and Society, MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Economy and Society, MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Sociology, MPhil/PhD in Cities Programme and MPhil/PhD in Sociology. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course introduces students to a range of quantitative methodologies used in contemporary social research, the selection of appropriate quantitative methods to address research questions, and key strategies for the analysis of quantitative data. Exploring the design of quantitative research and the analysis of quantitative data will allow students to discuss problems of measurement and sampling, conceptualization, inference, and causality. The course also explores important debates and approaches in quantitative sociology, using a case study approach. For every method we cover, we will read a selection of articles taken from major journals in the discipline. By analyzing and criticizing the operationalization of quantitative methods in these articles, we will cover issues of research design and get a sense of what each method does (and does not do), and of the type of research questions to which it can be applied.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and workshops totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the LT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will write formative memos based on course readings and class activities.

Indicative reading

Abbott, A. (2004). “Ideas and Puzzles”, Chapter 7 in Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for Social Sciences. New York: Norton, pp. 211-248.

Fox, C. (2004). “The Changing Color of Welfare? How Whites’ Attitudes toward Latinos Influence their Support for Welfare”, American Journal of Sociology 110, 580-625.Legewie, J. (2013). Terrorist Events and Attitudes toward Immigrants: A Natural Experiment. American Journal of Sociology, 118(5), 1199-1245.

Piketty, T., & Saez, E. (2003). Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 1-39.

Lim, H., & Duan, H. (2015). Should we blame the graduates for their unemployment? A happiness approach. Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, 56(2), 243-258.

Salganik, Matthew J., Peter S. Dodds, and Duncan J. Watts. 2006. “Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market”, Science 311: 854–856.

Savage, M., Devine, F., Cunningham, N., Taylor, M., Li, Y., Hjellbrekke, J., . . . Miles, A.(2013). A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC's Great British Class Survey Experiment. Sociology: The Journal of the British Sociological Association, 47(2), 219.


Memo (25%) in the LT.
Research proposal (75%, 3500 words) in the ST.

The first assessment is a 1500-word memo (25%) due in week 9 of Lent Term. The second assessment is a 3500-word research proposal (75%) due in the second week of Summer Term. The proposal should outline your own research question utilizing one of the quantitative methods seen in class.

An electronic copy of the assessed memo to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 4.00pm on the Friday of Lent Term week 9. An electronic copy of the research proposal to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 4.00pm on the second Friday of Summer Term.

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.9
Merit 58.1
Pass 25.8
Fail 3.2

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: 36

Average class size 2020/21: 17

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills