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Unit information: Practical Statistics for Use in Research and Policy in 2021/22

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Unit name Practical Statistics for Use in Research and Policy
Unit code GEOGM0010
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Mr. Hayes
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This course introduces students to concepts and methodologies of social statistics, and how data analysis is used to assess variation in the physical and social world. This course is about quantitative techniques and analysis; looking at how data is collected and issues of survey design; and how data is used in forming policy. At the end of this course, students should: • Understand why we need quantitative methods • Select appropriate analytical techniques (using both descriptive and inferential statistics) • Interpret and analyse quantitative data and output from SPSS (the statistical software we will be using) • Be able to perform and interpret logistic regression • Have an understanding of survey design, sampling, and data collection • Be confident with using and manipulating large-scale datasets • Be able to draw potential policy implications from their own quantitative analysis This is not simply a statistics course – it will give students a good grounding in quantitative methods, data collection, and interpretation and possible policy implications of their findings. Guest lectures will show how statistics are applied in the wider world of industry and the public sector.

Aims: To develop, by debate, discussion, lectures and with hands-on experience, an understanding of key statistical concepts, good practice in the presentation and analysis of social data, awareness of the issues underpinning survey design, and an overview of how to inject geographical thinking into social and environmental data analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completing the unit students will be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes:

  1. a knowledge of the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics;
  2. knowledge of the core ideas and thinking behind inferential statistics;
  3. the ability to perform logistic regression;
  4. an overview of how to inject geographical thinking into statistical research;
  5. an informed and balanced critique of the limits of statistical evidence in social research and policy;
  6. a good understanding of key issues behind survey design;
  7. an understanding of and ability to use SPSS for statistical analysis.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace
  • computer practical work; students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements

Assessment Information

There will be two components of the assessment for this course:

1. (Worth 30% of overall mark) - short 1,500 word essay exploring the necessity and advantages of quantitative methods.

2. (Worth 70%) Policy Briefing (no more than 2 sides of A4 including references) on a country/area of interest, using data from the World Values Survey. Analysing a key policy area, students will use descriptive and inferential quantitative methodologies to infer potential policy implications, presented in the style of a policy briefing. This will involve data analysis and interpretation using the methods taught in class, independent reading, and drawing out potential policy implications from their analysis, written using non-technical language. Students will also be expected to produce a technical appendix (again no more than two sides of A4), presenting the output from their analysis.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GEOGM0010).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.