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Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research

Introduction to Data Analysis 1

Date: 6 March 2017, 5 June 2017 
Time:10am — 4.30
Instructor: Jen Buckley (March) / Jen Prattley (June)
Level: Introductory
Fee: £195 (£140 for those from educational, government and charitable institutions). 
The Cathie Marsh Institute (CMIST) offers five free places to research staff and students within the Faculty of Humanities at The University of Manchester and the North West Doctoral Training Centre. 
Postgraduate students requesting a free place will be required to provide a letter of support from their supervisor.


This course provides an introduction to the theory and methods of quantitative data analysis, focussing on the social survey. It has an emphasis on hands-on learning, with a series of practical sessions using a statistical software package such as SPSS to explore the British Social Attitudes Survey Dataset.


The course will:

  • Introduce participants to survey data as a key quantitative resource for social science research;
  • Introduce the structure and properties of survey data and consider the process by which variables in a dataset are derived;
  • Explain the distinction between interval and discrete variables;
  • Consider strategies for exploratory data analysis including methods for describing and summarising variable distributions;
  • Provide participants with a conceptual understanding of the stages involved in exploring the relationship between variables;
  • Provide essential skills of data manipulation including selecting sub-sets and recoding;
  • Introduce the visual representation of variables in scatter graphs, bar charts and histograms.


The course is designed for new users of survey data and does not presume any previous knowledge or experience working with quantitative methods.

It would be particularly appropriate for those who may anticipate working with a survey dataset and who wish to learn the basics of exploratory data analysis, possibly as a foundation for more advanced training.

The course stands alone but is designed as precursor to Introduction to Data Analysis 2, where the attention moves to the analysis of relationships between variables and testing hypotheses.

Together the courses provide an excellent basis for moving on to training in more advanced methods such as logistic and multiple regression.

Recommended reading

Field, A. (2012) Discovering statistics using SPSS for Windows: London: SAGE Publications.

De Vaus, David. (2002) Analyzing Social Science Data: London: SAGE Publications.

De Vaus, David. (2002) Surveys in Social Research, 5th ed., London: Routledge

Rumsey, D. (2003) Statistics for Dummies. Wiley Indianapolis, Indiana.

Blaikie, N. (2003) Analyzing Quantitative Data: from description to explanation, London, SAGE Publications.

About the instructors