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date_range Starts on February 8, 2016
event_note Ends on February 11, 2016
list 3 sequences
assignment Level : Introductory
chat_bubble_outline Language : English
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Key Information

credit_card Free access
verified_user Free certificate
timer 9 hours in total

About the content

Learn how to make sense of social statistics and economic data with this introductory course on quantitative social science.

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Increasingly, we’re bombarded with all sorts of data about how society is changing: opinion poll trends; migration data; economic results; government debt levels; and MPs’ expenses claims. More often than not, the data are presented to bolster a (sometimes contentious) claim, so the ability to read such information with confidence is an increasingly important skill for both modern citizens and those studying the social sciences. What do social statistics and economic data really reveal? In this free online course, we’ll look at ways of cutting through the confusion to decide what numbers reveal, and when and why they (sometimes deliberately) mislead. We’ll ask: How do we make sense of all these numbers? How can we decide which ones to trust and which to doubt? And how do we know which might reveal important trends and which are less dramatic than they sound? By the end of the course, you will have improved your data literacy skills; developed an understanding of how social statistics are created and used; and become a more critical consumer and user of social and economic data. Learn with experts in quantitative social science The course is led by a team of experts from The Sheffield Methods Institute at the University of Sheffield - one of 15 centres charged by the Q-Step Programme with improving British social science undergraduates’ quantitative skills. Between them, they have considerable expertise in the use and analysis of social data, and in teaching data literacy and analysis skills in an accessible, engaging yet rigorous way. You can find out more about tricky data with this post on the FutureLearn blog from Dr Andrew Bell: Blue Monday and the problem of junk science.


  • Mark Taylor
  • Aneta Piekut
  • Todd Hartman



FutureLearn is a massive open online course (MOOC) learning platform founded in December 2012.

It is a company launched and wholly owned by The Open University in Milton Keynes, England. It is the first UK-led massive open online course learning platform, and as of March 2015 included 54 UK and international University partners and unlike similar platforms includes four non-university partners: the British Museum, the British Council, the British Library and the National Film and Television School.

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