undergraduates students at the SMI

Quantitative Social Sciences BSc

Sheffield Methods Institute

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You are viewing this course for 2021-2022 entry.

Key details

Course description

Undergraduates studying

This course gets to the heart of social science and why it matters: how high-quality research is done, how it's communicated and the difference it can make to our lives.

As one of only 15 UK Q-Step centres, we deliver intensive training in quantitative methods. From gathering and interpreting data, to understanding trends and how social statistics are created and used, you'll learn data literacy and analysis skills in an accessible, engaging, rigorous way.

You will choose from three subject pathways that lend themselves to the analysis of numerical data, a skill that is in demand by the UK job market.

You'll become well-versed in the intellectual concerns of contemporary social science, taking one of the following pathways:

  • Geography, Landscape and Urban Studies
  • Criminology, Politics and Sociology
  • Management

You'll learn how to use statistical software packages through hands-on practical sessions in our state-of-the-art computer lab. You'll become a highly proficient researcher, adept at communicating your findings to both a specialist and non-specialist audience.

There are plenty of chances to get valuable work experience, including on our placement scheme.

You might work on a project for an industry partner, go on placement with a company or do consultation or research work for a government office or research centre.


The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Title: Quantitative Social Sciences BSc
UCAS code: L434
Years: 2021

In the first year, you will take four core modules, 40 credits from Geography, Urban Studies and Landscape and then 20 credits from any other first year module on the BSc Quantitative Social Sciences.

Core modules:

Data Visualisation

This module consists of three key elements. The first is principles of good graphic design, combined with how figures can be used to lie and mislead. The second is learning how to make a wide range of graphs, maps, and figures, for a wide range of different audiences, using the latest and most powerful software. The third is interpreting visual representations of data, whether from other sources or by students on he module themselves, and using them to answer substantive research questions. Fundamentally, this is a hands-on module that allows students to make and understand data visualisations.

10 credits
Introductory Quantitative Data Analysis for Social Scientists

This unit provides students with training in, and hands-on experience of, introductory quantitative data analysis techniques for social scientists. Students are introduced to descriptive statistics, data distributions, commonly encountered mathematical functions, principles of hypothesis testing, principles of statistical inference, and methods for testing bivariate relationships. The course includes hands-on experience of some commonly used statistical methods.

20 credits
Introductory research project in quantitative social science

This unit introduces students to the skills required for the effective design, execution and communication of a social science research project utilising quantitative methods. Students will construct their own research project aimed at answering a particular problem in social science, will identify, obtain and analyse the data necessary to answer that question, and will present their findings both on a written project report and in a poster paper to be presented at a student conference.

20 credits
Survey Design and Data Collection

Survey method is commonly used by government, business and other organisations to understand changes in the society. Yet, not always it leads to producing meaningful analysis as a result of bad survey design choices. This module will improve your understanding of the art of asking survey questions and the science underpinning survey data collection. Specifically, you will learn how to design an effective questionnaire, whom to include in the survey sample, how to organised your fieldwork and finally, how to process raw data and manage the final dataset. You will use online survey software to practice your skills.

10 credits

You will take 40 credits from Geography, Urban Studies and Landscape below.

Information and Communication Skills

The skills needed to be able to find, evaluate, summarise and critically evaluate information are all vital to success in an undergraduate degree programme, and are also key transferable skills. This module will provide training in a wide range of methods for information handling and communication. The teaching is largely in workshops, with students expected to take more responsibility for their own learning as the module progresses. Lectures provide basic tuition in skills, whilst workshops and a range of exercises are used to develop these skills.

10 credits
Housing, Home and Neighbourhood

Housing and the homes and neighbourhoods that we live in are in the news every day. Whether this is over concerns about housing shortages, affordability, housing bubbles, `generation rent¿, social housing, housing evictions, city-centre housing, DIY and `grand designs¿, or debates about the domestic sphere, `home as a haven¿, `benefit streets¿, flooding and shack settlements, housing is often at the centre of social science research. This module aims to introduce students to this broad and diverse subject by drawing on the expertise of staff who research across these multiple themes. The module focuses on contemporary concerns, while maintaining an appreciation of the impact of historical trends (e.g. the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8). The module will make use of cases from the UK and abroad to illustrate trends, arguments and challenges.

10 credits
The Making of Urban Places

This module will introduce you to cities and urbanisation, from the very first settlements to contemporary metropolises, using examples from across the world. The module focuses on thinking about the role of cities within societies and civilisations throughout history. We will look at how various forces shape cities, the outcomes of urbanisation for cities and their populations and how urban governments and planners have sought to respond to the challenges of urbanisation. We will explore influential ideas which have changed our thinking about cities and examine some of the major global challenges facing cities today.

20 credits
The Changing Landscape

This module aims to: - Introduce landscape and environmental planning as a means of intervening in landscape at the large scale. - Provide an understanding of landscape formation, change and the drivers of change. - Introduce the toolkit available to landscape planners. - Introduce the theory and technique of Landscape Character Assessment. - Develop report writing skills and visual literacy. - Introduce student to ArcGIS. By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate understanding of/proficiency in: - The influences and processes that shape landscape. - The relationship between landscape planning and landscape policy. - Sourcing and interpreting landscape information. - Appreciating the (sometimes controversial) nature of landscape change. - Landscape Character and Landscape Character Assessment at an introductory level capacity and sensitivity analysis at an introductory level. - Communicating landscape data and analysis at a planning scale in a critical imaginative and creative manner.

20 credits
The Environmental Challenge

Environmental and ecological challenges are becoming increasingly important in socio-spatial regulation. This module introduces students to the main concepts and theories that underpin environmental policy-making with particular reference to the issues and examples at local, national and global scales. This module has four main aims: (1) to examine the key environmental challenges facing human societies; (2) to explore past, present and possible future responses to those challenges; (3) to provide students with a range of conceptual and analytical tools for analysing political and regulatory responses to environmental conflict and (4) to provide students with knowledge and understanding to assist in confronting environmental challenges.

10 credits
Economics for Spatial Planning

This module provides an overview of both theoretical economics and the structure of the UK economy. The first part of the module will consider a number of perspectives on the way an economy operates. Particular attention will be given to market exchange, as modelled by orthodox economic analysis as well as looking at a number of alternative views of economic behaviour; for example, institutional economics and socioeconomics. The second part of the module will examine key characteristics of the UK economy, including issues such as economic cycles, unemployment, land markets and the role of the public and voluntary sectors. Where appropriate, geographical and social differences in economic opportunities and outcomes will be highlighted.

10 credits

The main aim of Cities is to introduce you to our urban condition in a global context. Within this broad aim we will connect you to a range of key issues in contemporary urban studies and help you to understand more about the roots of urban problems and questions of social inequality and social justice within that context. This a general course that aims to develop an understanding of urban social life, economies, political systems, disorder and a range of other themes in an international context.

10 credits
Development, Planning and the State

The module provides an introduction to state intervention into land and property development and to current planning law and practice. Having considered land-use patterns within an unrestrained market economy, the first part of the module covers the development of state machinery in the nineteenth century and the current structure of national, regional and local government. The central part of the module introduces the British planning system as an administrative tool and the final third of the module explores its application to matters of current concern including the accomodation of new housebuilding at the sub-regional scale, and urban conservation.

20 credits
Exploring Human Geographies

The module provides an introduction to human geography including key principles and processes in economic, social and cultural geography. It describes the main elements and issues involved in the global economic system including the process of uneven development and how local economic activities are moulded by global forces. It also provides an introduction to social and cultural geography focusing on a range of concepts, current debates and contemporary issues. Drawing examples from around the world and at a variety of geographical scales, the module highlights the value of a geographical perspective on current economic, social and cultural issues.

20 credits
Environmental Change and Society

This module will introduce students to a wide range of critical environmental issues facing the world today from physical science and social science perspectives. Using a range of environmental problems evident in the Global North and Global South (such as climate change, water resources, land-use change, agriculture), the physical and social processes implicated will be examined. Drawing on a range of examples, students will critically explore the causes, consequences, management and solutions to environmental issues and learn how to question assumptions about environmental processes.

20 credits
Exploring New Horizons in Geography

Academic Geography is a wide and vibrant field. Geographers contribute actively to new intellectual debates in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and their work addresses some of the most pressing issues facing the modern world, from climate change to food security, informing policy and practice. The module provides level 1 Geography students with a challenging but accessible insight into the cutting edge of contemporary geographical research and how it helps us understand our changing world. It therefore serves as bridge between the general introductory modules of the level 1 BA and BSc courses in Geography, and the more specialist modules taught at levels 2 and 3. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to see the difference that a geographical perspective can make to our understanding of some of the largest challenges facing the world. Each year, a selection of topical issues in contemporary human and physical geography will be explored by academics actively engaged in cutting edge research on those subjects. The course will be taught via lectures and guided reading.

20 credits

You will take 20 credits from the list below and/or any other first year module on the BSc Quantitative Social Sciences.

Economy, Society and Public Policy (ESPP)

ESPP is for students who are interested in the big policy problems facing societies today ¿ inequality within and between countries, environmental sustainability, the future of work, health and wellbeing, wealth creation and financial instability and so on. This module has been created specifically for social science students who are NOT economists, but who want to understand how the economy works, and how it can be made to work better. The module will give you an understanding of the ways in which we can interpret the evidence on the social and economic issues of today, and formulate appropriate public policy interventions. We emphasise issues of power, social norms, fairness, institutions, etc, and illustrate throughout with real-world data.

20 credits
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Whether you're a journalist writing stories for the public, or a social research analyst working in government, you need to be able to understand, use and present data. This 10 credit module aims to demystify data and encourage critical thinking on statistics; often wrongly used, and sometimes in very misleading ways. The module will equip you with the knowledge and skills you'll need to become a discerning data user, through engaging teaching, active learning and examples from the news media. The module is comprised of a mix of lectures and computer workshops and is assessed through a multiple choice exam.

10 credits

In the second year, you will take three core modules, 40 credits from Geography, Urban Studies and Landscape and then 20 credits from any other second year module on the BSc Quantitative Social Sciences.

Core modules:

Multivariate Data Analysis in Social Science

The module is designed to provide students with a solid grounding in the proper application of multivariate data analysis methods, and an appreciation of their role in the study of contemporary society. This is achieved through a combination of lectures, practical classes and seminars which cover the underlying ideas, provide hands-on experience and give examples of the methods¿ application in the research and policy literature. The module covers methods including multivariate regression, logistic regression, and classification methods.

20 credits
Intermediate Research Project in Quantitative Social Science

This unit gives students experience in conducting a social science research project employing quantitative methods, and provides training in the design and preparation of a viable independent quantitative social science research project. It discusses how to refine a research idea, how to decide on the appropriate choice of data and methods to analyse research questions, how to plan and conduct the research process to ensure the successful completion of a project (emphasising issues of ethics, timing and resourcing), and how to present research plans and results effectively.

20 credits
Spatial Analysis

The aims of the module are to provide students with a broad introduction to the basic concepts of GIS and how they can be used for the spatial analysis of a wide range of data for planning purposes. The assessments will (a) test students' individual understanding of key concepts and their ability to think about the potentials and limitations of using spatial analysis to solve planning related problems; and (b) assess students' skills in the practical application of GIS and spatial analysis to a contemporary planning-related problem.

20 credits

You will take 40 credits from Geography, Urban Studies and Landscape below.

Geographies of Development

Development in the Global South is a major issue of international concern in the 21st century. This module explores contemporary development issues and examines the contribution that geographers, and geographical thought, can make towards understanding inequality, poverty and socio-economic change. Definitions of `development¿, `poverty¿ and `the poor¿ shift and are invested with political meaning which reflect specific geographies and ways of seeing the world: students develop critical understandings of such terminology and the power dynamics implicit within them. This module addresses diverse theories, paradigms and contemporary critiques of development, and explores some of the central issues affecting processes of development. Case examples are drawn from Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia.

20 credits
Atmospheres and Oceans

This module will give students an understanding of the global climate, focusing on the atmospheres, the oceans, and their interaction. The first part of the module will consider the main characteristics of, and processes behind, climate from the global to the local scale. The second part of the module will examine the physical characteristics of the oceans and their geographical variation, and the role of the oceans in the climate system.

20 credits
Social and Cultural Geographies

This module builds on the Level 1 module Introduction to Human Geography. It illustrates the diversity and vitality of contemporary social and cultural geography including some of the philosophical concepts and theoretical debates that have shaped the subject. As well as demonstrating the value of a geographical perspective on a range of social and cultural issues, the module will enhance the understanding, critical awareness and interdisciplinary capacities of students. The module aims to deepen and enrich the ways in which students are able to think about geographical issues, through a critical understanding of concepts and approaches that underpin the substance and methods of contemporary human geography. The module is delivered through lectures and engagement with a variety of media.

20 credits
Environmental Pollution and Quality

This module aims to introduce the students to the origins, pathways and consequences of pollutants in the environment, their control and remediation. Pollutants are released into the environment through anthropogenic activities that include domestic, leisure and industrial practices. These pollutants are potentially harmful to the ecosystem and human health. Therefore, an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes involved during the contamination of water and soil is essential to protect the environment. This module provides an introduction on how to assess and quantify pollutants by using laboratory techniques for the determination of contamination in water and soil.

20 credits
Earth Surface Processes

This course on the earth surface processes looks at the relationship between processes and landforms at a variety of scales in space and time. It examines endogenic processes originating within the earth, exogenic processes occurring at the earth/atmosphere/ocean interface and the way they interact to create landforms. The course discusses geomorphological concepts, frameworks and monitoring techniques and will elucidate a range of quantitative modelling approaches, where numerical expressions are introduced. Case studies drawn from staff research (e.g. aeolian/fluvial/volcanic) alongside practical classes and an appreciation of the importance of new measurement techniques to process understanding, will directly support learning. The course is delivered through 20 one-hour lectures, and 3 three-hour practical classes.

20 credits
Doing Quantitative Research

This dynamic inquiry-based course will provide students with practical experience of conducting quantitative social research that has real-life application to the social world. Using a wide range of national and international sources, students will work on the process of gathering, processing, and analysing quantitative data, with a particular focus on communicating findings to a wide range of audiences. This will involve working with different software to analyse and present results, using a wide range of graphical techniques, and interpreting quantitative results in social science more generally.

20 credits
Urban Theory

The aims are (i) to develop knowledge and understanding of contemporary and historical urban theories and politics, (ii) to enhance critical thinking about urban issues and policy, (iii) to expand awareness of the assumptions, values and ideas underlying current theories and policies for cities, (iv) to engender awareness and critical thinking regarding equal opportunities (v) to develop knowledge regarding uban governance, urban economic change and contemporary urban social problems. The course is in two parts: Part 1 focuses on the development of urban theory, drawing on explanations of urban growth and change from the 19th C to the present; Part 2 considers the contemporary city economy, urban politics, urban social problems and equal opportunities issues.

20 credits
Political Geographies

The module introduces students to contemporary debates within political geography. Political processes are discussed at a variety of spatial scales, from international politics, through national politics, local and community politics and individual political behaviour. Questions of power, efficacy and conflict are examined at all these scales. Particular emphasis is given to spatial and place-specific aspects of politics. Among the issues normally discussed in the module are: geopolitics and international relations; the state and territoriality; the politics of nationalism and citizenship; welfare regimes and the geography of public policy; civic activism; and individual political participation.

20 credits
Environment, Society and Politics

Environmental issues continue to be a key area of contemporary public concern and current political debate. They raise fundamental questions about the relationship between society and environment, and the politics of that relationship. This module provides a geographical introduction to these issues and debates with examples from a range of scales from the global to the local. After a review of key concepts, the module is developed through inter-related sections covering debates through different empirical themes.

20 credits
Past Environmental Change

The landscape we live in is a dynamic place and has been in the past as well. Huge changes at a global, regional and local scale have occurred in the last 2.6 million years of the earth's history (Quaternary period). These changes are ongoing with implications for both present and future environments. Methods and techniques to investigate past environmental changes from proxy data are outlined and illustrated. The module also looks at how palaeoenvironments have responded to past climate changes thereby putting a context for present day climate changes and predicting future changes.

20 credits
Glaciers and Ice Sheets

This module examines glaciers and ice sheets of the World focussing on how they are believed to function and with some consideration of their historic and future changes.We examine how glaciers and ice sheets come into existence through an understanding of climate and the concept of glacier mass balance. We then consider how glaciers work including on topics such as ice flow, hydrological drainage, ice streams, ice shelves, glacial lakes, and icebergs. Hazards to humankind are also explored. How glaciers modify the underlying landscape is dealt with via a section on glacial geomorphological processes and landforms, and we consider how landscapes evolve under the influence of ice.

20 credits
Cities and Modernities

The links between social conflict and cultural production in the history of modern cities have long fascinated scholars exploring the cultural history of the capitalist urban imagination. They have sought to understand the way artists, intellectuals, political activists, ordinary people and other thinkers sought to understand and explain the varied experiences of, and relationships between, sensory perceptions, aesthetic judgments and power relations in their own place and time. This module will draw from historical, cultural, social, and political geographies as well as other disciplines to engage with the shifting nature and spatiality of these relationships through case studies of selected cities, the particular changes in capitalist urban culture they occasioned, contemporary responses to those changes, and the theoretical debates they inspired. Key topics will include urban form and architecture, cultural difference and social inequality, representational practices and bodily experiences, and the overall consciousness of change in modern capitalist cities.

20 credits
Landscape Planning for a Changing World

This module explores the relationship between landscape,planning, policy and governance at different scales and in different contexts. This ranges from international decision-making frameworks down to individual sites in different contexts. Students will learn about the impact of policy and ideas on landscape and vice versa, and explore the role of landscape planning tools, techniques and methodologies within the wider planning framework. The module will examine how decisions about landscape are made and the effects they have from the strategic to the site scale.

20 credits
Doing Qualitative Research

Qualitative research remains a key method of data collection and analysis in the social sciences and the skills and techniques that researchers use to generate qualitative data have numerous other applications in the workplace and beyond. In this inquiry-based module students will continue to develop their ability to collect, analyse, and present qualitative data by working on problem-focussed research project. Building on their experience of social research practice they have developed at level one, by the end of this module, students will have completed a team-based qualitative project from beginning to end and used the data to produce an internet-ready research newsletter 'Google Site'. More importantly, they will also demonstrate the ability to critically reflect on the process of doing qualitative research.

20 credits
Profit, Planning and Context

The module explores the relationship between the activities of profit-seeking business, the use and development of land and the planning activity. It provides an elementary introduction to the economics of land and property development and explores how these pressures interact with lifestyle choices to shape the use of land and property and the implication for public planning. The first part provides a brief introduction to measuring the performance of businesses and investments. The remainder of the module looks at the use of land and property for housing, retail, leisure, employment and transport uses in `urban¿ contexts

20 credits

In the final year, you will take three core modules and 40 credits from Geography, Urban Studies and Landscape.

Core modules:

Advanced Research Project in Quantitative Social Science

This module requires the student to prepare, organise, research and report a piece of original work on a social science topic. The student will decide on the topic and will either be expected to collect original material in order to investigate it, or to perform secondary analysis on information drawn from existing source (and in both cases using quantitative methods to analyse the data). The finished product is presented in the style, and at the length, associated with academic journal articles.

40 credits
Doing Mixed Methods Research

Research in the social sciences is increasingly using mixed methods to explore the social world. This module covers the principles and practices of conducting mixed methods research (MMR), through an enquiry-based learning approach. By designing and completing their own projects, students will learn how to apply mixed methods and appreciate the value of bringing together both qualitative and quantitative approaches in conducting research. Students will develop their ability to collect, analyse, and present MMR data, alongside critically reflecting process of using MMR.

20 credits
Research Dissemination in Social Sciences

This unit is focused on students preparing and presenting a body of work in various forms, and to various audiences. The aim of the unit is to develop students' ability to disseminate the findings of their L3 dissertation/independent project to both specialist and non-specialist audience, and in a variety of written and verbal forms. This will culminate in a conference towards the end of the year.

20 credits

You will take 40 credits from Geography, Urban Studies and Landscape below.

Decolonising Geographies

This module examines Indigenous geographies through Indigenous storytelling and film as a way to understand the need to decolonise geography. It examines how race, racism, Indigenous rights, settler colonialism, settler responsibility, white supremacy, land rights, dispossession and genocide shape geographies of place, space and landscape. Topics covered include geographies of identity, emotions, memory, racism, colonialism, gender, landscape, and visual representation. The aim of this module is to centre Indigenous narratives, voices and knowledges to understand geography differently while simultaneously critiquing the current whiteness of academic geographical discourse. Trigger warning – this module engages with potentially distressing and challenging themes of rape, murder, abuse, loss and violence.

20 credits
Development and Global Change

The aim of this module is to critically examine the development process within a global context, drawing on examples from developed and developing nations. Attention is given to the different ways in which we in the West understand 'development', and how we can reflect more critically on our position, and the power relations within this process. Drawing on debates within development geography, and other disciplines, the course is structured around three themes: the development industry, the poverty agenda and the local-global nexus. Topics covered may include: neoliberalism and state governance, humanitarian intervention, gender and empowerment, protests and social movements, corporate social responsibility, participation and empowerment, local forms of resistance, environmental action and change.

20 credits
Geographies of Consumption

The ways in which we buy and use stuff and services are inextricable from the shaping of both our everyday lives and of contemporary societies. From constructions of identity and models of human well-being to issues of social equality and environmental sustainability, debates around consumption illuminate critical perspectives on contemporary societies and cultures. This module explores key contemporary geographical perspectives on consumption, linking critical insights and theoretical perspectives to our own practices and experiences.

20 credits
Advances in Cryosphere Science

This research-led module will examine glacial environments in their broadest sense including both their contemporary and former states. Typically the module will contain four sections including:1)Glaciology (processes and phenomena of current glaciers)2)Palaeoglaciology (reconstructions of former glaciers)3)Periglacial environments (cold region processes often close to glacierised regions)4)Specialist guest research contributions (lectures/seminars on topical cryospheric research).

20 credits
Landscape Planning Toolkits

On completing this module students will:- have gained an overview of contemporary landscape planning tools- be aware of the legislative basis to environmental impact assessment and the circumstances in which it is likely to take place- understand the scope of the process and the steps that are involved, distinguishing between the assessment process itself and the environmental statement- have gained knowledge and understanding of the range of environmental topics covered in environmental impact assessment and the techniques involved- have understood the place that considerations of landscape and visual impact play in the process- have gained practical experience of assessing the landscape and visual impacts of a development scheme- understand some of the methods of presenting information on landscape and visual impacts in an environmental statement.

20 credits
Environmental Policy and Governance

This unit aims to help students analyse environmental policy. It provides an overview of principal elements of contemporary environmental governance, and an introduction to the process of systematic policy evaluation in relation to a policy element of their choice. The module focuses on the contested and complex nature of the policy environment, and the role of the public and specific interests. Through individual investigation of a specific element of policy, students will explore the multi-level nature of environmental policy, contested and competing policy goals, and theories about how policy brings about change. Teaching involves a combination of lectures and interactive seminars.

10 credits
Philosophy, Aesthetics and Place

Place, in all its forms, has long inspired radically new thought and perception. This module will explore the work of several historical and contemporary philosophers and artists in situ -why did their work arise where it did? What difference does that place (or places) make to their thought and expression? This module will guide students through the intricate relationship between philosophy, art (across various media) and geography with emphasis on specific types of place as sites of intellectual thought and creative practice. These may range from the large scale such as nation and heimat, to the urban scale, to the intimate such as the village and even the body. Core themes will include identity, place and displacement, historical imaginary and the built environment, and creativity and social/spatial transformation.

20 credits
Planetary Geoscience

This module introduces the student to the fascinating discipline of planetary geoscience and exploration. By using the principles of Physical Geography to study unfamiliar environments, we will explore problems that touch upon themes from climate, tectonics, geomorphology, hydrology, and life. The module begins with the Solar System but soon focuses on planetary-scale matters, using the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) as main examples because of an explosion of knowledge gathered from their observation. We will consider the new perspectives which such knowledge offers on the Earth's dynamic systems.

20 credits
Urban Transformations

From the industrial-era modern cities of the Global North such as Manchester and Chicago to the fragmented, sprawling mega-cities of the contemporary Global South such as Lagos and Delhi, urban theorists have sought to understand the interplay of power, everyday practice, and social, political, economic, and cultural processes that both transform and are transformed by urban space. This module draws from interdisciplinary theory and research to engage with urban transformations in both the Global North and the Global South. The module may address themes such as urbanization, infrastructure, inequality and social stratification, value, difference, and embodiment.

20 credits
Critical Ecologies

This module explores the critical, contested and controversial debates about environmental and ecological issues. Using a range of examples of research undertaken by staff in the department from the Global North and Global South this module develops a critical geographical approach to understanding environmental controversies. Examples will be drawn from a range of issues including agriculture, water, energy, food, climate change and housing.

20 credits
Coastal Systems: Processes and Management

This module will explore the processes occuring within coastal environments, covering a range of oceanographic, meteorological, geological, geomorphological, biogeochemical and biological topics, including aspects of societal interaction with these environments. The topics covered will vary depending on the teaching team; the environments studied may include estuaries, dunes, cliffs, near-shore environments and fjords, among others. The aim of the module is to give students an appreciation of the variety and multi-disciplinarity of the physical geography of the coastal margins. An integral element of this module will be a weekend field component.

20 credits
Values, Theory and Ethics in Spatial Planning

This course explores the interrelationships between theoretical debates within spatial planning and everyday practice. The aim is to provide an introduction to the theoretical debates in planning with particular focus on the values and ethical dilemmas underlying spatial planning practice in Britain. It should be noted that the planning activity provides the focus for the course but that the issues and concerns are also linked to the work of other built environment professionals.

20 credits
Transport and Infrastructure Planning

This module will provide students with an introduction to planning and policymaking in relation to the provision of transport and other types of infrastructure. The module develops students' ability to think critically about the framing of transport and infrastructure policy using an appreciation of historic developments, current practices and debates, transport and infrastructure planning examples from the UK and abroad. It will focus on how planners working at a range of spatial scales can give shape to effective transport and infrastructure strategies, which balance a range of environmental, social and economic objectives.

20 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Learning and assessment


You'll learn through a combination of lectures and seminars, and you'll also benefit from small group teaching within the department.

As part of the course you'll become highly competent in sampling, research and survey design, data collection and the generation and analysis of data.

You'll also gain hands-on experience in the analysis of major national and international social science data sets such as the National Census or the Eurobarometer surveys.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours

Our courses draw on research and teaching expertise from across Sheffield's highly rated Faculty of Social Sciences. Our academics are highly respected leaders within their fields and are working at the cutting edge of their disciplines.

Their world-class research addresses the major challenges facing society and it drives and enhances our teaching.


Assessments on the course range from essays, projects and presentations to practical assignments based on real-life case studies and data. In your final year, you'll complete a dissertation and will be supported by a dissertation tutor.

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:

A Levels + additional qualifications | BBB + B in a relevant EPQ. BBB + B in Core Maths BBB + B in a relevant EPQ. BBB + B in Core Maths

International Baccalaureate | 33 32

BTEC | DDD in a relevant subject DDM in a relevant subject

Scottish Highers | AAABB AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AB B + BB

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a social sciences subject with Distinctions in 30 Level 3 credits and Merits in 15 Level 3 credits 60 credits overall in a social sciences subject with Distinctions in 24 Level 3 credits and Merits in 21 Level 3 credits

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

Other requirements
  • GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Sheffield Methods Institute

Undergraduate class at Sheffield Methods Institute

The international jobs market is going to need a different kind of social science graduate. We're leading the way with two innovative degrees.

Today, social science graduates are expected to have more than one area of expertise. Our degrees are taught by experts from across the social sciences faculty so you're not limited to just one subject. We also have a strong focus on research skills that will set you apart from other graduates.

We're committed to providing individual support to help you succeed - while you're a student with us and after you graduate. Work experience and practical skills are a big part of our degrees. They're built into our courses so you'll have opportunities to go on work placements, for short periods or for a whole year, and you'll learn methods used by the world's leading social sciences researchers.

Our courses draw on research and teaching expertise from across Sheffield's highly-rated Faculty of Social Sciences. Our academics are highly respected leaders within their fields and are working at the cutting edge of their disciplines. Their world-class research addresses the major challenges facing society and it drives and enhances our teaching.

As part of one of the most diverse social science centres in the country, the Sheffield Methods Institute sits within the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield situated in the ICOSS building, near the centre of our campus.

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in ICOSS, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.


At the SMI we bring together the brightest talents in the fields of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Our students have access to our specially-developed data laboratories and learn from our expert staff.

Sheffield Methods Institute

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017

  No 1 in the north for graduate employment
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020

Sheffield Methods Institute

World Top 100 for social sciences

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

UK top 10 for social sciences

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Graduate careers

Sheffield Methods Institute

Our courses have been specifically designed to meet the growing demand for social science researchers with data analysis skills. You might choose to apply your skills in the public or private sector, for a charity or an NGO.

Previous students from the SMI have gone into analyst roles in local government and the private sector. Some have gone onto research positions and others have started their own business.

Our placements give you valuable work experience and help prepare you for life after you graduate. To hear more about our placements from our students and employers, see the link below.

Work experience and practical skills are a big part of our degrees. There are opportunities to go on work placements, for short periods or for a whole year, and you'll learn methods used by the world's leading social sciences researchers.

Our graduates have gone into analyst roles in local government and the private sector, or further research. Others have launched their own businesses.

Fees and funding


Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you're eligible for.

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

Apply for this course

Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:

The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

Our student protection plan

Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

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