Information for students

Q-Step at the University of Glasgow

Q-Step is a national programme aimed at achieving step-changes in undergraduate quantitative social science training in the UK. Q-step is motivated by the UK’s shortage of social science graduates with quantitative skills. There are fifteen Q-step Centres located in different universities across the UK. The objective of these centres is to support the development and delivery of specialist undergraduate quantitative programmes, through the development of new courses, work experience opportunities and pathways to postgraduate study.After a competitive bidding process, the University of Glasgow succeeded in receiving funding for the establishment of a Q-Step Centre in the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS).

The Q-Step Centre is supported by two lecturers in Quantitative Social Science. Additionally, Q-step has a presence in the School of Education (SoE) through one post (Lecturer in Quantitative Social Sciences (Education)) and in the School of Mathematics and Statistics also through one lecturer post (Lecturer in Statistics). These roles are intended to improve undergraduate students’ quantitative literacy throughout SSPS and SoE. The Q-Step team of lecturers have developed a separate Quantitative Methods programme with new courses for students in SSPS, and have contributed to the enhancement of existing courses, embedding quantitative approaches and tools across the undergraduate courses within SSPS and SoE. The programme for Scotland is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and ESRC.

What is a degree with Q-Step?

These degrees are part of a UK wide initiative. A Q-step degree is typically a degree in a substantive social science topic enhanced by sustained training in Quantitative Methods and Analysis. Q-Step graduates are able to understand numbers, analyse data, evaluate evidence, and design and commission research, skills and knowledge that areincreasingly in demand from employers in various sectors (academia, government, business and charities).

Do I need Maths?

No. These degrees involve courses in research methods that use social science statistics to help us understand and analyse the social world. There is a mathematical basis to this statistical approach and those that enjoyed maths and/or took maths to Higher or A-Level may be particularly drawn to these courses.

Students who had a less positive experience of Maths at school shouldn’t automatically reject these courses. We don't require you to have any maths or statistics qualifications other than those required for normal entry to the University of Glasgow’s undergraduate programme.

We assume therefore that you may have had a significant gap since you last explicitly worked with numbers and our courses are built with this in mind. QM1 starts with an induction session to re-familiarise you with some core concepts and introduce you to the software that we will use. A lot of the skills that you will use are interpretative; they are about making sense of what the numbers mean rather than the mathematical manipulation of these numbers. And because we use contemporary as well as historical data, data relevant to Glasgow as well as global data, and data that speak directly to some of the core problems still facing social scientists, we will be teaching you essential skills for producing credible data for a range of audiences, vital for producing world changing graduates.

UCAS Codes

  • Politics with Quantitative Methods  -  UCAS code LG23
  • Sociology with Quantitative Methods  -  UCAS code LG33
  • Economic & Social History with Quantitative Methods  -  UCAS code VG33
  • Social & Public Policy with Quantitative Methods  -  UCAS code LG43
  • Central & East European Studies with Quantitative Methods  -  UCAS code RG73
  • International Relations with Quantitative Methods - UCAS Code L2G3

Information for students considering studying for a 'with Quantitative Methods' degree in the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS).

Pathway for quantitative-orientated undergraduates

Students come to the social sciences for a variety of reasons and from a wide range of backgrounds. Many social science students have no interest in quantitative methods. Others may have a latent interest that gets piqued during their early course of study.

The Q-Step programme provides a pathway for students interested in receiving additional quantitative methods training and expertise, by offering the opportunity to earn their respective degree with the additional accolade: "with Quantitative Methods". Additionally, Q-Step lecturers will assist in undergraduate dissertations employing quantitative methods across social science subjects.

Figure 1 below demonstrates a rather ideal progression for students choosing the Politics with Quantitative Methods pathway. Students can study single honours also in Central & East European Studies, Economic & Social History, Social & Public Policy, and Sociology.

Figure 1: How 'with Quantitative Methods' fits into your degree curriculum

Year Subject 1 Subject 2 Subject 3
1 Politics 1A Politics 1B Sociology 1A Sociology 1B Economic and Social History 1A Economic and Social History 1B
2 Politics 2A Politics 2B Sociology 2B Sociology 2B Quantitative Methods: Measuring Your Social World Quantitative Methods: Analysing Your Social World
3 Quantitative Methods: Research Design and Method Selection Quantitative Methods: Advanced Regression Honours Politics courses
4 Dissertation in Politics* Advanced Quantitative Methods ** Honours Politics courses

*If the student wishes to use quantitative analysis, the Q-Step team can offer support either as primary supervisor, secondary supervisor or provide a workshop on the data analysis technique used for supervisor and student depending on which option is the most useful.

** Around 5 advanced quantitative courses will be produced which either offer very advanced training or offer a more applied approach linked to a substantive area.

Core skills

Students will graduate with:

  • Proficiency in Quantitative Research and Analysis (Data Analysis)

Quantitative Research is endemic in the social sciences, including politics, sociology, criminology, public policy, urban studies, and other social science disciplines. The use of quantitative methods in social sciences is rapidly increasing every year. It is therefore essential for students to develop basic working knowledge of quantitative research in their field. Further to this, quantitative skills and data analysis are high in demand by employers. Q-Step degrees are designed to develop these skills and create the future data minded social science graduates. 

  • Robust Understanding of Quantitative Evidence

Graduates will be able to understand and assess quantitative evidence as presented in academic literature but also in public media and government reports. Understanding means making sense of numbers presented in figures and tables and, most importantly, being able to critically evaluate the methods applied to collect and analyse the presented data in order to draw conclusions. This presupposes knowledge of study/research design, and an understanding of the limitations of important British and International secondary data sets such as, Scottish Election Study, the British Cohort Studies or PISA .

  • The ability to present and discuss quantitative results

Social science students are increasingly entering a workforce where quantitative literacy and skills provide an employment edge and are often a necessity for some positions. Not only do students need to understand quantitative results, but also how to present data and results, and discuss their substantive implications. A key skill is understanding the best approaches to visualization of data and quantitative results. Specifically, social science students must be able to locate data and results, and then manipulate the information for easy digestion and understanding by others. This ability is applicable to a wide range of professions domestically and internationally.

How to apply

In order not to limit your routes to honours, the quantitative methods courses begin in your second year (see figure 1) as your 'third option'. QM1 measuring your social world is an introductory course which will lay the foundation for all other courses (Course code SPS1001). QM2 is more advanced and opens you up to more complex methods of analysis (Course Code SPS2001). Simply search for these courses on My Campus and enrol.

What if I take QM1 and QM2 and don’t want to continue with the pathway?

That is fine. QM1 and QM2, as with all our courses can be taken for the credits. In junior honours you need to be a bit careful about only doing some of Quantitative Methods: Research Design and Method Selection, Quantitative Methods: Advanced Regression and a fourth year course. Only if you complete all 3 can you graduate 'with Quantitative Methods'. Taking one or two of the honours courses will give you credits towards a single honours degree because under the MA SocSci rules you can take up to 60 credits over the 2 years of a single honours degree outside your subject area, however this may restrict you from taking other courses outside of your subject area in addition. Your advisor of studies, or one of the Q-Step team can offer more detailed advice.