Q-Step Centre at UCL


What is Social Data Science?

Social Data Science training is the core of the Q-Step programme.

The UCL Q-Step Centre is about training undergraduate students in social data science to give them skills to understand, interpret, evaluate - and importantly - produce research. Our starting point is interesting, socially relevant questions.

  • How can we reduce obesity?
  • Why don't people vote?
  • Do migrants pose a net benefit or cost to the UK? 

A key starting point is understanding quantitative methods (QM). There isn't a single definition of QM, but here are a few examples:

  • Quantitative methods is about collecting and analysing numerical data
  • Statistics is 'the science of organizing and analyzing information to make the information more easily understood' (Salkind 2004)
  • Quantitative methods use real-world data to uncover differences or similarities in attitudes, behaviour or phenomena.

Tools and techniques

QM isn't just maths or statistics, though it does involve some of both-it's about using tools and techniques to answer important social, political and economic policy questions. To answer important questions we have to think about:

  • Asking good research questions
  • How we can design research plans to best answer our questions
  • How we measure important concepts
  • Association and causation: educational attainment and income may be related, but is education the cause of higher incomes?
  • Visualizing relationships: a picture really is worth a 1,000 words
The Q-Step programme has given me invaluable training in data science and research methods to pursue the  political, social and economic curiosities that have shaped my time at UCL.
Modaser Anwary, BSc Social Sciences with Quantitative Methods (2020)

The Demand

Jobs, jobs, jobs! Q-Step was established as a strategic response to the shortage of quantitatively-skilled social science graduates. Employers from public, private and the third-sector desperately need people who can draw out insights from quantitative data to inform policymaking, organizational strategy and resources.

The QM skills you learn are highly transferable across industry or sector-which means many employers are looking for people like you!