Practical Survey Design and Web-Based Methods

Key information

Start date: 17 February 2020

Attendance dates:

February 2020: 17, 18, 19

Time commitment: 3 days


Stag Hill campus, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH

Contact details:


This module will introduce you to the general principles of survey design, before considering some of the central challenges facing survey methodology in the move to online data collection. The methodological focus of the module will be underpinned by examples of substantive empirical work from survey practitioners. You will gain first-hand experience of online survey design using the Qualtrics software package.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of question wording and design issues in survey (C and K)
  • Gain practical experience of developing an online survey using Qualtrics (P and T)
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the pros and cons of a range of survey designs and the particular challenges of online methods (C and P)
  • Recognise the importance of appropriate sampling methodologies (C, K and P)
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of sources of error in survey measurements and be aware of how they can be measured, prevented and reduced (C and K)
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the principles of 'mobile first ' for survey design (K)


Code Description
C Cognitive/analytical
K Subject knowledge
P Professional/practical skills
T Transferable skills

Course content

  • The art and the science of questionnaire design
  • Sampling theory and non-probabilistic approaches to survey design
  • Modes of data collection, self-completion, computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and the web
  • Quality criteria in survey methods - survey error; threats to validity and the reliability of estimates
  • Survey weighting and representativeness
  • Ethical considerations in survey research
  • Web based panels and online experiments
  • ‘Mobile first’ and lessons for survey design
  • Falling response rates and survey quality
  • Online survey experiments

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Small group work
  • Independent study
  • Group discussion and feedback

Course leader

Robert Meadows

Robert is a medical sociologist with a particular interest in the sociology of sleep. He has conducted numerous research projects using surveys, and has particular expertise in survey design.

Course contributors

Ian Brunton-Smith

Ian is a quantitative social scientist with particular expertise in multilevel modelling, survey methodology and missing data. 

Dr Patten Smith

Patten is Director of Research Methods at Ipsos MORI and a survey methodologist with decades of experience in survey sampling, weighting, and questionnaire design. He is also chair of the Social Research Association and a fellow of the Academy of Soc...

See profile

Reading list

View our recommended reading list.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this module.

Fees and funding

Price per person:


Government and commercial sector applicants


Education and charitable sector applicants



How to apply

You can apply for this module through our online store.

Apply now

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This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.