Practical Survey Design and Web-Based Methods

Key information

Start date: To be confirmed

Attendance dates:

To be confirmed

Time commitment: 3 days


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

Contact details:


Surveys are a key tool for social research that enables us to quantify the views and opinions of the public in a systematic and generalisable way. With the growth of online methodologies, researchers are now able to access large numbers of people with comparatively little cost. But the use of online surveys presents a number of new challenges for survey methodology, including questions around appropriate sampling strategies, question wording and layout decisions in the era of mobile first surveys, and the implications of low response rates for survey quality.

This course 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 course, 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)


KSubject knowledge
PProfessional/practical skills
TTransferable skills

Course content

This course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of key issues in survey methodology and the challenges associated with the increasing shift towards internet enabled approaches.

Indicative content includes:

  • 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

Workshops will give you experience of:

  • Online survey design using Qualtrics
  • Data collection and descriptive analysis of headline results.

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Hands-on workshops

Course contributors

Class size

Maximum of 25 people. Please note, 10 participants will be students from our MSc Social Research Methods course.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course.

Fees and funding

Price per person:


Government and commercial sector applicants


Education and charitable sector applicants



How to apply

Applications for this course are currently closed.

Register your interest

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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.