9am - 5:45pm
Monday 25 February - Wednesday 27 February 2019

Practical survey design and web-based methods

This course introduces participants to the general principles of survey design, before considering some of the central challenges facing survey methodology in the move to online data collection.

from £395.00 to £595.00

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Surveys are a key tool for social research that enables us to quantify the views and opinions of the public in a systematic and generalizable way. And 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 introduces participants 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 course will be underpinned by examples of substantive empirical work from survey practitioners. Participants will also gain first hand experience of online survey design using the Qualtrics software package.

Course overview

This course will provide participants 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
  • Modes of data collection; self-completion; CAPI; CATI; and the Web
  • Quality criteria in survey methods - survey error; threats to validity and the reliability of estimates
  • Ethical considerations in survey research
  • Web based panels and online experiments
  • Falling response rates and survey quality

Practical hands on workshops will provide students with experience of:

  • Online survey design using Qualtrics

Data collection and descriptive analysis of headline results

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of question wording and design issues in survey research (K,C)
  • Gain practical experience of developing an online survey using Qualtrics (P,T)
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the pros and cons of a range of survey designs and the particular challenges of online methods (C,P)
  • Recognise the importance of appropriate sampling methodologies (K,C,P)
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of sources of error in survey measurements and be aware of how they can be measured, prevented and reduced (K,C)

Key: C-Cognitive/Analytical; K-Subject Knowledge; T-Transferable Skills; P- Professional/ Practical skills

Course leader

Dr Robert Meadows is a medical sociologist in the department of sociology. He has taught survey methods courses for a number of years and is an expert in the use of sensors to measure sleep activity. He is currently Deputy Director of Research (Impact) sits on the editorial board of Sociological Research Online, is a member of the UKRI Future Leaders Peer Review College, sits on NIHR panels and is co-recorder of the Sociology and Social Policy Section of the British Science Association.

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

Dr Patten Smith 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 Social Sciences.

Level of study

Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Varies according to status:

  • £595 - Government/commercial sector
  • £495 - Educational/charitable sector 
  • £395 - Students.


Participants on the course will include some students completing the MSc in Social Research Methods

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