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SOCS207 Meaning of Life: Researching Qualitatively or 10 cp from Global Studies List A or B


SOCS237 People Count: Researching Globally with Quantitative Methods

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces students to the richness and impact of quantitative research techniques and data analysis in sociology and social science. These techniques provide sociologists and social scientists with important skills for investigating various patterns in the social world. The course covers the conceptual and applied aspects of the quantitative research process and basic statistical analysis. The unit situates quantitative methods within the global research process inclusive of research questions and hypotheses, theories and conceptual models, operationalising concepts, research design, sampling, data collection and management, ethics, and statistical analysis utilising computer software packages. The emphasis throughout is on the application of quantitative research methods to sociological issues and social problems in the construction of empirically based sociological arguments. The aim do the unit is to introduce students to the impact of quantitative research on designing, evaluating, and administering social policy for the benefit of individuals and social groups and the most effective ways to clearly communicate quantitative research findings and arguments. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate a sociological understanding of the nature of social relationships and institutions; patterns of social diversity and inequality; and processes that underpin social change and stability (GA2, GA5)

LO2 - Communicate clearly to develop arguments by using evidence, evaluating competing explanations, and drawing conclusions (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 Demonstrate an understanding of research processes in Sociology including design, methodology and methods, ethics, analysis, interpretation, and the diversity of approaches to quantitative research (GA3, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO4 - Demonstrate an understanding of research processes in Sociology including design, methodology and methods, ethics, analysis, interpretation, and the diversity of approaches to research (GA3, GA4, GA5)c

LO5 - Critically review, analyse, summarise and synthesise sociological scholarship including research using quantitative data. (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • Global research and international data sets
  • Collection and analysis of quantitative data in the research process
  • Advantages and limitations of quantitative research
  • The notion of measurement and the importance of concepts to measurement 
  • Impact of quantitative research on sociological argument and social policy 
  • Use of software programmes (Excel and SPSS) for data analysis
  • Quantitative data as empirical evidence 
  • Quantitative data collection methods
  • The crucial role of survey research 
  • Quantitative data analysis 
  • Ethics in research when researching people and different groups
  • Cultural competencies required for inter-cultural research
  • Communication, presentation, and visualisation of quantitative data

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit employs two formal ways of learning and teaching. It additionally makes use of online materials and activities to facilitate flexible and accessible supplementary learning. Lectures are structured to provide theoretical knowledge and outline important skills necessary for effective and ethical quantitative research. Tutorials for this unit are always taught in an attendance mode in order to provide students opportunities for active learning in using computer software for quantitative research. Students will engage in activities that enable data collection, analysis and communication of research results. These activities, as well as promoting the acquisition and assimilation of new concepts and information from lecture content, are designed to build skills appropriate to third year study in Sociology.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The unit’s assessment strategy is designed for students to realise the learning outcomes through a graduated progression of knowledge about quantitative data collection and use to answer research questions and solve social problems in Sociology and the Social Sciences. The first assessment task familiarizes students with how Social Scientists collect and use quantitative data to answer specific intellectual and or policy related questions. The second assessment task builds on the skills learned in the first assessment task but requires students to interpret data in a more systematic way. The third form of assessment is designed to assess student’s knowledge and comprehension of the technical and cognitive aspects of quantitative methodologies and methods presented in the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Minor research task

Students are required to undertake a minor research task that covers an aspect of the course or uses available data to answer a sociological and/or social policy question.


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Major research task

Students are required to undertake a major research task either using available quantitative data or design a formal research proposal for the collection of quantitative data towards a sociological and/or social policy question. Students will include aspects of the research process, ethics, and the relationship of theory and data in the major research task. 


LO1, LO2,

LO3, LO4

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

In class test/exam

Students will attempt an exam covering the topics delivered in this unit. 


LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Babbie, E. (2016) The Practice of Social Research, 14th edition, Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Babbie, E., (2017) Adventures in Social Research: Data Analysis Using IBM SPSS Statistics, 10th Edition. Los Angeles: Sage

Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods, 5th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bulmer, M., Sturgis, P. & Alum, N. (Eds) (2009) The Secondary Analysis of Survey Data, London: Sage.

De Vaus. D., (2016) Surveys in Social Research, 6th edition. Sydney: Allen and Unwin 

Frankfort-Nachmia, C. & Leon-Guerrero, A. (2014) Social Statistics for a Diverse Society, 7th edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Fielding, J. & Gilbert, N. (2006) Understanding Social Statistics, second edition, London: Sage.

MacInnes, J. (2017) An Introduction to Secondary Data Analysis with IBM SPSS Statistics, London: Sage

Kultar, S. (2007) Quantitative Social Research Methods, Los Angeles: Sage.

Pallant, J., (2016) SPSS Survival Manual: A Step by Step Guide to Data Analysis Using IBM Spss, 6th edition. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

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