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Cardiff University Q-Step Centre holds inaugural conference

3 October 2014

Q-step launch
'Mainstreaming Quantitative Methods – Opportunities and Challenges' was the topic of the inaugural Cardiff University Q-Step Centre conference held on campus recently.

The Centre is dedicated to the development of excellence in the teaching and learning of quantitative methods in the social sciences. It is one of fifteen Q-Step Centres established across the UK as part of a £19.5 million initiative - funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – with the aim of producing new and innovative methods of teaching in this area.

Professor Malcolm Williams, Director of the Cardiff University Q-Step Centre, said: "Cardiff was awarded a Q-Step Centre on the basis of our pioneering work in making quantitative methods and statistics accessible and exciting for students. Social science graduates with quantitative skills are increasingly in demand from public, private and third sector employers, and the shortage of such skills has been a prime motivation for Q-Step.

"In the next few years, the Q-Step Centres and quantitative methods teaching will face many challenges of pedagogy, resources, and long-term commitment, but there will also be opportunities ahead. This is a new and exciting phase for teaching and learning in quantitative methods and our inaugural conference was a chance to examine the 'step change' in attitudes and practices that will be required."

The conference, held in the University's Main Building on 18 September, featured an eminent line-up of speakers, including: 

  • Professor Malcolm Williams, Sharon Witherspoon, Director of Nuffield Foundation
  • Professor Patrick Sturgis, Director of the National Centre for Research Methods
  • Professor Mike Savage, London School of Economics
  • Professor John MacInnes, ESRC Strategic Advisor on Quantitative Methods Training
  • Dr Geoff Payne, Newcastle University

The keynote address was delivered by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal of Aberdeen University and former Chief Executive of the ESRC, who addressed delegates on issues such as sustainability, university commitment, and 'doing science' in the social sciences. The slides from this address are available on Slideshare.

The School of Social Sciences is launching the UK's first degree in Social Analytics (for 2015 entry). A unique programme designed to combine cutting-edge training in quantitative research methods with the established curricula of social sciences disciplines including criminology, education, politics, social policy and sociology. The programme has been developed by and will be delivered by staff from the Cardiff University Q-Step Centre.

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