FASS508 Quantitative Research Methods Introduction

Module description

  • Uncertainty and probability.
  • Random sampling and random variables. Different approaches to sampling. What is a "random" sample and why is it important for statistical inference?
  • Variable types - discrete vs. continuous.
  • Distributions - what they are and why they are important.
  • Basic descriptive statistics - mean, median, mode, standard deviation, interquartile range.
  • Credible intervals. The difference between probability and effect size. Credible intervals as limits of (un)certainty. Factors affecting the width of credible intervals.
  • Simple hypothesis testing using credible intervals.

Aims and objectives 

To provide a student-friendly face-to-face introduction to fundamental concepts in statistics, focussing more on conceptual understanding than on computation. The course is intended to provide sufficient background for progression onto FASS512 in Term 2.

To provide students with:

  • a fundamental understanding of probability
  • a basic understanding of random sampling and why it is important.
  • an introduction to basic descriptive statistics
  • a simple introduction to inferential statistics for one- and two-sample problems, based around the notion of credible intervals.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Understand what probability is.
  • Distinguish between probability and effect size.
  • Understand how and why researchers take random samples from larger populations.
  • Have a general idea of what a distribution is.
  • Understand what basic descriptive measures (means, medians, modes, standard deviations, and interquartile ranges) can tell us.
  • Understand what a credible interval is and what it can tell us.
  • Know how to use a credible interval to test simple one- and two-sample hypotheses.

Reading list

Franklin, J. (2009), What Science Knows and How It Knows It, New York, Encounter Books.  [Mainly chapters 1 and 10.]

Hand, D. (2008), Statistics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Paulos, J.A. (1995), A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper: Making Sense of The Numbers in the Headlines, London, Penguin.

Savage, S.L. (2009), The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty, Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley.

Timing and Location

Term: Michaelmas

Date(s): 17/10/17 - 24/10/17

Number of sessions: 2 x 3 hour sessions

Timing and Location: Tuesdays, Weeks 2-3, 09.00-12.00, ASH House PC Zone 1

Additional information

Minimum quota: 6

Maximum quota: 25

Apart from delivery mode, the syllabuses for FASS508: Quantitative Research Methods Introduction (face-to-face) and FASS508d: Quantitative Research Methods 1 (online distance learning) are basically identical, so you should only need to take one of these. Either will provide the background necessary to prepare you for FASS512: Quantitative Research Methods 2.