Real World Research


In their second year, BSc Social Analytics students will be given the opportunity to work with an employer as part of the Real World Research module. During the first term they will acquire the necessary skills and software knowledge while in the second term they will develop and manage a research project with an organisation of their choice, including: the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Big Issue Cymru,  Central South Consortium Joint Education Service (CSCJES), Colegau Cymru/Colleges Wales, Diverse Cymru, Innovate Trust, Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA),  National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Office for National Statistics (ONS),  Pact Cymru, People 1st, Rathbone Cymru, Remploy, Royal Voluntary service, Shelter Cymru, Voluntary Community Service (VCS) Cardiff, Wales Cooperative Centre and Wales & West (Tai) Housing.



SI0265 Real World Research (Placement)

School Cardiff School of Social Sciences
Department Code SOCSI0
Module Code SI0265
External Subject Code
Number of Credits 20
Level L5
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Rhys Jones
Semester Spring (Single Semester)
Academic Year 2016/7

Outline Description of Module

This module will give students the opportunity to consolidate their research methods training through practical experience in the design, preparation and execution of a research project in collaboration with an external organisation. Students will be matched to an external organisation, leading to the production of a research design schedule which they will then execute in a fieldwork setting or via secondary data analysis.


Students have to take SI0259 (Knowing the Social World) in the Autumn Semester to be eligible for this course. This module is compulsory for students on BSc Social Analytics. Students on other pathways will be required to formally apply and might have to attend a short interview. Students may not take this module alongside SI0240 (Working Knowledge).  The module will be capped at 10 for 2016-17.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  • Apply theoretical knowledge of quantitative social research in a practical context
  • Negotiate viable research strategies with external organisations
  • Design and implement a research project in collaboration with an external organisation
  • Present and communicate a summary of their findings
  • Reflect upon the challenges of doing real world research
  • Reflexively evaluate the implementation of their project

How the module will be delivered

The module will be split into two parts. Students will develop a variety of research skills (via a series of University based workshops), after which they will be assigned to external partners (already identified and vetted by teaching staff). During this period students will be in regular contact with their external partner and will seek advice as and when necessary. During the placement there will be no lectures and students will be expected to spend a minimum of 40 hours working with their external organisation. There will be workshops led by academic in which students can discuss issues they are facing. Students will also have access to optional one-to-one sessions run by academic staff and the SOCSI Placement Officer (Andrew Dodge) will also be available to offer support. Students will also keep a research diary to record their decisions and experiences and to aid them in writing their reflexive account.

How the module will be assessed


Coursework – (reflexive account of placement) 50% 2000 words

Poster Presentation of research findings – (conference or board room style) 50% 20 mins


Workshops will support student ideas for proposals and one to one support with academic supervisor, allowing students to discuss their ideas and get feedback on their progress.




Real World Research will start in the spring of 2017, but some of our Cardiff University students are working with external organisations. Here are some recent examples:

CUROP Placement

The Cardiff Q-Step Centre are looking forward to welcoming an undergraduate researcher to the team in the summer after successfully being awarded funding for a CUROP placement. The student will be working alongside the doctoral researchers in the Centre on their research. Over the course of the placement the student will enhance their social science research skills and practices, specifically, they will be introduced to Qualtrics questionnaire design software and more advanced statistical analysis using SPSS.

Q-Step Summer Placement 2014

Student: Emma Carragher (Sociology 3rd year, First Class 2014)
Date: August-September 2014 (3 weeks full-time with flexible working pattern)


In 2013, in association with British Gas, Shelter Cymru commissioned YouGov research on experiences of Shelter Cymru has limited staff members with advanced quantitative skills so the charity worked with a contact at Cardiff University to recruit a student to assist the analysis. My volunteer placement involves analysing the PRS data in terms of mobility, affordability and suitability. The ultimate aim of the project is to produce three policy documents detailing these results in order to provide the Shelter Cymru campaigns team with research evidence to help them lobby the Welsh Government.the private rented sector (PRS). The resulting dataset includes information on many areas, including housing problems, landlord experiences and priorities when moving. It also includes a wide range of demographic factors.

Currently, I am producing descriptive statistics and creating cross tabs between mobility, affordability and suitability variables (around twenty for each theme) and seven demographic factors. After this is completed, I will begin to collate results and write the first draft of the policy documents.

The initial agreed length of the placement was between 16th June and 31st July; however, as the dataset is richer than Shelter Cymru initially anticipated, it is likely I will continue working on a part time basis after this date. For example, on completion of the policy documents I intend to extend the analysis and perform cluster analysis. The results may be included in a journal article to be written by Peter Mackie (School of Planning and Geography).

Annual placement

Student: Victoria Lee (Criminology and Sociology BscEcon)
Date: July 2013 to August 2014 (Full time)

In July 2013, I started a 14 month paid placement at the Office for National Statistics. My small team and I make up the National Cancer Intelligence Centre which is situated in Life events and Population Sources. We are responsible for the latest cancer Incidence, survival and mortality statistics across England.

A large majority of my role is to be responsible for ad hoc customer requests; these come from leading academics in the field, government departments, hospitals or the general public. This requires the understanding of complex cancers (potential disclosures issues) in order to accurately extract and present a variety of variables, publish and cost individual data requests.

One project I led on was the analysis of the implementation of the new European Standard population. This required study of age-standardised rates and investigation into how increased weighting of upper age bands would impact on official statistics. Findings were collated into a formal document and recommendations were published.

In June, collectively we published the latest Cancer Registration Statistics; I was responsible for the compilation of data and presentation of bespoke tables. This statistical bulletin was covered by all national newspapers and radio and featured as the front page article of the Daily mail. In May I visited the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on behalf of my team. I worked with academics on the latest one and five year age-standardised net survival statistics which was published at different geographical level.

Throughout my placement I have really enjoyed leading on ‘short stories’ which are short analytical pieces about a particular topic. For example, by looking at historical trends data I was able to draw comparison between the introduction of the National Cervical Cancer Screening programme and a notable decrease in cervical cancer incidence.

Throughout my placement I have had some fantastic opportunities; my department funded me for the completion of the Royal Statistical Society Ordinary Certificate and Lean Six Sigma (Yellow belt).  I visited Tichfield where I contributed to the coding of the Crime and Victimisation survey and shadowed Jill Matheson who was the current National Statistician. I have been trained to use SQL, STATA, SAS and have presented a method I created for the redaction of the VOICES survey during conferences. I also enjoyed becoming a Techniquest numeracy champion through partnership with the ONS where I taught Key Stage 3 maths to local schools.