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This module is for curious students asking themselves why do we need a course in statistics? The answer is simple: to make complex information understandable using a common language to systematise and report results! Crime and Inequality Across the Life Course will help resolute minds who want to gain a basic understanding of the statistical methods used in the study of inequality, crime and its associated subjects.
The study of crime and inequalities is broad and occupies a central role in social science research, encompassing studies of crime and income and wealth inequality, occupational and class hierarchies, inequality of educational opportunity, poverty, social mobility between and within generations, gender and race-ethnic inequality, and the consequences of criminal trajectories and medical illnesses.
In this module student will pay particular attention to social stratification and the life course perspective of criminal offenders, victims, and society. Social stratification is the unequal distribution of scarce resources, and of the processes by which these resources are allocated to individuals, groups, and social positions. We will be asking how experiences in early life influence later events and choices for offenders, victims, and other parties, affect their access to education, work opportunities, and long-term health conditions.
Students in this module will be exposed to a selective introduction to the study of statistics in aspects of stratification, crime and victimization, and also on the national institutions that engage in crime and sociodemographic reporting such as police, courts, and prison data collection systems. We will pay particular attention to the problem-solving perspective of dealing with quantitative data; in other words, how researchers approach statistics examining the logics behind it with as little fear as possible.
The course will examine specific examples of quantitative research, covering the concepts, theories, facts, and methods of analysis used by social scientists to understand basic principles across statistical techniques. The examples are not meant to provide a comprehensive overview, but rather to illustrate prominent questions in the field and how researchers go about answering them.
In general, the module relies on a building-block approach, meaning that each teaching week helps to prepare the student for the sessions that follow. It also means that the level of sophistication of the course increases as the year progresses. In the teaching weeks that follow, students will examine three types of statistics used in criminological research: descriptive statistics, inferential or inductive statistics, and multivariate statistics.
The primary goal of the module is to give students a basic understanding of crime and inequalities theories and the statistical concepts and methods behind them that will leave them with the confidence and the tools for tackling more complex research problems on their own.
Throughout the module there is an emphasis on comprehension and interpretation of the statistical methods discussed through the use and integration of social science statistical software.
In the process of taking this module, you will develop skills that are transferable to your undergraduate project, the labour market, or postgraduate work, when you complete your undergraduate studies.
You will also appreciate more how sociologists, criminologists, psychologists and other researchers go about applying their skills and knowledge to the empirical investigation of issues they study.
Chiefly, upon successful completion of the module, you will:
Gain a substantive understanding of key theoretical methodological work in the field of inequalities, crime and quantitative methods for research.
Have an improved ability to critically read scientific journal articles and to interpret quantitative evidence.
Gain the ability to critically examine the link between theoretical framework, research questions, data choice, and modelling strategy.
Be able to formulate research questions and testable hypotheses and applying these to real data.
The aims of the module are to provide:
Substantive understanding of basic principles to apply to different types of statistics in the field of social inequalities and criminological research.
Improved ability to take large bodies of information and summarize them critically and to interpret quantitative evidence.
Experience in formulating research questions and testable hypotheses and applying these to real data.
The teaching on this module will take place through on-line lectures and face-to-face computer lab session. All lecture-type content will be delivered weekly via Zoom. You will be expected to read in advance the required material and engage with any suggested activities each week.
Crime and Inequality Across the Life Course will include a range of activities to help you and your computer lab teachers to check your understanding and progress. These are frequent reports (you have the dates listed on the course outline), and interaction with discussion forums.
In addition, we have our office hours in which students can book a variety of different slots – please, make sure to email us in order for us to assign you a slot.
The lecture-type sessions provide an overview of the substantive methodological debates around the topic of the week, while the lab session will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. Students are strongly encouraged to attend the lectures and computer lab sessions as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students.
The classes will be recorded and available for students to watch or listen again. However, if students want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage.
In addition to the timetabled hours for this module, students should aim to spend up to eight hours per week undertaking their own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.).
This module is taught through a combination of a lecture and a lab session each week.
You are expected to attend each weekly lecture and each weekly lab that you have been assigned to.
Academic Support Hours
The teaching team has weekly academic support hours in which they guarantee to be sitting in their room waiting to deal with any inquiries you may bring. Please use this service, especially if there is anything in the module that you are unclear about.
1. Have gained an understanding of the principles and practice of quantitative analysis in sociology
2. Have gained an understanding of the fundamentals of statistical inference
3. Have basic skills in analysing and presenting quantitative data using computer software IBM SPSS and Excel
4. Gain a substantive understanding of current key debates and recent empirical work in the field of social stratification
5. Have an improved ability to critically read scientific journal articles and to interpret quantitative evidence
6. Gain the ability to critically examine the link between theoretical framework, research questions, data choice, and modelling strategy
7. Be able to formulating research questions and testable hypotheses, and applying these to real data