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Essex short courses in social research

Our high-quality courses are taught by experts in their fields, either from Essex or from our partner organisations, and reflect the teaching and research excellence of the social sciences at our University.

Who are the courses aimed at?

These training events are aimed at PhD students, practitioners and academics wishing to deepen their understanding of social research and upgrade their skills in research methods.

What courses do we offer?

We offer a range of courses from introductory to more advanced methods.

  • The art of qualitative interviewing: Dr Liz Spencer

    7-8 November 2013, 2N2.4.16

    As a qualitative method, interviewing can generate wonderfully rich and nuanced data but it requires considerable social, listening and questioning skills. This two-day highly interactive course is designed to help participants become aware of, and practice, some of the techniques involved. As well as gaining a grounding in the principles of semi-structured and in-depth interviewing, participants will have hands-on experience of conducting interviews, acting as an interviewee, and giving and receiving detailed feedback.

  • Narrative research and documents of life: Professor Ken Plummer

    30-31 January 2014, Seminar room 3, Constable Building

    Story tellings, and the narratives that accompany them, are basic human social processes; we are the narrating animal. Although such story tellings are often neglected in the orthodoxies of social research, they are usually critical to every stage of the human social research process.

    Humanistic research places the human story at the research centre and adopts humanistic values in such research. It is interested in a wide array of tools for telling these stories, including photos, self analysis, artefacts and documentaries.

    This course will look at some key recent trends in qualitative research, but especially the concern with narratives and stories. In the broadest terms we study the stories that people tell of their lives; we connect these stories to the stories of our lives; and we ultimately represent them as our ‘social science stories’ – in essays, theses, books, films, photos, media, conferences, exhibitions.

  • Life history and oral history interviewing: Professor Paul Thompson

    24-25 March 2014, Seminar room 2, Constable Building

    This two-day course is a comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of oral history. It provides both a practical start and also a discussion of the life history and oral history approaches to social research and the problems in the interpretation of such interviews. It addresses theoretical and methodological issues such as subjectivity and the unconscious, ethics, and the narrative construction of oral testimony. For this first time it will review some latest developments around the globe in the field of oral history.

  • Narrative research on sickness and health: Professor Ken Plummer

    13 June 2014, Seminar room 3, Constable Building

    Telling stories about our illnesses has become a widespread and common feature of the modern world. We find these stories on blogs and websites. We tell them in support or therapy groups. They are to be found in best selling books and films. Newspapers and television provide photo-essays, videos and documentaries around the sicknesses of our lives. Every illness from Alzheimer’s and Depression to Cancer and HIV/AIDS has developed its own stories.

    This course will critically examine some of these recent trends and the development of what has been called ‘illness narratives’ or narrative medicine. A one-day course can only be exploratory and maybe set agendas: it will aim to introduce some of the key ideas of such research, create a space for discussion of such experiences including those of the participants, and develop a series of specific critical debates around the content, purpose and analysis of such stories.

  • Multilevel modelling – theory and application: Dr Ian Brunton-Smith

    31 March and 1 April 2014, 4pm, Seminar room 3, PC Lab A

    This two-day course is being provides a detailed introduction to the use of multilevel models for exploring clustered data. This will begin with a discussion of the basic theory of multilevel modelling, and the different types of data structure that it can be used to handle.

    Then we will introduce the linear random intercept and random slope models, demonstrating the types of information that these can offer researchers. Finally, two common extensions to the standard multilevel model will be outlined: models to deal with longitudinal data, and binary response models. The course will include hands-on practice with MLwiN, a powerful multilevel modelling software package.

    At the end of this course, you should be able to understand the ideas behind multilevel modelling and when their use is appropriate; to fit multilevel models to continuous and binary response data using the MLwiN software; and to interpret results critically.

    Dr Ian Brunton-Smith is senior lecturer in quantitative criminology, in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey. His research interests include survey methodology; criminal statistics; multilevel modelling; and missing data problems. He has conducted a range of analyses using multilevel modelling, and regularly teaches short courses that explore the use of multilevel models.

Learn more about these courses and book a place.

How much do they cost?

Fees vary for each course, further details are provided by the Proficio scheme. University of Essex PhD students in their first three years of study receive allocated funds to contribute to the cost of course fees through the Proficio scheme.

Cancellation policy

Attendees who cancel a previously booked place on a Proficio course or event will be liable to cancellation fees:
  • Cancelling between 7 - 0 days before course date: 100% of course fee
  • Cancelling within 12 - 8 days before course date: 50% of course fee
  • Cancelling within 18 - 13 days before course date: 25% of course fee
  • Cancelling 18 days or more before course date: 0% of course fee (full refund)

Attendees cancelling a course or event booking have the right to appeal against any cancellation fee charged to them by following the Proficio Appeals process. Please note that appeals against cancellation fees charged should be on the basis of mitigating circumstances only.

Travel and accommodation

Contact information

For additional information or queries contact proficio@essex.ac.uk.