Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


We are currently experiencing a new quantitative revolution, with big data and computationally intensive methodologies transforming social science theory and practice. This unit provides students with the reasoning skills and tools with which to engage with, and take advantage of, the potentials of the increased capacity of data to describe and explain the social world. Students will learn introductory skills in turning experiences into data and evidence, fact checking and critiquing claims in the social sciences, framing theories about society in relation to evidence, and sharing their ideas using supporting data.

This unit is suited for social science or humanities students with no experience of studying mathematics, statistics, or data analysis. Fundamental concepts of statistical thinking will be introduced in a non-mathematical and intuitive manner. The unit will focus on embedding students in a problem-solving framework (problem-plan-data-analysis-conclusions (PPDAC)) with which to interrogate real world issues within a social science context. Topics will include organising numbers, understanding numerical summaries, visualising data, transforming data, and using data in critical thinking, as well as hypothesis testing and examining correlation and causality.

Students will practice their data analysis skills, including using data software programs and connecting data to social science theory, in regular workshop exercises.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Social and Environmental Sustainability major sequence

Students are able to (1) demonstrate understanding of introductory statistical & data analysis concepts; (2) explain the role of statistics and data analysis within the social sciences; (3) conduct basic data-based social science research projects; and (4) apply introductory statistical concepts and data analysis skills to the theory and practice of social science.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) workshop exercises; (2) policy briefing; and (3) team research project. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Paul Plummer
Unit rules
Enrolment in
any major
or minor from the School of Social Sciences
or School of Humanities,
or permission from the unit coordinator
Contact hours
2 hours lectures per week and 2 hours workshop per week.
This unit is not suitable for students who have attempted or completed Mathematics Methods ATAR or equivalent or higher, and is not considered equivalent to any mathematics, statistics, or data analysis unit offered by the School of Physics, Mathematics and Computing. It is not considered a mathematics unit for students pursuing a degree in Teaching.

Students interested in further study in mathematics, statistics, or data analysis are encouraged to explore units such as Mathematics Fundamentals (MATH1720), Science, Society and Data Analysis (SCIE1104), or Computational Thinking with Python (CITS1401), or consider enrolling in the Data Science minor.

Background resources:

Spiegelhalter, D (2019) The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data.  Pelican: Australia

Erickson, B., Nosanchuk, T (2002) Understanding Data. Open University Press. England.

Wickham, H., Grolemund, G. (2022) R for Data Science (

Ismay, C., Kim, A.Y (2022) Statistical Inference via Data Science (

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.