Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module ANTH40515: Computational Methods for Social Sciences

Department: Anthropology

ANTH40515: Computational Methods for Social Sciences

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce and train students on a range of computational tools for producing, analysing and managing social data.


  • Software packages to be reviewed annually, however, the module will concentrate on software packages for dealing with the following types of data: kin terminologies, kin genealogies, fieldnotes, video data, image data, social networks, geospatial data.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate mastery of the appropriate methodological literature on computational methods.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the range of computational tools available.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop competence in the use of at least one software package for managing social data
  • To learn how to integrate computationally based methods with other anthropological data production methods
Key Skills:
  • Communication: students communication skills will be developed more fully, both in writing and verbally
  • Improving own learning: students will learn to use a range of available resources to identify potentially useful computational tools
  • Use of information technologies to aid the production, management and analysis of data

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures, practicals and project work
  • The formative assessments are in class practical exercises where students first get a short presentation of a software tool and they are then given a dummy data set and a set of step by step instructions for doing something with those data. They then have the last 30 minutes to play around with the software and the data while I wander around answering questions.
  • The summarise assessment is based around the use of a software research tool. It can be one of the ones we use in the practical sessions or it can be one of their own choosing. In either case, the practical formative exercises are designed to help them structure a project using software tools to answer research questions.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 First six weeks of term 1 hour 6
Practicals 4 Approximately fortnightly in one term 2 8
Preparation and reading 136
Total Hours 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Project Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project 2,500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Plan for project

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University