Strategic Advisor on the undergraduate teaching of quantitative methods in the social sciences

Between 2009 and 2014, ESRC and HEFCE appointed Professor John MacInnes, University of Edinburgh as Strategic Advisor for Quantitative Methods Training. In 2009 he evaluated the state of undergraduate teaching of quantitative methods (QM) across the social sciences, and set out a number of proposals to improve and support this teaching:

Following the recommendations set out in the report, ESRC and HEFCE funded various activities including 20 awards in Curriculum Innovation to increase curriculum space, innovate QM course content and increase the number and quality of QM teachers. It then led to our collaboration with the Nuffield Foundation on Q-Step.

Along with the British Academy, we developed a mailing list for the QM teaching community (to join the list send a blank email to:, and have set up a dedicated website for quantitative methods teaching, sharing teaching resources and providing details of relevant events, training courses and software.

In 2015, Professor MacInnes provided a refresh of his 2009 report to replicate as far as possible the methodology of the original survey. The results from the survey give an encouraging indication that our activities since 2009 have had a substantial and positive effect on the teaching of quantitative methods.

Based on the report’s recommendations ESRC is not looking to support further programmes or initiatives at this stage, instead we are consolidating what has been achieved so far.