Introduction to Survey Design and Management

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
08 February 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MSC L31012 Survey Methods for Social Research,
MSC L310MO Survey Methods for Social Research

Module description

This module introduces students to the principles and practices of modern survey design. The module exposes students to the considerable literature on survey methodology that informs best practices in contemporary survey research.

Survey methodology has, over the past two decades or so, developed into a more or less unified field of research and practice. It brings together insights from, inter alia, cognitive and social psychology and statistics to explain how human behaviour and survey design decisions interact to produce data of varying quality. Key to this perspective is the concept of 'total survey error'. This framework is used throughout the module to discuss the multiple sources of error that modern survey design methods aim to mitigate.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • To provide an introduction to the theory and practice of modern survey design and measurement. The focus will be on practical transferable survey skills required to conduct professional surveys.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Distinguish between different types of survey designs and their uses.

  2. Understand and explain the total survey error framework.

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the key features of effective questionnaire design.

  4. Design a questionnaire using current best practices.

  5. Identify the different modes of survey data collection and the implications for cost and quality.

Module information

The initial focus of this module is on introducing social science graduates to the fundamentals of survey design and to the concept of survey error. A variety of different types of designs are introduced with their relative costs, benefits, and indications for particular types of study purposes. The focus then moves to introducing students to a variety of modes of data collection and the significance of survey mode on data quality. Different sources of measurement error are then identified and explored; respondents, questions, and interviewers. We then look at how to design questions and ways of evaluating questions to avoid eliciting measurement error. Finally, we look at the role of survey management; keeping a balance between survey errors and costs. Throughout the module, concepts and methods will be illustrated with real examples and case studies – many of them drawn from the survey work that takes place at ISER.

Module topic list

Autumn Term

  • Topic 1 - week 2: Survey Quality and Survey Error.

  • Topic 2 - week 3: Data Collection Modes.

  • Topic 3 - week 4: Mixed Mode Surveys.

  • Topic 4 - week 5: New Developments in Survey Methods.

  • Topic 5 - week 6: Sources of Measurement Error – Respondents and Questionnaires.

  • Topic 6 - week 7: Sources of Measurement Error – Interviewers.

  • Topic 7 - week 8: Question wording.

  • Topic 8 - week 9: Question and Questionnaire Evaluation Methods.

  • Topic 9 - week 10: Designing Web Surveys in Qualtrix.

  • Topic 10 - week 11: Survey Management.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar each week.

Attendance in person is expected.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Annette Jackle, email:
Professor Annette Jackle (ISER)



External examiner

Prof Benjamin Bradford
University College London
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 20 (90.9%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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