Module code: SOCM057

Module Overview

Complex structures exist in the social world and can influence the experiences of individuals – for example, the school you attend can have an impact on the grades you achieve and future life chances, and life expectancy varies dramatically across neighbourhoods, even in the same city. This module introduces statistical methods for dealing effectively with these types of data structures, enabling us to make robust inferences about the effects of groups, individuals, and the effects of being in a particular group on different individuals.

We will start by covering some of the basic concepts in multilevel modelling and the fundamentals of random intercept and random coefficient models. We will then move on to consider more advanced topics including: nonlinear models for binary responses, repeated measures, and cross-classified models. Throughout the course, the emphasis will be on the practical issues involved in multilevel modelling and the critical interpretation of results, rather than on the underlying statistical derivations.

Module provider


Module Leader

BRUNTON-SMITH IR Prof (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: G310

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Students must have completed SOCM010 (Social data analytics), or be able to demonstrate that they have received an equivalent level of quantitative methods training

Module content

This module provides a thorough discussion of multilevel models and demonstrates how they can be deployed to answer social science questions. The module content will cover:

Multilevel data structures
Random intercept models
Random coefficient models
Context effects and cross-level interactions
Multilevel models for binary responses
Longitudinal modelling
Cross-classified data structures

Hands on practical workshops will provide students with experience of:

Fitting multilevel models to real world data
Models designed to deal with linear and binary responses
Models for cross-classified data structures
Analysing longitudinal data

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Two-part multilevel modelling exercise (4000 words) 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

A detailed understanding of how to use multilevel models to account for complex data structures. Using real data, students will estimate random intercept and random coefficient models, requiring them to make appropriate modelling decisions and to correctly interpret the model output. They will also demonstrate their ability to judge the fir of their models, and discuss their implications.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

A two part analytic report (4,000 words) where students will conduct multilevel modelling and write up their results.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will be able to complete workshop exercises during days 1-3 of the short-course, giving them the chance to discuss the answers with each other and the lecturer. Day 4 of the course is devoted to independent study, where students will be able to make initial progress on their assignment. All students will be invited back to the classroom on day 5 where there will be additional opportunities to receive formative feedback from the lecturer and other students.

Module aims

  • • Provide a clear description, definition, and discussion of multilevel modelling, including the sorts of data structures it is appropriate for
  • • Give students a thorough understanding of random intercept and random coefficient models, and discuss how results from these models should be interpreted
  • • Enable students to critically evaluate the findings of existing studies using multilevel modelling, recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the approach
  • • Introduce students to a number of advanced multilevel approaches, including models for longitudinal data, variance functions, and cross-classified models
  • • Provide practical experience of estimating multilevel models in R

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Have a critical understanding of the ideas behind multilevel modelling, and to know when their use is appropriate
002 Be able to fit multilevel models to continuous and binary response data
003 Have a comprehensive understanding of more advanced topics including binary response models, cross-classified data structures, and methods for longitudinal data K
004 Be able to engage with existing research studies using multilevel models, highlighting their key strengths and weaknesses
005 Be able to interpret the results from multilevel models critically

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 20

Independent Study Hours: 130

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Provide students with a thorough understanding of when and how to use multilevel modelling to account for clustered data structures. Alongside engagement with the theoretical underpinnings of these methods, the hands on workshops will give students practical experience of using multilevel models, and how they should be applied. Students will also learn to correctly interpret the results from multilevel models and draw inferences about the social world.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Practical workshops
Group discussions

This module is taught intensively during one-week. Days 1-3 will consist of a combination of lectures and hands on practical sessions fitting multilevel models in R ( Day 4 is devoted to independent study, allowing students to undertake preparatory work on their assignment. Finally, on day 5 students will get the opportunity to receive formative feedback on their initial assignment plans and peer feedback during group discussion. Students will then complete their practical assignment.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Other information


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research Methods MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.