University of Leeds to host Q-Step Centre as part of £19.5 million funding programme


The University of Leeds is delivering a step-change in its social science teaching as part of an ambitious intervention to address the critical shortage of quantitatively skilled social scientists.

It will join a network of ‘Q-Step Centres’ across the UK, all of which have received funding from Q-Step, a programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training for undergraduates.

Q-Step is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).  The £19.5 million funding partnerships is the largest in recent times – between a research council, a funding council and a private foundation – focussed on undergraduate social science education in the UK.

The University of Leeds will receive £718,980 to deliver a programme of Q-Step activities, including:  

  • New modules in quantitative methods (QM) in its undergraduate social science courses. These will form part of new quantitative methods ‘pathways’ through undergraduate degrees, enabling students to graduate from a ‘with QM’ degree. 
  • Courses will be available across a range of disciplines, including education, human geography, demography, management studies, business studies, political studies, international relations, social policy, socio-legal studies and sociology. 
  • Summer schools for sixth form students (Years 12 and 13) to provide a taster of quantitative social science, and for undergraduates at the end of their first year who would like to transfer to a QM pathway. 
  • Introduction of a new four-year Integrated Masters degrees in Business disciplines Provision of work placements for undergraduates.
  • 2 new teaching posts. 

Although targeted at undergraduates, Q-Step aims to promote quantitative skills training across the course of the education system, from recruitment of school students to specialist training for those going on to postgraduate work. An accompanying support programme shares expertise and resources developed by the Centres across the higher education sector and forges links with schools and employers.

Sharon Witherspoon, Director of the Nuffield Foundation said: “The Nuffield Foundation, ESRC and HEFCE are delighted that the University of Leeds will become one of our Q-Step Centres. Its planned programme of activities will be an important contribution to our goal of promoting a step-change in quantitative skills training in the social sciences.”

Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: "I am delighted that the University is to be part of the Q-Step programme. Working with the Nuffield Foundation, ESRC, HEFCE, and our partner universities we see this as a unique opportunity to achieve a step-change in the teaching of social sciences.

"We look forward to developing a suite of new programmes across the social sciences that will provide graduates with the quantitative skills that are so in demand in today's job market. The new programmes build on a great tradition of education in quantitative methods in Leeds and will draw on the cutting-edge research being undertaken here at Leeds, particularly emerging from the ESRC-funded work on big data analysis."

For further information:

More information about Q-step is available at